Nobody could miss him Monday night.
The unassuming quarterback threw for 315 yards, including a
touchdown pass to Deion Branch, and the Patriots beat the Kansas
City Chiefs 27-19 for their 24th victory in 25 games. New England
won its third straight since its NFL-record 21-game winning streak
was snapped last month in Pittsburgh.
Typically, the Patriots (9-1) didn't seem satisfied as they
pursue their third NFL title in four seasons.
"We're still trying to improve," Brady said. "We left some
points out on the field tonight. I think everyone's just glad we
won this game."
The Chiefs think Brady, as usual, was understating his team's
"He just carries himself so well," linebacker Scott Fujita
said. "He sees defenses real well. I could feel the confidence
coming from their sideline. It was impressive."
The Patriots' defense also contributed by shutting down a Kansas
City running game missing Priest Holmes, out with a knee injury.
The Chiefs gained just 64 yards rushing, exactly 100 yards less
than their average coming into the game.
But Trent Green took advantage of injuries in the New England
secondary, throwing for 381 yards, including TD passes of 65 and 26
yards to Eddie Kennison. The Patriots played without starting
cornerbacks Ty Law and Tyrone Poole.
The second score to Kennison came after Corey Dillon, who had
two short touchdown runs, fumbled at the Kansas City 3 as the
Patriots seemed set to take a 31-13 lead. Instead, Green drove the
Chiefs the length of the field to cut their deficit to 24-19 with
6:13 left -- a 2-point conversion attempt failed.
The Chiefs, however, couldn't stop the Patriots, who used up
nearly 4½ minutes on a drive that ended with Adam Vinatieri's
28-yard field goal. That almost guaranteed that the Chiefs (3-7)
will miss the playoffs after going 13-3 last season.
"They're an excellent team. They showed why they are
champions," Kansas City coach Dick Vermeil said. "All I can tell
our players is shake their hands, say good job and move on."
Dillon, who carried 26 times for 98 yards, had two runs for one
first down to start that last drive. Then Brady, who completed 17
of 26 passes, hit Christian Fauria for 14 yards and Branch for 9
yards more. Branch finished with six catches for 105 yards.
He was one of many Patriots to make big plays.
Rodney Harrison stopped a Kansas City threat with an end zone
interception in the last minute of the first half; Tedy Bruschi
forced a field goal by stuffing Derrick Blaylock on third-and-1
after a long Chiefs drive in the third quarter; tight end Daniel
Graham had two big catches; and David Patten's only reception was a
46-yarder that set up a touchdown.
"We got a lot of contributions from a lot of people," coach
Bill Belichick said. "We don't aim for one particular person. We
just hope that somebody steps up and makes a play."
Harrison was a perfect example. His interception came because he
anticipated a pass to tight end Tony Gonzalez and jumped in front
of the All-Pro.
"Gonzalez is their No. 1 target in the red zone," Harrison
said. "He is 6-foot-5 and athletic. Why wouldn't they throw to
This game was strictly football, unlike last Monday night's game
between Philadelphia and Dallas, which began with an introduction
on ABC featuring actress Nicollette Sheridan and Terrell Owens that
caused a furor. This week, the opening featured Brady and Green
among others saying, in effect, "let's play football."
Dillon's touchdown runs of 5 yards and 1 yard, and Vinatieri's
37-yard field goal gave the Patriots a 17-10 halftime lead. It was
preserved by Harrison's interception in the end zone.
Dillon's 5-yard score came at the end of a 71-yard, 10-play
drive on the opening series of the game. It featured a 27-yard
third-down pass to Daniel Graham on a short flip by Brady over a
Dillon's second score came at the end of a 75-yard drive that
featured passes of 22 yards to Troy Brown and 14 to Branch.
Tynes' 24-yard field goal on the first drive of the third
quarter cut it to 17-13 after Bruschi stopped Blaylock on third
But it took less than two minutes for the Patriots to score on
Brady's 26-yard TD pass, a short dump over the middle that Branch
took to the end zone by weaving through the Chiefs' secondary. It
came a play after Patten's 46-yard catch.
The Chiefs set a team record by gaining more than 400 yards
for the fifth consecutive game. They won just two of those. ...
Brady has thrown a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games, the
longest current streak in the league. ... New England tied an NFL
record by scoring first in 15 straight games.
The NFL says it is close but still has yet to interview the four players named along with Peyton Manning in a report five months ago that linked them to PEDs.
ESPNDallas columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and NFL Nation reporter Todd Archer discuss what Randy Gregory needs to do to have a long future with the Cowboys, plus a Dez Bryant-Russell Westbrook comparison.
ESPN Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson discusses how Kevin White looked in Chicago's OTA on Wednesday.
ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim says Preston Smith and the defense, including safety DeAngelo Hall, had a big day against the offense Wednesday.
ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon explains that perennial Pro Bowl tackle knows the wear and tear on his body; if he needs a day off in OTAs and during the season, Cleveland Browns are wise to give it to him.
DeSean Jackson has missed too many voluntary workouts to collect his $500,000 bonus, but Washington isn't concerned about his absences.