I'm not going to discuss the 15-yard pushing penalty in this recap. There will be a discussion of that in a separate post. The Patriots did more than enough on their own to lose Sunday's game. And victory shouldn't be dependent on the officials (or anything else you can't control, such as the weather) being perfect or going your way.
The 2013 version of Tom Brady does not look like any previous year's model. People have been blaming his lack of talented receivers for his lack of performance, but we've seen that Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson can play, Julian Edelman is a quality receiver, and now Rob Gronkowski is back. How many more weapons does he need to complete more than half of his passes?
Look at the passes themselves. His accuracy is nowhere near what it once was (or what it once seemed to be). He underthrew Gronk up the seam for what could have been a touchdown, he overthrew Dobson on the sideline for what could have been a touchdown, he throws low to the flat, throws behind receivers running across the middle, and has no touch when he tries to lob it. Did Tim Tebow rub off on him in training camp?
The interception he threw came at a time when the Patriots had all the momentum, had an 11-point lead, the Jets had been struggling to get first downs, and Brady throws a flat ball intended for Gronkowski and Antonio Allen jumped on it. The first step in the Jets' comeback was taken by Tom Brady.
Brady lost this game.
However, I don't think he's on the proverbial Back 9 of his career. We saw against the Saints that he can still make the amazing throws. I don't know why he's been inaccurate at times. I'm sure sports-radio callers will concoct a number of ingenious possibilities. "He spends too much time with his kids," "He wants to screw Belichick for not signing Welker," "He's trying to get traded somewhere else."
By now he should know how fast Dobson and Thompkins run in order to hit them in stride. Maybe Brady is the one who's struggling to adjust, trying to throw to a set of receivers who don't make phenomenal catches on inaccurate balls in their general vicinity. Welker, Hernandez, and Gronkowski could catch anything near them. Now Brady actually has to make accurate throws for his non-Pro-Bowl receivers to catch.
The Pats defense sucked for three Jet possessions, then they suddenly stopped the run and hassled Geno Smith. After those three drives the Patriots held New York to 38 total yards on their next five drives. In the 4th quarter the defense gave the ball back to Brady and the offense multiple times, and in OT they forced the Jets to try a 56-yard field goal.
The defense did their job, without Wilfork, without Mayo, without Kelly, without Talib. The defense only allowed two offensive touchdowns. The offense didn't hold up their part of the bargain.
Here's a frightening stat: the Patriots have only managed to score 9 points in the 3rd quarter this season. That's 9 points in 7 quarters of football.
This game was a great opportunity for the Pats to push themselves higher than the Jets, as well as the Dolphins who lost in Buffalo. And the Pats didn't take advantage.
How good will Brady be going forward? I don't know. It's not to the point where you're worrying about how he'll do. He's still Tom Brady. He's had bad games before. He's capable of doing better and hopefully that's exactly what he does.
AP Photo/Kathy Willens