By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
FOXBORO -- The Patriots have a short week going into Sunday's game versus San Diego. And they've got to buckle down quickly; Tom Brady believes he and his teammates will be tested.
"Guys in here are kind of walking around a little stiff, a little tight," he said Wednesday. "But we've got to move on from last week's game and really get working hard on these guys."
The Chargers' 2010 record (9-7) almost had another in the 'W' column, as New England just barely escaped a 17-point fourth-quarter San Diego surge last October. The 23-20 Patriots win wasn't pretty. And, if anything, Brady thinks the opponent has improved since then.
"They were pretty good last year," Brady said. "They lead the league in defense. That was our fewest production of the season when we played them. We had, like, 200 yards of offense 128 net passing, 179 total. Didn't really do well in the red area, didn't run it great -- certainly didn't throw it great. Didn't protect as well as we were capable. We were pretty fortunate last year when we played them. Hopefully we can execute better.
"They've got a good team, they've got a good defense," Brady added. "They've got veterans, they're tough, they're aggressive, they can tackle, they're experienced. They've got a very good offense that can put up points and do it quickly. Special teams are much improved from last seasons. It's one of the best teams in the AFC -- always has been. Got a great quarterback. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
The compliments are thrown wide but not contrived. Brady was sacked four times in San Diego last season, twice by linebacker Antwan Barnes, and once each by tackle Antonio Garay and explosive LB Shaun Phillips. That was Week 7, when Chargers were weighed down by five early losses.
This season is starting better for Norv Turner's club. Last week the Chargers overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to beat Minnesota, 24-17. The game became a grab bag of highlights: Shaun Phillips tipping a screen pass to himself for an interception, 243-pound running back Mike Tolbert rushed for three touchdowns, Mike Scifres scored on his first NFL field goal attempt (40-yards).
Brady saw it all on the tape.
"San Diego is one of the most talented teams in the league every year," he said. "I think they've gotten off to some slow starts the last few years, but it doesn't look like they're starting slow this year. I think that's really been a point of emphasis for them. You can really see it on film. It's an attacking defense. They've got great players at every position."
The Patriots don't look so bad themselves. A Week 1 win in Miami is no small prize and Brady was positive in retrospect. The foundation has been laid, he said, and now there's work to be done. It's time to get back to practice, clean things up and build off of it.
"I thought we got off to a decent start," he said. "I think there was a lot of three-and-outs, we had penalties, we had a turnover. It wasn't a perfect performance by any stretch. I think we were fishing, I think we took advantage of the opportunities that we had, but there were certainly more plays out ther for us to be made. There are some games where you can't make any mistakes and I think that's what we've got to strive toward.
"It's been one week. I know there's not much to go on other than one game, but we're trying to string it together for a very, very long season. We got off to a decent start. I wouldn't say it was our best performance I've ever seen around here. It was one game and now we've got to move on to the next one."
The rebound rate will have to be good; it's a hurry-up week.