FOXBOROUGH — Sounding quite under the weather, Tom Brady lamented Monday morning that the Patriots picked “a bad night to have a bad night” in the AFC Championship game against Baltimore Sunday.
“We just didn’t make many critical plays, the ones that really could have gotten us over the hump,” the quarterback said. “It was just poor execution on our part. It was a rough night.
“We’re capable of playing so well, but we just weren’t able to do it.”
One of the lingering questions from the night was the clock mismanagement from the Patriots at the end of the first half; inside the 10-yard line after a Brady 3-yard scramble, they let 20 seconds run off the clock before calling their final timeout.
Had they called the timeout earlier, the Patriots could have taken at least one shot at the end zone; instead they settled for a short field goal from Stephen Gostkowski.
“We talk about sometimes saving the last timeout for the field goal,” Brady said, making his comments during his weekly contractually obligated appearance on WEEI. “With one timeout left, I think that was the thought. It’s just sometimes when you’re in the moment you don’t realize how much clock has ticked off as you ran that previous play.
“Looking back on it, I wish as soon as I slid I’d have called a timeout. Then maybe we have another opportunity to get the ball in the end zone.”
Another miscue came in the fourth quarter on the fourth-and-4 play, again inside the red zone, in which it appeared Brady could have run for the first down but he instead threw the ball through the end zone.
Brady said his teammates were well-covered.
“I would have done anything other than what I did, if that would have helped us get the first down,” he said. “I looked to Aaron [Hernandez] and they did a pretty good job defending that. I got flushed to the left and was looking for Wes [Welker] and he was tangled up with a guy.
“I wish I would have tried to run for it, maybe got it that way.”
Brady was asked about the Pro Bowl and whether he’ll travel to Hawaii for the game, but he deferred, saying he would talk with team doctors and get the results of his exit physical before making a determination. NFL.com reported Monday night that Brady pulled out of the exhibition.
Three other Patriots selectees, Welker, Vince Wilfork, and Logan Mankins opted out of the Pro Bowl because of injuries.
In the first half Sunday the Patriots failed to take advantage of good field position, and in the second half the Ravens outscored the hosts, 21-0.
Defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who had two sacks, hinted that the defense struggled to adjust to Baltimore’s changing, up-tempo offensive scheme.
“You’ve got to be able to change throughout the game, and I think you’ve got to give the Ravens credit for being able to kind of change their game plan as the game was moving on,” Ninkovich said.
“They weren’t really getting anything done in the first, second quarter, and they kind of changed it up there, went into their two-minute, no-huddle, 11-personnel look, so I think you’ve got to give them credit for the game plan and how they played us.”
Room to improve
Five of the Patriots’ defensive players on the two-deep depth chart were either rookies or second-year players, giving a young group plenty of room to grow and improve.
Or so coach Bill Belichick hopes.
“I think there’s opportunity for everybody to improve, for all of us to improve,” Belichick said. “I hope that I can do it. I hope that we as a staff can do it. I hope that individually and collectively as players and a team we can do it.”
Jones: Two sprains
Chandler Jones played in just two of 73 defensive snaps Sunday, watching from the sideline for nearly the entire game because of a sprained ankle.
But the ankle that sidelined him wasn’t the one it was presumed to be: Jones sprained his left ankle on a goal-line play against the Texans in the divisional round. A right ankle sprain suffered against the Colts in November kept him out of two games.
Jones practiced all week leading up to the AFC title game and was listed as probable by the Patriots. Despite that designation, it is believed that his participation was a coaching decision. Fellow rookie Justin Francis started at defensive end in Jones’s place.
Jones, a first-round pick, told reporters Monday that he will remain in the Foxborough area to rehab both sprains and will consult with the team on whether he will need surgery on either one.
Signs of the future
According to the NFL transaction wire, the Patriots signed five players to futures contracts, including running back James Develin; wide receivers Jeremy Ebert and Andre Holmes; defensive tackle Tracy Robertson; and linebacker Jeff Tarpinian. All of them spent time on New England’s practice squad this season. Futures contracts allow players to spend the offseason with the team . . . The conference championship games had lower ratings than last season. The Ravens-Patriots joust on CBS had 47.7 million viewers, down from 48.7 when the same teams met last season. On the NFC side, the 49ers-Falcons game on Fox drew 42 million viewers. Last year’s matchup of the Giants-49ers collected 57.6 million viewers.