Smith-Kaepernick situation stirs up Brady-Bledsoe memories


Smith-Kaepernick situation stirs up Brady-Bledsoe memories

FOXBORO -- When San Francisco starting quarterback Alex Smith got injured this year his backup was pressed into service.
But that backup, 25-year old Colin Kaepernick, played well, well enough that the starter's job was no longer guaranteed.
Sound familiar?
Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe might think so.
In March of 2001, Bledsoe signed a 10-year, 103 million dollar contract with New England. He never got to earn that new money with the Patriots, however, as a tackle in the season's second game sheared a blood vessel in his chest. Brady stepped in under center. When Bledsoe recovered, he found the climate in New England quite changed.
You know the story.
In light of the 49ers upcoming visit to Gillette, Brady reflected on his mindset during the experience.
"Individually, as a player, you just focus on what you have to do to help the team win. I mean, that's your role. When you're on a team, you're supposed to support the team in whatever way the coach needs you to support the team. So, when you're not playing you support the guys who are playing -- you help out in practice. When you get your opportunity you try to go in there and support the team by playing.
"Ultimately, it's about winning games, it's not about an individual. It's about doing what's best for the team. When you play, you've got to play well."
San Francisco's Smith, who suffered a concussion November 11, was medically cleared for play 11 days later. But it's Kaepernick who started the next four games. It's Kaepernick who will start against the AFC East champion Patriots this weekend.
Might Smith be angry? Is it at least awkward?
Brady was asked what it was like when the backup starts by choice, not necessity.
"That was a long time ago for me. But there was nothing like that on our team. I had great support from all the quarterbacks, especially Drew, at the time. I don't really know what's going on in San Francisco."
Bledsoe might not have been a monster, but he was no saint.
You may remember No. 11's reaction when, after New England's November 18, 2001 loss to the Rams, head coach Bill Belichick said Brady would get most of the quarterback snaps for the rest of the season.
"I look forward to the chance to compete for my job," Bledsoe had said.
But the job was Brady's.
Looking at it now, his view sounds flatly analytical. Easy to do after a decade, perhaps.
"Like I said, you just try to focus on your job. There's a lot of players that you count on; they depend on you and you depend on them. It's a team game. That's why the best teams win the most important games, because they've got a group of players that are committed to doing their job. Like I said, if your role is to play quarterback, your role is to play quarterback; you've got to do as best you can. If your role is to play scout team quarterback, that's what your role is.
"Until that role changes, you've got to do the best you can do."
It's safe to say Brady has done ok with the opportunity he got.

Game notes: Patriots tie Browns for second-longest streak of .500-or-better seasons


Game notes: Patriots tie Browns for second-longest streak of .500-or-better seasons

Notes from the Patriots' 33-8 victory over the Raiders in Mexico City . . . 

-- New England is now 8-2 and is guaranteed to have a .500 or better record for the 17th consecutive season, tying the 1957-73 Browns for the second-longest streak in NFL history. The record is 21, held by the 1965-85 Cowboys. The Pats last had a losing season in 2000, when they were 5-11 in Bill Belichick's first season in New England.


-- The Patriots have now won 13 straight road games, setting a franchise record. They remain in second place on the NFL all-time list, behind the 18 straight road games won by the 1988-90 49ers.

-- Tom Brady completed 30 of 37 passes (81.1 percent) for 339 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 131.9 passer rating. Brady has 82 career games with at least 300 passing yards and is the only player in NFL history to record a 300-yard passing game in three different countries (United States, United Kingdom and Mexico). Brady is also the first player to have a game with at least three passing touchdowns in three different countries.

-- The Pats are now 3-0 in international games, and have outscored their opponents by a combined 113-22 score in those games. 

-- Stephen Gostkowski scored 15 points on four field goals and three PATs and moved into the top 20 on the all-time NFL scoring list.

-- Gostkowski set a franchise record for longest field goal, 62 yards, in the light air of Mexico City.