Monday, November 30, 2009
Brady needs to buck second-half trend
By Tim Graham
NEW ORLEANS -- Tom Brady will need to do something Monday night he hasn't been able to manage all season.
The New England Patriots quarterback needs to conjure some second-half magic in hostile territory.
The New Orleans Saints lead the Patriots 24-10 at halftime. The matchup was supposed to be a quarterback duel, with Brady having the edge over Brees because of the Saints' patchwork secondary.
Saints starting cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter are out with injuries. The Patriots secondary, meanwhile, was playing supremely well. So far, Brees has shredded the Patriots deep with touchdown passes of 75 and 38 yards to Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem.
Brady has been off. The Patriots used the run on their opening drive to score a touchdown, converting a pair of fourth downs on the ground along the way. The Patriots seemed to have momentum with a 7-3 lead after forcing a three-and-out and Wes Welker returning a punt 41 yards to the Saints' 46-yard line.
The Patriots appeared to be in command. Then Brady threw an awful pass intercepted by reserve cornerback Mike McKenzie, who didn't play football for 11 months but was signed to help out with all the Saints' injury woes.
That snuffed Patriots momentum and sent the Saints on their way to a 21-point second quarter.
Brady's passes started sailing toward the end of the first half. He connected with Randy Moss once for 9 yards. We'll see if they can make the corrections. Old friend Randall Gay, who replaced Greer at left cornerback, is out for the rest of the game with a leg injury.
And that gets us back to Brady's road problems in the second half. As you may have seen on the AFC East blog this week, Brady has been less than spectacular in true road games.
In the first half of his three true road games (the Patriots crushed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London), Brady completed 61.5 percent of his attempts for 539 yards, four touchdowns and one interception for a 102.0 passer rating.
In the second half of those games he completed 54.3 percent of his passes for 261 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a 65.0 passer rating.
Of course, the Patriots led at halftime in each of those games, too. Maybe Brady will get hot in the second half and disrupt the trend, but with the way Brees is searing New England's defensive backs, it looks like New Orleans is headed to 11-0.