Tom Brady and the New England Patriots left many people scratching their heads Sunday.
Trailing the Pittsburgh Steelers by seven with under a minute to play, the Patriots drove down the field to the Steelers’ 16-yard line with 44 seconds remaining, but Brady and the Pats were unable to even the score. After hitting James White for a 5-yard completion, the Pats were hit with a holding penalty and then Brady threw three incomplete passes, all into the end zone to seal the 17-10 win for Pittsburgh.
Some wondered why the Patriots elected to take three shots at the end zone instead of trying to pick up a first down and get closer before going for the tie. Brady explained the final sequence during his weekly radio interview on WEEI’s “Mut and Callahan” on Monday.
“You are fighting a couple of things at that point,” Brady said, via WEEI. “You’re fighting the clock, so it is hard to throw the ball in the field of play because you’re not sure if you are going to get another play off, even though maybe we could have gotten a first down. We didn’t have enough time, so they kind of fenced the goal-line and I was telling guys to find a place for me to get the ball and put your body in position in between the defender. It’s just a tough play any way you cut it. They had a lot of guys looking at the ball and your guys are trying to run vertical. They played it well.”
Even though New England scuffled after the 5-yard completion to White, Brady felt good about their chances of tying the game.
“Yeah, absolutely. 100 percent,” Brady said. “It is disappointing when we don’t and I think we are entirely capable. We had a great opportunity yesterday. We got down. We had the pass to Julian [Edelman] and then we had a couple of passes to James (White) and got out of bounds. I think it was second-and-5 on the 11. That was a great opportunity. They got a little pressure, I threw it away, and unfortunately, we got the holding call on that one, which I thought I threw it pretty quick. They got some inside pressure and I was just trying to get rid of it and give ourselves another chance. And then, we got pushed back to the 21.
“Again, at the time we were fighting the clock because any completion in bounds you’re scrambling to run plays. We threw the ball out of the back of the end zone. It was a tough situation and it takes a big-time play to get out of that, and again I think they played it pretty well.”
Brady also cost the Patriots points earlier in the quarter when New England was in the red zone. Pittsburgh got pressure on the 41-year-old quarterback and Brady tried to throw the ball away, but his pass didn’t have enough juice to get out of bounds and it was picked off by Joe Haden.
New England ended up going 0-for-3 in the red zone and was hit with 14 penalties for 106 yards in the loss at Heinz Field. The Patriots now find themselves as the No. 3 seed in the AFC and are in danger of playing on Wild Card Weekend for the first time since 2009.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images