BOSTON (CBS) — This is the time of the year when the best teams play their best football.
A gigantic part of the Patriots playing their best football is keeping Tom Brady upright and his uniform clean of any grass or turf stains. That wasn’t the case last Sunday.
While Brady was able to throw for four touchdowns in New England’s 35-17 win over the Dolphins, the quarterback also spent much of his afternoon on his back. He was sacked once, hit eight times and pressured nearly every time he dropped back to pass. Even thought the final score was a lopsided one in the Patriots’ favor, it’s always worrisome to see the face of the franchise get pummeled play after play.
But Brady, sporting a TB12 “Pliability” shirt at the podium on Friday, couldn’t have been more complimentary about his offensive line ahead of Sunday’s matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
“Our line, I have as much confidence in them as I ever had,” said Brady, taking fault for some of the hits he took last weekend. “Some of those looks are unblockable at the end of the day, and it’s the quarterback’s responsibility too. Getting hit is part of the position.”
The New England offensive line has been a bit shorthanded over the past month, with starting right tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle) missing the last three games and center David Andrews the previous two with an illness. Cannon’s backup, LaAdrian Waddle, had to leave last Sunday’s game with an ankle injury, leaving Cameron Fleming to take over on the right side. Cannon and Waddle are likely out against on Sunday, with a slight chance that Andrews could return.
“It’s an incredibly difficult job,” Brady said of his linemen. “There’s five of them and they have to coordinate everything up front. There are a lot of different rush packages and you’re facing some of the best athletes in the world. You’re always on the defense as an offensive lineman; you’re always going backwards. Our guys do a great job keeping their poise, they are so well coached and they take it to heart. They play together and do everything together. They’re a great group.
“I think they’re doing a hell of a job and I love all of those guys. They work hard for our offense and it all starts with them. In the run game or pass game, you can’t do anything if those guys aren’t playing as well as they’re playing,” he said.
At least the Pats will be going against a Buffalo defense that has just 17 sacks this season, the second-fewest in the NFL. Brady also owns the Bills, bringing a 26-3 record against them to Buffalo this weekend, and is 54-10 in December over his career.
“Coach Belichick said it best the other day, whether you’re 5-5 or 10-0, it depends on what you do going forward,” said Brady. “I was here in 2001 and we were 5-5 and we didn’t lose a game after that. A few years ago we were 10-0 and didn’t do so well after that. So much of your season is dependent on how you do at this point moving forward. We put ourselves in a decent position but we’re going to have to capitalize.”