Sunday, December 27, 2009
Dominating Jags just Brady being Brady
By Chris Forsberg ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- If New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was in any sort of slump after being held under 200 yards passing in each of the past two weeks (albeit, both wins), the Jacksonville Jaguars were the perfect remedy for any statistical woes.
Brady picked up right where he left off against Jacksonville in the 2007 playoffs, completing 23 of 26 passes for 267 yards and four touchdowns as New England rolled to a 35-7 triumph Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Brady's career vs. Jaguars
22 of 34
28 of 39
15 of 27
26 of 28
23 of 26
114 of 154
* - playoffs
Dating back to that 2007 playoff matchup, Brady has now completed 49 of his last 54 pass attempts against the Jaguars for 529 yards and seven touchdowns.
What's more, Brady is 5-0 lifetime against the Jaguars, completing 114 of 154 passes for 1,197 yards with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions.
"We played pretty good today," said Brady. "If we played like that today, I'd love to go against anybody, whether it's the Jaguars or any of these other teams. This happened to be the team we played against. We just played good, we executed well. We had a great week of practice and I'm just proud of the way the guys came out and responded.
"You sit there at the beginning of the week knowing that it's really a championship game for you and that they're fighting for their playoff life, and it's going to come down to one team putting it together."
Brady put it together early and often. He completed his first seven passes of the game -- including two for touchdowns -- and finished the first half 14-of-16 for 150 yards and three scores as the Patriots built a four-touchdown advantage at the intermission.
Brady only misfired once in the second half and the Patriots leaned on their ground game to run out the clock. Brady got relieved by rookie Brian Hoyer with about 90 seconds to play and received an ovation as he jogged off the field.
He deserved it. Brady hit eight different receivers, while utilizing four different running backs. Everyone got involved Sunday.
"I think Tom did a great job today of getting the ball to the open receivers and the receivers made a lot of plays," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "I don't know what he was, but there weren't a lot of incompletions out there. It was a nice job of the receivers getting open and a nice job of Tom throwing it and we had good protection. Offensively, it was a solid performance."
Bill Belichick gave Tom Brady some well-deserved kudos as he came out of the game late in the fourth quarter.
Added tight end Chris Baker, who caught two passes, including a 26-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter: "I think Tom spread the ball around to a lot of guys today, including the tight ends. So I was happy about that and it was good to make a big play in the game."
The Patriots converted on four of six trips into the red zone (their two failures were a drive ended by a Laurence Maroney fumble at the goal line and their final possession, a turnover on downs at the Jacksonville 7 while trying to run out the clock).
One key for New England was keeping Brady's jersey clean, something the team has done well recently. Sunday's win was the fourth straight game -- and sixth this season -- in which Brady was not sacked.
"I think, when they keep Tom from being harassed, they are tough to defend," said Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio.
Brady had one near miss, ducking out of the way of would-be tackler Quentin Groves before completing a first-down pass to Wes Welker in the first half.
"I heard him breathing -- a big huff," Brady said of Groves. "It's something we work on ... they're kinda coming from my back and I don't move much. I don't run much, so being able to be a little bit agile in the pocket certainly helps. But I think that's our fourth game in a row of no sacks. That's pretty impressive for our offensive line. Fifteen sacks all season -- that's one a game. That's a remarkable job by those guys up front and [offensive line coach] Dante [Scarnecchia], the way he coaches those guys. And like I said, it's about guys getting open and me just finding ways to hit them. I hope we keep doing that."
Chris Forsberg is a roving reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.