Tom Brady isn't blaming a new NFL rule for the Patriots 30-27 overtime loss to the Jets on Sunday.
On his weekly radio interview Monday morning with WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan Morning Show,” Brady stressed that he knew the rule that resulted in a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on rookie Chris Jones. The 15-yard penalty allowed the Jets to kick a game-winning field goal in overtime after missing their first attempt, but Brady said the game should not have had to come down to that sequence.
“I did know the rule; I didn't see the play, I still really haven’t seen the replay,” Brady said. “[But] it really shouldn't have come down to that: we had plenty of other opportunities in the game to score points and really widen the gap that we had on them at halftime. [We] fought back in the fourth quarter and had some chances at the end [and] got the ball to start overtime, so there’s nobody to blame but ourselves.”
Brady completed just 22 of his 46 attempted passes in Sunday’s loss, but threw for no touchdowns for the second time in three weeks and the offense combined for just 318 total yards. Brady took the blame for the lack of production from the offense.
“The rest of the offense, those guys played hard and the line blocked hard, we were efficient in the running game for the most part,” he said. “We just didn't really do enough in the pass game to make enough plays where we could score points and it’s all about scoring points; there’s a lot of ways to get it done, there’s a lot of ways to score points, but we’re not overcoming the negative plays that we’re making.”
Another problem for the Patriots was a lack of execution on third down. They converted just one of 12 chances, opportunities that Brady said the team cannot afford to squander.
“[We’re] putting ourselves in too many third and longs, and obviously not doing anything on third down is forcing us to be off the field and not able to establish a balance in the run game and the pass game.” Brady said. “We [have] got to be better on third down, we [have] got to be able to complete passes on third down… that’s the name of the game: it's time of possession. The time of possession was out of control yesterday, I mean [we had just] 23 minutes [compared] to [the Jets’] 46 minutes; you know you’re going to have a hard time winning.”
Leading 21-10 entering the second half, the Patriots received the ball first, but Brady made a game-changing error on his second throw of the first series when he threw a pass intended for Rob Gronkowski that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Jets’ safety Antonio Allen.
“I shouldn't have thrown the ball,” Brady said. “[Gronkowski] was running a crossing route and [Allen] cut in front of the ball and there wasn't much space to throw it, but I threw it anyway, and he made a good play. You know it was one-on-one coverage and I’m giving [Gronkowski] a chance, and I made a bad decision.
“Those plays you just can’t make in an NFL game, those are the plays that get you beat.”
One bright spot was the return of Gronkowski. The Pro Bowl tight end missed the first six games of the season while recovering from surgery on his left forearm and back. Gronkowski caught eight passes for 114 yards on 17 targets, 10 more than the next closest receiver’s number of targets.
“It’s the way the game unfolded,” Brady said when asked if it was his plan to target Gronkowski that many times. “I don’t think you ever go in thinking you’re targeting someone that often; you know [Gronkowski] had a lot of chances; he played his butt off, being that it was his first game back… Good for him to go out there and have the effort that he did, [I give] credit to him and all the work he’s put in over the course of the rehab.”
Brady knows it is important for the Patriots to shore up the mistakes they made on their drives in the third quarter, when their first four drives ended in a pick-six and three straight three-and-outs, opening the door for the Jets to score 17 unanswered points and take the lead.
“There’s not really one thing [to point at], it’s just a lack of overall execution [in] the run game and the pass game,” he said. “If you have quarters where you don’t really produce anything on offense, you really leave the defense out to dry with the three-and-outs we had, certainly [with] the interception return for touchdown, and the three-and-out following that and the three-and-out following that… We just didn't make enough plays to overcome what our difficulties were there in the third quarter.”
The Patriots return home to Foxborough next week for a Week 8 matchup against the 3-3 Miami Dolphins. Brady says he is committed to working harder this week.
“It’s a frustrating day [after] losing but hopefully we can learn from it and be better this week,” he said. “Whatever extra I need to do that’s what I’m prepared to do.
“Nobody feels worse about the loss than me; losing sucks, especially to the Jets, so I’m going to go out there and try to have my best week this week.”