Tom Brady didn’t exactly look his Tom Brady-est at times Sunday night.
Pundits and fans alike wondered whether the New England Patriots quarterback — despite leading the Pats to a 22-17 road victory over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium — was hampered by a knee injury, which cost him two days of practice last week leading up to the game.
Brady told reporters in his postgame news conference that he’d have to review the game film to determine what his issues — which included several under- and overthrown balls — were. He finished 30-of-50 passing for 286 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, good for an 89.2 passer rating — his worst of the season.
Monday morning in an interview with WEEI’s “Kirk and Callahan,” he had an explanation. It included some good news:
“Well it’s better than last Monday, so I’m very happy about that,” Brady said when asked how his injured knee was feeling. He beat around the bush with a non-answer when asked if he thought there was a real chance that he’d miss the game, but added that he’s “always optimistic” before humorously explaining how important it is to show his toughness by playing because he “can’t do sh–“ when it comes to performing other on-field jobs.
Ultimately though, he doesn’t think any discomfort in his knee negatively affected his play. He simply just thought he and his teammates made a few mental errors, and that the results probably looked a little worse than they really were.
“I thought I was impatient, that’s what I really thought I was early in the game,” Brady explained. “I was trying to get the ball out of my hands on some throws to force some things to develop. And then I just missed some balls on some others. We were really close.”
Brady cited a deep ball to tight end Rob Gronkowski and two touchdown passes to Malcolm Mitchell that were broken up as examples of potentially big plays that fell just short of execution that, had they worked out in New England’s favor, probably would have been the difference between the Patriots pulling out a nail-biter and coasting to a blowout win.
“It’s really close,” Brady said. “We’re not missing by 4 yards, we’re missing by inches. And if we hit a few of those, maybe we’re feeling different about the game.”
He added that the team’s multiple slow starts of late have hurt them later in games, especially because allowing opponents to keep the game close has fired them up and given them the confidence to make some plays that they might not have otherwise made.
“We were close and we missed,” he said again. “We’ve got to clean those things up and hope the game doesn’t come down to those close situational plays (when or if they can’t).”
Whether he admits it, a fully healthy Tom Brady should make that execution much better. Which means the Patriots should be “very happy” with Brady’s update as well.
Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images