FOXBOROUGH -- Funny juxtaposition: On the day he was named to the Pro Bowl Tom Brady was answering questions about how poorly he played in a 29-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins Monday night. He probably didn't feel much like a Pro Bowler yesterday in the aftermath of throwing four interceptions and squandering an 11-point lead with less than four minutes remaining.
His boss, Bill Belichick, wasn't fazed. A career winning percentage of .767 (46-14) in his first 60 NFL starts buys Brady some good will.
Nobody felt worse about the outcome than Brady, who returned home on the Patriots' charter in the wee hours of the morning Tuesday and quickly turned on a tape of the game and began dissecting his horrific night.
The play that sticks out was the third interception, when Brady, about to be taken down by Jason Taylor, lofted a pass in the general direction of tight end Daniel Graham. Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo easily picked it off, and the Dolphins, down 28-23, had the ball at the Patriots' 21 with 1:52 remaining. Four plays later they had the lead.
"I think everybody realizes it was a poor decision, myself included," said Brady. "Right at the top of the list. I think a play like that comes up and then it turns out the way it turns out and you evaluate yourself very critically and very harshly. Sometimes I've said your bad decisions end up being incompletions or taking a sack. Taking a sack is usually not very good, but in that situation it would've been pretty good. But, in the heat of the moment, you make poor decisions and I'm trying to train myself that, in the most critical of situations, that you try not to make as poor a decision as I made. That play in particular, that's the type of play that loses games, and that's what happened. So, hopefully if that situation comes up again, I'll take the sack. That's how you learn from it."
Belichick wasn't too tough on his quarterback.
"The quarterback has the ball in his hands more than any other player on the team and he has to make decisions with it. When to throw it, who to throw it to, whether to put air on it, whether to drive it, whether he can get it off, whether he can't -- that's what a quarterback does and I'm glad Tom Brady is our quarterback. Just leave it at that. Is every play perfect? No. But I'm glad he's our quarterback. There isn't anybody else I'd rather have," Belichick said.
The week before against the Cincinnati Bengals Brady completed a similar pass, finding Patrick Pass as he was about to land on the seat of his pants. Against Miami, a similar pass turned into a game-turning interception.
"You judge your risk," Brady said. "Part of playing quarterback is making the right decision and it's the right decision when it works and it's the wrong decision when it doesn't work. When you make your wrong decision, you have to live to pay the consequences, and I think we've done that and I think everybody in the locker room was disappointed in the outcome of the game, that it was a missed opportunity." Brady believes he'll learn from that mistake, and has already put it behind him. He's looking ahead to this Sunday, when the Patriots visit the New York Jets. Brady understands this is crunch time. The Patriots have already clinched the AFC East, and at worst could blow a first-round bye with bad showings against the Jets and San Francisco 49ers in the season finale. But in 2001, their first Super Bowl season, the Patriots finished with six straight wins to end the regular season. Last season, it was 12 straight wins. Now they've got two games to get back on track. "The things that went wrong last week we're trying to improve just as the things that went wrong two weeks ago we tried to improve for last week," Brady said. "But you really have to work at it and you have to put the time in and the commitment to understanding what you're doing wrong and the commitment to go out there to try to do it better."