Tom Brady didn't look like himself at times on Sunday. He was at his best late in the game, driving his team to a go-ahead score in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but he admitted afterwards that there were throws that he'd like to have back.
He was dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of two days of practice leading up to the Jets game, which may have thrown off his mechanics, but he told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan that he felt like he was progressing.
"Better than last Monday," he replied when asked how his leg felt, "so I'm happy about that."
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Though Brady missed practice time, he indicated that he wasn't ever fearful that he wouldn't be able to take the field at MetLife Stadium for his team's first matchup of the season with the Jets.
"I think I'm always pretty optimistic," he said. "Playing as long as I have, I've kind of dealt with a lot of things over the years, and they're all a little different. When you want to go out there, you want to be productive and help the team win. If you don't feel like you can do that, you know, you gotta let your coaches know that. I felt like by the end of the week I could do that so I got out there and practiced Friday and tried to show everybody that I could do it. Hopefully I'll be feeling a lot better than yesterday come next Sunday."
Brady has prided himself on his dependability, and Bill Belichick praised him for that aspect of his game recently, noting that it's been important to have Brady available to the team on a consistent basis in practices as well as games.
That's how quarterbacks can prove to their teammates that they're tough, Brady explained. It's not by throwing lead-blocks -- something he almost did on the Patriots' second offensive drive of the game on Sunday, when LeGarrette Blount reversed course and found himself running behind the 39-year-old for a 10-yard gain.
"You want to be available to your team," Brady said. "For a quarterback, it's hard to really show toughness other than being out there every play. You guys saw what happened when I got out in front of a running back. I can't do [crap]. I don't even know what to do when I'm out there. I'm looking around . . . I'm really a fish out of water when I'm out there . . . Things happen so fast. It's like you're on the highway. I'm never out there. It's a weird thing.
"[But] standing there, and making throws under pressure, and taking hits [shows toughness] . . . I've had leg injuries, I've had rib injuries, fingers, shouders, head. But I feel like I just want to put maximum effort over the course of the week to give myself a chance to play . . . I focus pretty hard on that. I've tried to be out there for my teammates every week. Hopefully they can always count on me to do that."
Brady said that he learned a great deal about playing with toughness while behind center from former Michigan teammate Brian Griese and former Patriots teammate Drew Bledsoe. Those lessons have stuck with him and helped him develop a philosophy by which he still adheres.
"The body can endure a lot if the mind is tough," he said. "If you can convince yourself you can do it, I believe 99 percent of the time you can. I always want to be out there with my teammates."
Moving forward, it sounded as though Brady was not concerned with his knee issue impacting his ability to make accurate throws. His misses on Sunday were a product of his impatience, he insisted, not anything having to do with the health of his lower-body.
"I watched the film last night. I thought I was impatient," Brady said. "That's what I really thought I was early in the game. Just trying to get the ball out of my hand before things developed. Also, missed some balls on some overthrows. We were close on some others.
"We had [Rob Gronkowski] going up the sideline. It looked like he was kind of getting arm-barred. That would've been a touchdown. We overthrow him on a 50-yard bomb by half a yard. That could've been a touchdown.
"We had one that Malcolm had his hands on in the end zone that got broken up. That could've been a touchdown. We had one late in the game: Malcolm up the sideline that was maybe six inches too far. It's real close. We're not missing by four yards. We're just slightly missing a few of those and it could've been a little different the way we felt about the game."