Brady makes up for last week

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts after the Patriots scored a touchdown against the...

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts after the Patriots scored a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers during their game on September 18, 2011. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Mike Ganter, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:55 PM ET

TORONTO - Did anyone believe Tom Brady wouldn’t respond?

Humbled in Buffalo a week ago with an unheard of four interceptions, Brady took the sting of that failure into Oakland and took out his frustrations on the Oakland Raiders.

Granted it wasn’t the 500-plus yards Brady and the Patriots offence put up in the season opener against the hapless Miami Dolphins, but the uncharacteristic mistakes by Brady a week ago in Buffalo were all cleaned up by the time he hit Oakland and headed back to Boston with a 31-19 win.

In fact, this was actually the worst statistical passing game of Brady’s season, save for that little column headed by INTs.

As Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo knows only too well, and said so in his apologetic news conference following Sunday’s loss to Detroit, turnovers are the biggest and most important stat on the game sheet and more often than not the winner of the turnover battle wins the game.

Brady spent the week beating himself up for the four interceptions and then came out and protected the ball at all costs.

Perhaps it led to some rather ordinary stats — Brady was good on 16 of 30 passes for a pedestrian 226 yards and two touchdowns.

Brady’s counterpart on the afternoon, Oakland’s Jason Campbell, wound up throwing for 344 yards against a still-broken New England pass defence, but like Brady a week earlier made crucial mistakes. Trying to throw a ball out of the New England end zone when the pocket started breaking down, Campbell threw the ball into the hands of Patrick Chung for a very costly turnover.

He would turn it over one more time and while he wound up winning the majority of the stats battle with Brady, the Oakland couldn’t overcome those two big mistakes, one of which cost the Raiders certain points and the other which led to New England points.

Looking back on that Miami opener when Brady quickly became the talk of the NFL with that huge statistical game, it’s almost like the three-time Super Bowl winner got too locked on to those stats and forgot the overriding importance of protecting the football.

As has become the custom in Patriots games this season, Wes Welker was Brady’s favourite target hauling in nine catches for 158 yards and an early touchdown that served to set the tone for the game.

Welker, in fact is on pace to break both the receptions record for a single season (143 by Marvin Harrison in 2002) and the receiving yards for a season (1848 by Jerry Rice in 1985).

Through a quarter of the season Welker is on pace for 160 catches and 2464 yards.

Brady being a little more careful with the football might not help Welker’s record chase, but it says here both men would gladly take the wins over any statistical accomplishment.

BIG BEN WATCH

The Steelers may have suffered much more than a loss on Sunday in Houston.

According to various reports, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left the stadium on crutches and in a walking boot following the loss. Texans rookie defensive end JJ Watt hit Roethlisberger low late in the game and rolled up on the Steelers quarterback. Roethlisberger finished the series but was limping noticeably.

He is expected to have an MRI Monday.

The problem is that even if he is able to play next week, his offensive line remains a huge question mark. Roethlisberger was sacked five times on Sunday and has been sacked 14 times so far this season. A smaller quarterback without Roethlisberger’s penchant for escaping trouble could easily have been sacked 20 or more times given the lack of protection he has had.

The Steelers are 2-2 with Roethlisberger in the lineup. They survived his four-game suspension to begin last season but this current Steelers team does not appear as able to withstand his loss as the 2010 version.

THIRD AND SHORT

The Eagles may want to take a look at their fourth-quarter production. In the past three weeks they have been outscored 36-0 ... Defensive end Trent Cole, who has been a force for the Eagles will have an MRI on Monday to look at a right calf injury that took him out of Sunday’s game ... Arian Foster’s return coincided with his replacement Ben Tate leaving Sunday’s game with a groin injury ... Broncos rookie linebacker Von Miller continues to shine even in defeat. Miller had two sacks in a 49-23 loss in Green Bay.

RODGERS JUST AWESOME

Four weeks into the 2011 season and they’re already running out of superlatives for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers threw for a career regular-season high 408 yards, threw a career-high tying four touchdowns, and ran two more touchdowns as the Packers embarrassed the visiting Denver Broncos 49-23.

“Aaron Rodgers obviously is playing extremely well,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters. “I can’t say enough. He is a special player.”

Forgive McCarthy for his inability to drum up suitable adjectives to describe his quarterback.

Rodgers has been so good, so often that it’s hard for McCarthy to get too excited about anything he does.

As for his team, McCarthy sounds pleased to be 4-0 but hardly satisfied.

“Trust me, we don’t have it all figured out as a football team,” McCarthy said. “We’re 4-0, but we’re very in tune with what we need to improve as a team.”

Presumably none of that improvement involves any changes to the game Rodgers is playing these days.


Videos

Photos