Rushed job not done right
Pressure caused Brady to make his critical error
MIAMI -- On third and 9 at his 21-yard line with less than two minutes to play and the Patriots hanging on to a 28-23 lead, Tom Brady dropped back and spotted what he thought was an open Daniel Graham.
The next thing he knew, Jason Taylor was at his knees, the ball was fluttering out of his hands and into the hands of Brendon Ayanbadejo, and the Dolphins were a mere 21 yards from a winning touchdown.
Taylor's rush took the Patriots by surprise.
"I'll have to see it on film," said lineman Joe Andruzzi.
"Nope," said center Dan Koppen, shaking his head. "Didn't see it."
"I'm not sure," said Brady. "I'll have to see the film."
While Brady and his teammates weren't sure how Taylor had broken in so quickly, the quarterback knew he had committed one of the biggest mistakes of his career. Although Taylor, who had sacked Brady for a 6-yard loss earlier in the game, had rushed into the Patriots' backfield an instant after the snap, Brady thought he had time to find Graham. A completion might have iced the game. Instead, the pass cost the Patriots a win.
"If we make that play down the field, we win the game," Brady said. "That's when mistakes come -- when you try to make a play when there isn't one."
If Brady had taken the sack it would have led to a New England punt. That's what Ayanbadejo thought the New England quarterback was going to do. A punt most likely would have driven the Dolphins into their half of the field. Instead, Miami had only 21 yards to go.
"I thought he was going to get sacked, and I was just chilling," Ayanbadejo said. "All of a sudden, I saw the ball and I went to go get it. I knew I'd catch it. That's mandatory."
Although the Taylor rush and the Ayanbadejo interception -- Brady's third of the game -- led to A.J. Feeley's fourth-down, 21-yard touchdown pass to Derrius Thompson, Brady's throw was just one of many mistakes the Patriots' offense made. The offensive line didn't give its quarterback enough time to throw. The receivers couldn't shake the blanketing coverage of the Miami cornerbacks.
"It wasn't what they were doing," said Koppen. "We weren't doing our jobs. I don't think we executed down the stretch. They did."
After Ayanbadejo's pick led to the winning touchdown, another underthrown Brady pass found its way to Arturo Freeman on New England's last drive. Brady finished with 18 completions on 29 attempts for 171 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.
"You're not going to win throwing four interceptions," Brady said. "We gave them a 20-yard field instead of a longer one. It comes down to decision-making and I made a terrible decision. You can't expect anything good to come of that."
His teammates, however, shook off their quarterback's wobbly outing.
"It's not even a question," Koppen said of a Brady rebound against the New York Jets. "We've got all the confidence in the world in him."