Patriots

Michael Thomas has priceless story about intercepting Tom Brady in NFL debut

Michael Thomas has priceless story about intercepting Tom Brady in NFL debut

Imagine being an undrafted rookie defensive back making your NFL debut just days after signing with a new team.

And then imagine being thrust into a one-possession game, trying to protect a lead with under two minutes to play and seeing Tom Brady staring you down.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

That's exactly the scenario Michael Thomas found himself in back in December 2013 — and not only was the stage not too big for the then-23-year-old, he delivered both a game-saving pass breakup and a game-clinching interception against arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.

Thomas recalled the amazing sequence of events this week when he served as a guest columnist for Peter King's Football Morning in America column

After starting the week on the 49ers practice squad, Thomas was signed by the Dolphins but didn't join his teammates for the first time until Wednesday, four days before Miami faced New England at Sun Life Stadium. Initially happy to just make a special teams tackle — which meant his name would show up on the stat sheet — injuries to the Fins' secondary forced Thomas into action on defense.

"The DB coach comes up to me and says, 'Mike? That’s your name right, Michael Thomas? I see you played slot in college. You’re going to have to play slot again.' Okay. So Tom Brady sees that and literally every play he’s coming to me."

The Dolphins had taken a 24-20 lead with just 1:15 left, but Brady smelled blood in the water, attacking the rookie and the rest of the Miami defense while driving the Patriots downfield and into the red zone.

"They’ve got a first down at the 19-yard line with 27 seconds left and I’m guarding (Danny) Amendola and he’s running a go route to the end zone. I look up and the ball’s coming. Amendola actually gets it in his hands in the end zone but I fight until the end, fight until we get to the ground and the ball pops out. It’s an incomplete, the crowd goes crazy, and now I’m juiced."

Preventing the go-ahead score would have been enough of a memory for a rookie making his NFL debut, but Thomas came up big one more time three plays later. With the Patriots facing a fourth-and-five from the 14-yard line and only seven seconds left on the clock, the spotlight found Thomas once again as Brady targeted Austin Collie.

"It’s like a movie scene. Everything is in slow motion. I leap up in the air and catch it and after I fall down in the end zone it hits me. I just caught the game-winning interception! That’s Tom Brady! I just won the game! All my teammates are jumping up and down, cameras are in my face, the crowd is going crazy, I start crying and yelling for my mama. It was absolutely like a movie."

Game over. Miami wins, 24-20. The loss was a crucial one for the Patriots, who finished the season at 12-4 but ended up as the No. 2 seed in the AFC, one game behind the Broncos.

Thanks to the loss, New England had to go to Denver for the AFC Championship Game, which they lost 26-16. Were it not for Thomas' heroics, the Patriots would have hosted the conference title game, and that could have been enough to tilt the scales in their favor, as they had defeated the Broncos in Foxboro earlier that season. 

Considering the impact of the game and the unbelievable sequence of events, it's no wonder that Thomas recalls his NFL debut in such vivid detail. 

Patriots' Josh McDaniels raises notable strategy concern of games without fans

Patriots' Josh McDaniels raises notable strategy concern of games without fans

Bill Belichick isn't the only New England Patriots coach who leaves no stone unturned.

Among the many adjustments the Patriots will have to make this season, they may have to play games in empty stadiums, as the continued spread of COVID-19 could prevent fans from attending games in 2020.

New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was asked Friday how a fan-less atmosphere may change how he runs the offense, and he gave a pretty revealing answer.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

"If it's quieter, I think there's some things you probably have to protect," McDaniels told reporters in a video conference. "You can't change your language. It's like, if we know English, we can't teach them Spanish before Week 1.

"I think you probably will self-scout yourself a little bit more with the television copy (of the game film), because they have the mics all over the place. So, you have to be careful (about) how much of what you're saying is easily detectable. I think it's more about protecting yourself and not giving everything away week after week."

McDaniels makes a good point: A quiet stadium without fans means teams could eavesdrop on opposing offensive coordinators to listen to their play calls, either during the game or while watching the television replay on film.

Under normal circumstances, offensive coordinators usually cover their mouths with their play sheets to prevent teams from reading their lips, but that precaution might not be enough if an in-stadium microphone picks up what they're saying anyway.

It's unclear how McDaniels and other coordinators will guard themselves against this potential subterfuge, but it's no surprise that Bill Belichick's longtime coordinator is considering all scenarios entering an unprecedented season.

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

The New England Patriots have added another cornerback to their depth chart.

On Sunday, they announced they've acquired Michael Jackson from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed 2022 draft pick.


Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Jackson was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft (158th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys out of Miami (FL). He started his rookie season on Dallas' practice squad before being signed by Detroit.

The 23-year-old played in only one game last season for the Lions.

Jackson joins a Patriots cornerback group that currently consists of Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, D'Angelo Ross, Justin Bethel and Myles Bryant.

UPDATE (6 p.m. ET): The Patriots are sending a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to Detroit in exchange for Jackson, per the NFL's transaction wire.