Patriots

Brady: Offense slowed by negative plays

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Brady: Offense slowed by negative plays

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's first pass Sunday ricocheted off a helmet and was intercepted on a diving one-handed play by Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. It was an inauspicious start to what finished up as a forgettable afternoon for the quarterback.

Sure, it was the 34th consecutive game in which he threw for a score, the fourth-longest streak of all time. And, yeah, he also locked up the fourth spot on the NFL's all-time passing yardage list, surpassing Johnny Unitas.

But after finishing 28-for-46 for 316 yards, a touchdown and an interception, one look at the scoreboard -- a 20-18 win for the Cardinals -- was enough for Brady to know that he left points on the field.

Particularly unnerving for him were the "negative plays" -- penalties, sacks, tackles behind the line of scrimmage -- that stalled New England's offense.

"Offensively, when you dont play well and you dont play consistently, if youre not going to get a big play, then you have to drive the ball," Brady said, "and you cant drive the ball if you're always two steps forward, one step back. Thats the way it felt today. Wed get the drive going and then there would be a negative play and wed be forced to try to make a miraculous play to get back on track. It just wasnt a very good day in that sense."

Through three quarters, Brady was 14-for-25 for 150 yards and a pick. He had also been sacked three times. Without Aaron Hernandez, who left in the first quarter with an ankle injury, the game plan was changing, and Brady looked off.

It wasn't until New England's penultimate drive in the fourth quarter -- its only touchdown drive of the day -- that Brady appeared to be in rhythm. With just over five minutes remaining in the game, he completed five consecutive passes in a no-huddle attack that quickly moved the Patriots from their own 18 yard line all the way to Arizona's 28.

They were fast, they were efficient. And Tom Brady looked like Tom Brady. He was on time with his throws and he fit passes in to tight windows to Rob Gronkowski, who before that drive had just one catch for nine yards.

Brady capped the series with a five-yard touchdown strike to Gronkowski, finishing the drive 8-for-10 for 82 yards.

Wes Welker noticed the offense began to click when it went into hurry-up mode.

"We work on that a lot," Welker said. "We practice it and it was effective for us, especially late in the game. It was crunch time and we were able to make some plays and get down the field and score. We just have to finish a lot of those drives on touchdowns instead of field goals."

Of course, one more field goal would have won the game. But Brady explained that if he and the offense had played more efficiently leading up to Stephen Gostkowski's missed game-winning attempt, a win would have been in hand long before that wayward boot.

"Its a team game and certainly we shouldnt have been leaving it up to that particular situation . . . We just came up short," Brady said. "We have opportunities to make plays and were just not making them. Just too inconsistent throughout the day to really put enough points on the board."

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”

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Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore (concussion/ankle) still out with Falcons, Jones on deck

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Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore (concussion/ankle) still out with Falcons, Jones on deck

FOXBORO -- The Patriots are looking thin in the secondary as they head into their third and final day of practice before Sunday's matchup with the Falcons. 

Both Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle) and Eric Rowe (groin) sat out the session, as did linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle). Undrafted rookie defensive end Harvey Langi was also a non-participant as he recovers from injuries sustained in a car crash last week. 

Asked if Friday's practice was a possibility, Gilmore said, "We'll see." He did not give any indications that his symptoms had improved or that he had been cleared for practice as he works through the league's concussion protocol. 

Rowe was spotted in the locker room on Thursday, but he has not practiced since aggravating his groin injury in Week 4. He was injured initially during a Week 2 win over the Saints. 

Roberts suffered an ankle injury when teammate Alan Branch landed on his lower leg during a loss to the Panthers in Week 4. However, he was healthy enough to play in Weeks 5 and 6. It's unclear as to whether or not his current ailment is related to what knocked him from that Week 4 loss to Carolina. 

Here is Thursday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's game between the Patriots and Falcons:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle)
LB Harvey Langi (back)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
WR Chris Hogan (ribs)
G Shaq Mason (shoulder)

ATLANTA FALCONS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
LB Jordan Tripp

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
OLB Vic Beasley Jr. (hamstring)
K Matt Bryant (back)
LB Jermaine Grace (hamstring)
LB Deion Jones (quadricep)
DE Takk McKinley (shoulder)
LB Duke Riley (knee)
WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring)
DL Courtney Upshaw (ankle/knee)