It was a 13-14 game with 18 seconds remaining before halftime at Qualcolmm Stadium.
The New England Patriots had journeyed the football down inside the San Diego Chargers’ 19-yard line, and the offense was looking to take a lead heading into intermission from there. But as Tom Brady dropped back and targeted tight end Rob Gronkowski off his back foot, those plans fell through.
The Chargers took the ball back instead. An interception by second-year linebacker Manti Te’o stopped New England’s offense in its tracks. And it stopped the Patriots quarterback on the field in his own tracks as well.
“The timing of the play got screwed up, and I just made a dumb decision to try to throw that ball,” Brady said during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan on Monday. “It was a bad play. I’ve got to eliminate those. We just don’t need those.”
New England battled back to win by a score of on 23-14 Sunday night. Yet what could have been points before the half left Brady battling himself, disgusted, and taking it out on the grass beneath him.
He did so with a certain four-letter word.
“I wish I did have a better mouth out there at times, but there’s nothing that quite expresses the way I feel like that word,” Brady said. “It is, it is [a great word], especially in the heat of the moment.”
Brady and the Patriots fed off the frustration and profanities, shutting the Chargers out in the second half behind an imposing defensive stand and an offensive resurgence.
All of those elements were captured between plays and during them.
“We’re not choirboys, I know that,” Brady added. “You bring us up to a certain level of intensity to the game, you’re job is to go out there and physically, emotionally, mentally dominate the game. You don’t do that at church on Sunday. You’ve got to go to the football field for that.”
The way the 37-year-old plays the game is reflective of the way he feels about it. But his teammates have followed suit in their own way.
“It’s such an emotional game,” he said. “You’ve got to bring it every week. That’s what you’ve got to do,” Brady said. “Especially when you’re making good plays like our guys were making last night, it makes it pretty easy to get excited about it. You’re always trying to level everybody’s level of awareness, raise their level of play so that you can go out there and be as excited as you possibly can. I’ve always played that way, and I probably will until the day I hang these cleats up.”
Brady and the 10-3 Patriots are now in control of the AFC heading into the final four games of the regular season. Yet the song remains the same as the schedule shifts back to the AFC East. Perhaps even the words used to sing it remain the same, too.
“We’re just going to keep grinding away. Certainly by no means have we reached the finish line. We’re closer to our goals, but we’ve still get some really tough tests ahead. Playing this week obviously for a division championship will be huge, so we’ve got to go out there and we’ve got to try to accomplish it.”