Patriots quarterback Tom Brady became the 27th player in NFL history to reach 200 touchdown passes Sunday. The milestone score was a game clinching 36-yard touchdown bomb to tight end Chris Baker against Atlanta late in the fourth quarter, but it was far from pretty for New England’s signal caller.
Brady continued his trend of missing wide open receivers this season. He had open receivers all game long, but for whatever the reason; he was not sharp and not on target. On the second play of the game, Brady missed a wide open Joey Galloway down the center of the field, simply over throwing the speedy receiver; setting the tone for Brady’s day.
“We’ve still got work to do,” said Brady following the game.
Brady appears to be healthy on the field and so the major factor contributing to Brady’s not-so-Brady-like performances could be rust from missing an entire football season, but a larger reason could be his unfamiliarity with the new receivers. It’s not a surprise that Randy Moss, the only receiver in the game with prior experience playing with Brady, led the team with 10 catches for 116 yards, while receivers Julius Edelman and Galloway continue to drop balls in key moments of drives for New England.
“We’re still developing as a team,” said Patriots tight end Chris Baker. “There are a lot of new faces in the locker room and things like that. So we’re still developing.”
|Brady celebrates a TD (AP)|
“It’s just execution,” said Brady. “It’s everybody being on the same page and making the reads and throws and something we’ll evaluate.”
Whenever there was an open receiver down field, Brady was off target. He missed 13 deep throws to receivers of 20 yards or more in the game, with the majority of the plays wide open.
“We just missed them,” said Brady. “When you throw it 50 yards, you wish you could throw it perfectly every time, but you just try to give those guys a chance, and I missed a couple of them. Hopefully I hit them next week.”
It wasn’t just the deep balls Brady was missing; it was also in the Red Zone. He was three of 10 for ten yards after four chances inside the Falcons’ 20 yard line with no touchdowns. Brady said he knew field goals just are not going to cut it this season.
“We can’t keep kicking field goals, I know that,” said Brady. “We’ve got to be better than that. Just figure out what the problems are and try to figure them out.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said the Red Zone difficulties do not just fall on Brady’s shoulders. “I think we’ve just got to do a better job all the way around… we’ve got to coach it better in the red area. We’ve got to do a better job of executing the plays – throwing them, running the routes, designing them, everything. We just didn’t do a good enough job collectively, and we’ve got to do better, and I know we can do better, and I think we will do better.”
Running back Kevin Faulk said “we still need to get there in the red zone. Even though we won, that’s what we’re focused on. We got the victory and we’ll go from here.”
Brady finished the day with a mediocre 25 completions on 42 attempts for 277 and the touchdown throw to Baker. The Patriots got the win, but his 87.1 quarterback rating has a lot to be desired.
“When you win the game, everyone feels a lot better, although nothing is perfect,” said Brady. “We’re going to go out and see what we can do better and hopefully improve against an excellent team next week.”
Kevin Saleeba is a frequent contributor and columnist to Patriots Insider. A former New England beat writer, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Share your thoughts on this article, or send your questions to Kevin here.
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