The worst fears of the Patriots and their fans were confirmed this afternoon when the team announced that quarterback Tom Brady would miss the rest of the season with an injury to his left knee. He will be placed on injured reserve.
“We feel badly for Tom about the injury,” Belichick said during his opening remarks at a 3 p.m. press conference. “You hate to see anyone go down. Nobody has worked harder and done more for this team than Tom has. So it’s a tough setback for him.”
Belichick did not specify the injury to Brady’s left knee, saying the team has passed along all the information it knows.
Brady was injured at the 7:27 mark of the first quarter Sunday. On the Patriots' 15th offensive play of the game, Brady dropped back from the Kansas City 43. Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard blitzed, but was picked up and put face down by running back Sammy Morris.
As the 2007 NFL Most Valuable Player stepped into a 28-yard completion to Randy Moss, Pollard made a desperation dive at Brady's legs, his shoulder crashing into the quarterback's left knee. Pollard later said he heard Brady screaming as he clutched the knee. He limped to the locker room and was replaced by backup Matt Cassel.
Belichick was asked what type of message he would pass along to the team about Brady’s situation.
“I think we all just have to do our jobs,” he said. “That’s what every player has to do. Each guy has a job to do – a coach, a player, they have a job to do – and they need to do it as well as they can. Really, that doesn’t change. He played one position, he played it very well, and there will be somebody else playing that position now. I have a lot of confidence in Matt and everybody else to do their job, just like they always like, like they always need to.”
The players already seemed to be getting the message.
"We've won a lot of football games around here," said linebacker Mike Vrabel, a captain. "That's not going to change."
Defensive end Ty Warren noted how experts seem to be counting out the Patriots already.
"I'll say this: Any person with their back against the wall, and when there's doubt out there against you, you seem to try to fight your way out of that," Warren said.
Belichick praised Cassell, a fourth-year pro from Southern Cal who threw 18 of his 57 career passes against the Chiefs.
"Matt has grown up through the system," Belichick said. "He's expanded his knowledge of the offense as the offense has expanded through the years. He ran it a lot in preseason this year, and of course, in training camp from the time that Tom missed.
"I think he's capable of handling himself in a lot of different situations because he's been through them. It's not just chalk talk, it's actually going out there and doing it on the field and doing it in practice situations. I think he showed that yesterday, that he can go out there and manage the game and manage the team."
When asked if he thought Pollard's hit on Brady was dirty, Belichick said:
“Well, it doesn’t really matter what I think. The officials officiate the game. I’m sure they’ll handle it. We always taught our players that it’s their responsibility to hit the quarterback above the knees and below the shoulders.
“You look at the Vince Wilfork play last year against Buffalo [in Week 3]. It’s not the same, but there are some similarities.
Wilfork was fined $12,500 for a low hit to the left knee of Buffalo Bills quarterback J.P. Losman Sept. 23 at Gillette Stadium.
Belichick dismissed reports that the Patriots are working out free-agent quarterbacks Chris Simms and Tim Rattay today. He said the team has no plans to do so at this time.
Belichick did not rule out the possibility that the team could add a third quarterback.