So if beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, we’ll let Tom Brady slide when he begs to differ that Sunday’s grind-it-out 23-16 AFC East-clinching victory over the Dolphins wasn’t the prettiest of wins.
“That wasn’t ugly, that was a great win,” said the quarterback, who completed 24 of 40 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown but was under pressure all afternoon and sacked an uncharacteristic four times. “They made it tough on us, there’s no question about it. We fought hard, we made some terrific plays when we had to. They played really well; every single play was a challenge. We made some plays when we needed to, so it was a great win.”
Leading, 20-13, with 8:50 remaining, the Patriots effectively closed out the game (something they had trouble doing earlier this season) by turning it over to Stevan Ridley, who had 46 of his 71 yards on the final possession to chew up 7:18. Stephen Gostkowski’s 20-yard field goal with 1:15 left made it a two-score game.
“It was good execution, we did a good job of making some critical plays when we needed to,” said Brady. “The running backs were running really hard, protected the ball, got some good blocking up front, it’s what we needed at that time.”
“It was a very good run defense, good group of linebackers, physical, they rush the passer. They made it tough on us today.”
Added coach Bill Belichick, “That was our best drive of the day. We needed it.”
While the offense struggled to find its rhythm, Brady was right in tune with his old standby Wes Welker, whom he targeted 18 times (12 receptions, 103 yards).
“He’s a unbelievable player, a team leader, a friend, and nothing he does ever surprises me,” said Brady of No. 83, who topped the 1,000-yard mark. “He expects the best out of himself every single day, and that’s what he brings to practice, that’s what he brings to the games, and we couldn’t be in this situation without him. I’m glad he’s on our team.”