Chance to win in his hands
With Patriots, Galloway receives legitimate shot
FOXBOROUGH - Joey Galloway says he came to New England for the opportunity. The 15-year wide receiver, who signed a one-year, $1.15 million contract with the Patriots March 19, saw an opportunity to win. He knew the prospect of playing with a Pro Bowl quarterback like Tom Brady and alongside sure-handed receivers such as Randy Moss and Wes Welker doesn’t come along often.
It was too good an opportunity to let slip through his grasp.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to win,’’ said Galloway, an Ohio State product who spent five seasons with the Seahawks (1995-99), four with the Cowboys (2000-03), and five with the Buccaneers (2004-08).
“I’d seen these guys on TV and I know how talented these guys are,’’ Galloway said of the Patriots. “My goal is to win and my decision to come here is to win.’’
That opportunity seemed to present itself last Sunday against the Jets at the Meadowlands. How ever, Galloway was unable to seize upon it.
With cornerback Dwight Lowery in tight man-to-man coverage, Galloway failed to reel in Brady’s fourth-and-10 pass from the Patriots’ 28 with 1:06 remaining. New England turned the ball over on downs and the Jets preserved a 16-9 victory.
Galloway’s frustration was evident in the way he slapped the ball to the ground after it had caromed off the turf in front of him.
“I felt like we didn’t play as well as we needed to play to win a game on the road,’’ said Galloway, who was targeted 12 times by Brady, making five catches for 53 yards.
Although his first catch as a Patriot went for a 19-yard gain, it was the catch he didn’t make at the end of the game that seemed to raise questions about whether Brady had ample time during the preseason to build chemistry with the 37-year-old Galloway.
“Some of those balls against the Jets, Tom had to throw way too soon, like the comeback [route] that bounced a few yards short, that was the pass rush,’’ said Trent Dilfer, a former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst. “The stop route early in the game, where it’s one-on-one and it looks like there was some frustration, that was Galloway. He took forever to get off the ball. He did all this dancing at the line and disrupted the timing on the play. You can’t waste time on a stop route. I think that was part of it.
“It’s both their jobs to get the timing right, but it’s probably more on the receiver to do it the way the quarterback wants. If you want to catch the ball, you better do it the way the quarterback wants.’’
Galloway is no stranger to working with different quarterbacks. During his five seasons in Seattle, Galloway was teamed with Rick Mirer, John Friesz, Gino Torretta, and Stan Gelbaugh. When he was traded to the Cowboys in 2000, Galloway caught on with Troy Aikman, Quincy Carter, and Chad Hutchinson. In Tampa, Galloway had to acclimate himself with a new starter in each of his first four seasons: Brian Griese (2004), Chris Simms (2005), Bruce Gradkowski (2006), and Jeff Garcia (2007).
“I’ve been with a lot of quarterbacks,’’ Galloway said. “It’s been fun. It’s been interesting.’’
But Galloway said of Brady, “He is a great coach. He’s very decisive in what he wants. And he’ll explain that to you and you’ve just got to try and get on the same page with him.’’
Now that Galloway is working hard to catch on with the Patriots, he’s been working even harder to establish a rapport with Brady. It’s a work in progress.
“Well, it’s our second game playing together,’’ Brady said. “It depends on what the expectations are. If the expectations are that it would be like we’ve been playing together for 10 years, that’s not the reality. You have to go out and go through the process, and make the reads, and make the throws, and you’ve got to understand what I’m thinking.
“We’ve made a lot of improvements over the course of training camp and we’re still making improvements.’’
If there are improvements to be made - and the evidence points to the fact that there are - Galloway is prepared to do his part.
“It’s been a learning curve,’’ Galloway said. “It’s taken time. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve worked extremely hard. We do every single day. And we communicate a lot. So, as time goes on, we’ll get better.’’
Asked if it made his job any easier to work with a quarterback who is able to communicate clearly, Galloway replied, “It does. You know that you can always ask him what he’s thinking, what he sees. And he’ll be able to explain it to you and tell you exactly what he wants.’’
Galloway said he was “pleasantly surprised’’ as he became acquainted with the key members of the Patriots’ offense.
“Tom is a great guy. Randy is a great guy,’’ he said. “All the guys in here have been just great the whole time.’’
Was it necessary for them to pick him up after the loss to the Jets? “I think any close-knit team, you have guys who will pick you up when you need it,’’ Galloway said. “It’s been fun to be here with these guys.’’
Now, with the Patriots looking to rebound Sunday at Gillette Stadium against the Falcons, Galloway will see how this team responds to adversity.
“We lost a game that we felt like we needed to win,’’ he said. “Any time you lose a football game it hurts, it stings. And you go back to work. Win or lose, you go back to work.’’
Christopher L. Gasper and Julian Benbow of the Globe staff contributed to this report; Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.