Lately, though, the fourth quarter has been a bit of a sore spot for Brady and the Patriots, with the team falling short several times in late situations last season (most notably on the road against the Dolphins, Broncos, Jets and Colts). The loss to the Jets this year brought similar results, with Brady unable to drive the offense with the Patriots trailing by a touchdown.
On Sunday, it would be hard to say there wasn't at least a little doubt in the minds of the 68,000 fans at Gillette Stadium as to whether Brady could recapture some of that fourth-quarter magic.
It turns out he could.
The Patriots took over at their own 16-yard line with 6:50 left on the clock and the Ravens ahead by three points. Brady's numbers to that point were nothing spectacular (21-for-37, 217 yards), but what followed was.
Brady completed six straight passes to four different receivers, overcoming 15 yards of penalties to drive the Patriots to the Ravens' 6-yard line. That included a 24-yard connection with Rob Gronkowski on first-and-25. Though a third-down pass from the 6-yard line to Deion Branch in the end zone sailed incomplete (Branch later took the blame, saying he "messed up" on the play), it set up Stephen Gostkowski for a chip shot to knot the score at 20.
Brady's comeback was a bit of a throwback, thanks in part to the presence of Branch. In overtime, the game-winning drive was something out of the dynasty-era DVDs.
The sequence was all too simple: A completion to Branch for 23 yards, consecutive receptions to Wes Welker and Alge Crumpler for four yards each followed by another 10-yard completion to Branch. A couple of quick runs later, and Gostkowski stepped in to hit the 35-yard game-winner.
The fourth-quarter comeback was the 30th of Brady's career and his first since Week 1 against Buffalo last year. It was the seventh comeback of his career in which the Patriots trailed by 10 points or more in the fourth quarter, and it was his 23rd consecutive regular-season win at home. The latter accomplishment puts Brady just two wins behind Brett Favre for most consecutive home victories.
"I'll tell you, it feels good to win [when you're] down 10 in the fourth quarter," Brady said. "There's a lot to correct, there's a lot to build on, but it's a good win."
Branch, playing his first game as a Patriot since 2005, wasn't overly surprised by the play of his quarterback.
"Tom did his thing," Branch said.
Despite the dramtic comeback, Brady wasn't focused all that much on any of that after the game. He talked about a few reads he missed, about some missed opportunities and about the Patriots' ineffectiveness in the first half. It was the type of mentality that almost assured comeback No. 31 isn't too far away.
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