In fact, it was a Brady interception returned for a touchdown early in the third quarter that changed the complexion of the game. The Patriots led 21-10 at the time, and in Brady’s words “had a great opportunity to take control of the game” when his pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski was intercepted by safety Antonio Allen and returned 23 yards for a score.
“That’s a ball I shouldn’t throw,” Brady admitted after the team’s 30-27 overtime loss to the New York Jets. “You can’t do that, throw interceptions for touchdowns. That’s one way to get you beat.”
Brady finished 22-of-46 for 228 yards with one interception, and was sacked four times. The Patriots converted just one of 12 on third downs.
“We just haven’t been good on third down all year. Obviously, that’s a big problem,” Brady said. “We certainly need to be better on third downs and in the red area. ... You’re not going to win many football games going 1 of 12. ... No excuses. We just didn’t play well. I [have] to do a better job out there. That’s what I need to do.”
Still, the Patriots had a chance late in the fourth quarter for a potential game-winning touchdown. Trailing 27-24, they took over at their own 8-yard line with 2:10 remaining and advanced deep into Jets territory.
With 36 seconds left, Brady lofted a pass over the middle to Gronkowski, who nearly came down with a one-handed grab and possibly could have raced in for a touchdown.
“He ran a great route and we gave him an opportunity. He makes that 99 out of 100 [times], but it was just one of those days where it doesn’t happen for us,” Brady said. “We still had plenty of other opportunities after that. It really shouldn’t have come down to that play if we had been executing better over the course of the day.
“They put pressure on you. Coverage is going to be tight. There are going to be tight throws and we have to [make them]. We have to make the plays when they are there.”
A few other soundbites from Brady:
On Gronkowski: “He played hit butt off. ... He’s one of the best players in the NFL. You saw what he does and it was his first game back.”
On the Jets: “This defense is a good defense. They’re well-coached. There are no easy plays out there. You have to earn them. We just didn’t do enough to earn them today.”
On the Patriots' offense: “We need to do a better job helping the defense out. We’re plenty capable. It’s not that we don’t do it, we just don’t do it on a consistent basis. It’s a team sport and as a team, we’re just not there yet. There’s still a lot of football to play. Hopefully we can correct it.”