CINCINNATI -- It was the week in which Tom Brady's body language became the official dialect of Patriot Nation.
National television commentators talked about it. Scribes wrote about it. Fans looked at the game films after the Denver debacle and dissected Brady's every gesture. Nonstop nuance. Forget about body surfing, body painting, body politic, body by BALCO, and Jesse ``The Body" Ventura -- we were immersed in Brady's body language.
And it wasn't just in New England. The
And that is why on an afternoon/evening when New England's defense stuffed the undefeated Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium . . . on a day when New England ran for more yards (236) than any time since 1993 . . . on a day when the Patriots enjoyed their best win (38-13) in more than a year . . . we still were talking about Brady even though he was not even a bronze medalist on this day (15 for 26, 188 yards, two touchdowns).
``How's your body language now?" we asked him.
``The word of the week, right there," he said with a grin. ``Even my dad was like, `Tell me about your body language', and I'm like, `Are you kidding me? Dad, not you, too!' I think instead of talking about concentrating on how you're walking or all that, I think worrying about how I'm passing the ball and how we're executing and converting on third down and converting in the red zone -- I think that's the reason why we won the game."
Brady and the offense took a beating for seven days after the Denver loss. The problems were obvious: no deep threats, no ability to spread the field, and no running game against the Broncos. Popular wisdom held that opposing defenses would collapse on the limited Patriots and take away the short game.
At the same time there were multiple theories on Brady's sub-par performance: He wasn't getting the help he needed. He was frustrated because the Patriots let his top two receivers go. He was upset because he took less dough to stay in New England and management wasn't holding up its end. He was injured. His receivers were running the wrong routes. He couldn't remember what he was doing after popping an Ambien. On and on it went.
At his weekly Wednesday media session, Brady took on all the questions about body language, even invoking the name of Sigmund Freud. He continued to spout the company line, Ray Bourque-like. He said it was just a matter of time. He said it was his competitive juices coming out. He said it was only a matter of time before the offense clicked into gear.
Turns out he was right. The Patriots yesterday were firing on all cylinders.
``I think we were confident," said the QB. ``We just played better overall. Our defense played great. We played well in the red zone, we converted on third down. It was kind of like the Patriots you guys are used to seeing."
Just like the old days.
``This is a big win for us, confidence-wise," said veteran Rodney Harrison. ``We had to come out and prove to ourselves that we can play with the upper-echelon teams."
``This says that this team doesn't worry about what anybody says," added all-purpose running back Kevin Faulk. ``We played our offensive schemes and we just worked the schemes."
Indeed, Patriots fans have come to expect to see Bill Belichick outsmart the other team, and that's what we saw yesterday. New England's gameplan maximized Patriots strengths, disguised their weaknesses, and made the Bengals look bad. It's not often you hear Cincinnati fans booing the hometown team.
As for Brady, he was efficient and seemed to have found his old rhythm. It helps when you've got a pair of running backs who combine to rush for 192 yards. It helps when your defense gives you great field position. It helps when you have a gameplan that embarrasses your opponent. Brady's second touchdown pass was a 3-yard connection to Daniel Graham. It could have been thrown by a seventh-grader. Most of the Bengals defenders were standing in Kentucky.
Brady also had a blocking assignment (he gets a B-minus) on a reverse and ran for a career-long 22 yards on a third-and-13 early in the second half.
``I was tired after that," he said. ``I was hoping we'd call a running play on the next play."
His only interception came on a ball tipped by Doug Gabriel, who looked remarkably like Wily Mo Peña running back on a long fly ball in Fenway's right field.
``It's only the fourth game of the season, so there is still a long way to go," Brady said. ``I think that we're still a long ways from the team we need to be. It was great to come on the road and play against a very good team that was 3-0 and won the division last year, and get a win. I think every bit of news that I saw had everyone picking the Bengals."
Do the math: Brady threw the ball 55 times in the loss to Denver, but only 26 times yesterday. Kind of like the Patriots you guys are used to seeing.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.