The Patriots looked like night and day between their performances in the first and second half in Houston on Sunday, and that made Texans defensive end Antonio Smith a bit skeptical.
Smith insinuated that the Patriots might be spying on the Texans, saying that it was “very suspicious” that Brady and his offense were able to adjust so well to the Texans’ defensive calls in the second half. Brady wasn’t taking the bait on Monday, though, dismissing the inflammatory comments during his weekly interview on Dennis and Callahan and instead crediting his team with another resilient victory.
“Truthfully, we just played a little bit better in the second half,” Brady said. “We’ve kind of been through a lot of this before, so I don’t really think much of it, truthfully. I just kind of have moved on. I’ve already started work on the Browns and trying to figure out a way to play those guys better and get off to a better start.”
The Patriots managed just seven points in the first half, with Brady and the offense looking stagnant to start a game for the third consecutive week. After falling into a 17-7 hole at the half, though, the Patriots came out firing on all cylinders out of the locker room, scoring a pair of quick touchdowns to kick off the second half and reclaim the momentum. The offense ended up scoring on every drive in the second half and totaling 27 points in the final 30 minutes to eke out a 34-31 win.
“If you have a bad first drive, you don’t really come over to the sideline and go, ‘All right, guys, we’ve got to change everything. Let’s scrap all the crap we’ve been practicing all week and just start making stuff up on the fly,’” Brady said. “But I think by halftime you have really a good enough sample size to figure out how the game’s being played, the matchups that go in our favor and the matchups that don’t go in our favor, maybe there’s some new things that they’ve done that we’ve got to adjust to.
“But ultimately, after halftime when you get a chance to kind of evaluate and say, ‘OK, well, how did that half play out?,’ you’ve got to be able to say, ‘Well, let’s stick with it and stick with what we’re doing,’ kind of what we did against Denver, or last week we said, ‘OK, these are some of the things that we’re going to get to and these are some of the matchups that we like, and we’ve got to start making the plays that we’re capable of making.’ You can call the perfect play against the perfect defense, but if I make a crappy throw, it doesn’t matter. It’s a nonproductive play. I know it’s boring, but execution is the name of the game.”
The Patriots haven’t executed well in the first half recently, scoring a combined 10 first-half points in the past three games. The adjustments have apparently been key for them, though, as they’ve ramped up their game in the second half of each game, scoring an average of 27 points during the second half in those games.
Whatever the Patriots have been doing at halftime — cheating, as Smith suggested, or otherwise — the adjustments have certainly been working.