FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots’ quarterback ran out of the pocket toward the right sideline, where he was about to be confronted by a Jets linebacker yesterday. Tom Brady made a wise choice. He slid out of bounds at midfield.
Drew Bledsoe had confronted a similar situation earlier in the fourth quarter. Bledsoe paid the price, ending up on the wrong side of a collision with Mo Lewis, and eventually had to be replaced.
“You are just trying to get out of bounds and get as much yardage as you can in that situation,” Brady said.
Asked if he had considered the consequences suffered by Bledsoe, Brady replied:
“I’ve played a lot of football. And if I got hit that hard I would be in the hospital for a month. That shows you how tough, and big and strong, that guy is.
“Drew is such a fighter. Sometimes he will try to make a first down - those big guys were running fast and he got hit as hard as I’ve ever seen anyone get hit.”
Bledsoe returned for three more plays. But coach Bill Belichick summoned Brady for a last-gasp attempt to rally from a 10-3 deficit with 2:16 on the clock.
Brady had immediate success, advancing the Patriots from the New England 26-yard line to the 49, then, following a penalty, calling on his instincts of self-preservation to run out of bounds at the 50. It was certainly the right choice. Damon Huard was presumably able and willing to fill in, but had he entered he would have been the Patriots’ third quarterback in 11 plays.
That also allowed Brady to maintain his faculties for the final 33 seconds. On the next play, Brady completed a 21-yard pass to David Patten. There would effectively be three more plays. All three were Brady incompletions, but the last two - a Hail Mary toss into the end zone and a throw to Charles Johnson on the goal line - indicated Brady’s composure and passing touch. Brady also thrived on the immediacy of the two-minute drill situation.
“Once you get going, the defense is on their heels,” Brady said.
Indeed, Brady had little time to prepare for his stand-in role. Asked if he thought Bledsoe had been injured on the fateful play, Brady said, “You have to ask Drew. I was too busy getting warmed up. I was just being prepared. It was a situation where, if he got hit again, you never know.”
Asked Belichick’s method of informing him of the change, Brady replied, “He said, `Drew is out and you’re in.’ That’s all it takes. I would have loved to pull it off. Every guy in this locker room would have loved to pull it off.”
Brady is clearly an admirer of Bledsoe and, for that reason, content to be the second-string quarterback.
“That’s the role of a backup quarterback,” Brady said. “It could be two minutes at the beginning of the game or two minutes at the end. It’s a situation of going in and trying to do the job. I knew we needed a touchdown to tie the game. The last play was pretty close. Everyone was out fighting to the last play. Hopefully, we won’t be in a position where it has to go down to the last play. We didn’t have to be in that situation because you can’t win many games that way.”