Brady not concerned with style points


Brady not concerned with style points

By Mary Paoletti

FOXBORO -- It wasn't pretty. But Tom Brady wasn't concerned with style points.

"A win's a win. It doesn't really matter if you win by 50 or by one,'' New England's quarterback said Sunday. "Because the following week, it really makes no difference how you did the previous week. It's like a chapter. Once this chapter's over, you move on.''

And so the Patriots will move, right on down the coast to meet another AFC East foe, Miami, in a Monday night matchup. Thing is, Brady knows it can't be a clean break from Week 3 to 4. He stood at the podium after New England's 38-30 win over Buffalo and he smiled and nodded; he even laughed when asked about visibility issues with the undersized Danny Woodhead. ("It's hard. He crouches down. He's tucked in there behind the center.'')

But Brady also fidgeted a bit. When asked if he feels more pressure to perform opposite such a young defense, the NFL veteran crossed his left leg over his right, needling one foot with the other.

"As a quarterback, that's a big responsibility that you have. You've got to be consistent. You've got to always be prepared and always into the game,'' he said. "There's no practices off. You can't not bring the enthusiasm or the energy. I wouldn't say it's different having younger guys. I've got to do it regardless, along with the other veteran players, too. I think that's the responsibility.''

So there among the usual praise of Randy Moss, the more recent nods to strong tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, talk of overcoming adversity and looking ahead to the next week, was something different: Brady feels pressure. It was a nakedly honest response. When considering the mantle Tom Brady has assumed for the New England Patriots, it's not surprising that he gets tired under its weight. It's just that he didn't want to shrug it off this time.

"It's a daily basis; it's practice, it's meetings, it's walkthroughs, it's games, it's Mondays, it's Tuesdays. It's not like, 'Hey guys, everything's great.' And the next day, 'Everything sucks.' And then, 'Everything's great.' And then you ride that roller coaster. You can't do that.''

He has to hold them up.

And the gravity of Sunday's game was further weighted with the loss to the Jets in Week 2. Brady had to steer the Patriots toward a bounceback. He did.

He went 21-27 for 452 yards, 3 TDs, and a 142.6 QB. He took his time, he used the clock. Instead of forcing plays through the air and leaning on Moss as he did in New York, he established a methodical ground game.

Brady even ran nine yards out of a scramble for a first down. After he slid under Buffalo's tackle, he jumped up and roared as he pumped his fists. The crowd roared back at its toiling Tom Terrific.

"I was just excited. I always say I'm the slowest guy on the field, so it was probably the last thing the Bills worked on. They were in man coverage, and I got flushed a little. It turned out to be a good play for us,'' he said.

It's silly phrasing when you think about it: "turned out to be." When you're an NFL quarterback you don't leave things to chance. You don't throw the ball in the air and hope it lands near a receiver. You don't take just risks and keep your fingers crossed. Every decision has to be walled with confidence, every play carried out has to be the best play for the team. If Brady runs the ball nine yards it's because there is no option that's better. Period.

Imagine the exhaustion of always claiming certainty. Especially when the plan fails.

The plan executed against the Jets did fail; the Patriots lost. This Sunday it was the Bills who went home unhappy and that meant success for Tom Brady. So that's why those style points don't mean a damn thing to him. The amount of time and energy he spends on leading his team to a win is more than enough. You can't blame him for fidgeting a little. And you can't blame him for circling back to the expected answers in the end.

"It was a good win,'' he smiled. "This week will be a great week.''

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Raiders score on final play for 31-30 win over Chiefs


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Raiders score on final play for 31-30 win over Chiefs

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Wins have been so hard to come by for the Oakland Raiders that it took three tries at the final play for them finally to pull this one out and possibly save their season.

Derek Carr threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on the final play after the game was extended by two straight defensive holding calls and the Raiders snapped a four-game losing streak with a 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

"We didn't give up," Crabtree said. "We got a team full of fighters. We believe. ... No matter how hard the game was, we believed. We came out with the W and I'm excited. It's a good way to win, a great way to win."

With their season on the line following the recent slump, Carr led an 85-yard touchdown drive in the final 2:25 to give the Raiders (3-4) the thrilling comeback in a game they trailed by nine points heading into the fourth quarter.

Carr finished 29 for 52 for 417 yards and three touchdowns, with Amari Cooper catching 11 passes for 210 yards and two of the scores. The Raiders had struggled to get the ball downfield while being held to 17 or fewer points in four straight games but Carr repeatedly beat the Chiefs with deep passes.

"No. 4 kept making plays," coach Jack Del Rio said. "This is a special, special win."

Alex Smith threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns but it wasn't enough for the Chiefs (5-2). They lost consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 11-18, 2015, and had their 12-game winning streak in the AFC West snapped in a thrilling finish.

"I've never been part of a game that came down so dramatic," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "But, still had a chance to win. Period. Just have to make a play. One play. One play."

The Raiders had an apparent go-ahead touchdown pass to Jared Cook with 18 seconds left overturned when replay ruled he was down at the 1. An offensive pass interference on Crabtree wiped out another touchdown on the next play.

But holding calls on Ron Parker and Eric Murray set the stage for the final play. Carr hit Crabtree in the front corner of the end zone to tie it at 30. Giorgio Tavecchio won it with the extra point , setting off a celebration on a wild night that included Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch getting ejected in the second quarter for shoving an official.

HOT TEMPERS: The game took an odd turn midway through the second quarter after Kansas City's Marcus Peters hit Carr late, angering the Raiders. Offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn confronted Peters and Lynch sprinted off the Oakland sideline to join the fray. Lynch, a close friend of Peters, ended up shoving line judge Julian Mapp and getting ejected . Peters also was called for a personal foul on the play. Lynch congratulated his teammates in the locker room after the game but didn't speak to reporters.

"I was disappointed he ran out because I knew we had a 15-yard penalty and we'd be in good shape," Del Rio said.

LONG DRIVE: After Marquette King pinned the Chiefs at their own 1 with a perfect punt early in the second quarter, Kansas City needed little time to turn the momentum. Smith hit Demarcus Robinson on a 33-yard pass on the first play of the drive. After a short run, Tyreek Hill beat David Amerson for a 64-yard touchdown pass that gave the Chiefs their first 99-yard drive since doing it Dec. 3, 2006, against Cleveland.

DEEP CONNECTION: Carr had not connected on a single deep ball to Amari Cooper all season before the two teamed twice for long TDs in the opening quarter. On the first, Cooper appeared to push Terrance Mitchell but the officials picked up the flag and gave Cooper the 38-yard TD . Later in the quarter Carr and Cooper connected on a 45-yard score, making Cooper the first Raiders receiver with two TD catches in the first quarter since Mervyn Fernandez in 1989.

KICKING WOES: The Raiders were hurt last week when a bad snap by Jon Condo led to a missed extra point by Giorgio Tavecchio in a 17-16 loss to the Chargers. That was Tavecchio's first missed kick of any kind this season but he then had a 53-yarder blocked and missed a 45-yarder wide left in the second quarter. Tavecchio also had a false start on an extra point in the third quarter.


Chiefs: Host Denver on Oct. 30.

Raiders: Visit Buffalo on Oct. 29.