Blame it on the rain? Sure, why not.
Tom Brady entered this past Sunday’s matchup against the Bengals just two games shy of tying the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass – a record of 54 straight games that Drew Brees set just last season. Of course, football is a team game, but you know deep down Tom would have loved to pad his portfolio with this record. I mean, he at least couldn’t have been rooting against it. Ultimately though, in Sunday’s 13-6 loss to the Bengals, it simply was not meant to be.
The streak began during the season-opener on September 12, 2010, back when Chad Ochocinco was catching passes from Carson Palmer – as a Bengal. That particular game came against – you guessed it – the Cincinnati Bengals. Brady threw for three touchdowns that day; two of those went to Wes Welker, who was playing in his first game since suffering ACL and MCL tears in week 17 of the 2009 season. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were rookies. Randy Moss was still on the team and Deion Branch was yet to re-sign for his second (yet, hardly his last) stint. By the end of the season, Brady would wind up tossing 36 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions, in what would culminate in the league history’s sole unanimous MVP award. That was a mere three years ago, but it feels like ages.
On Sunday, Brady had no Welker to fall back on. Instead, Welker was miles away, catching passes from some dude named Peyton Manning, one of which went for a touchdown. Acting as Welker’s successor to the “slot throne” was Danny Amendola, who had just returned from an injury of his own…again. Normally playing with superglue hands, Amendola dropped three balls; it was evident there were still remnants of rust on those mitts. And oh yeah, the rain thing. Darn slippery footballs. However, it wasn’t just Amendola who had problems reeling in the football, as the Pats dropped a total of six passes.
Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman, and Amendola each got a crack at the end zone in the fourth quarter – during the same drive, actually – but it didn’t happen. Instead, they were forced to settle for a field goal and cut the lead to 13-6, while the Bengals continued to chew up the clock with their running game. Despite a Cincinnati fumble late in the fourth quarter that nearly set the stage for Tom Brady’s twenty-eighth career fourth quarter-comeback, an ill-timed mini-hurricane at Paul Brown stadium would not allow it. And as that last wet ball slipped out of Brady’s hand and into those of Adam “Pacman” Jones, the crowd went wild. Streak over.
Brady’s stats during the streak: 103.9 QB rating, 64.4% completed passes, 116 touchdowns, and 26 interceptions.
Brady’s stats this past Sunday: 52.2 QB rating, 47.4% completed passes, zero touchdowns, and one interception. I’m sure Tom would LOVE to take a mulligan this time around.
Listen, we all knew the Bengals’ staunch defense would pose a threat to the New England offense, but at the end of the day, the Patriots and their fans need to move on and look forward to week six – at home against the undefeated Saints. Want some optimism? There is solid speculation that Gronkowski will return this week and Amendola is back NOW. Ridley will be back soon (the 2012 version, please) and Vereen will return shortly after midseason. Plus, the defense is clicking and Tommy Kelly says “everything’s all right,” in regards to his knee scare. Besides, 4-1 is really not that bad after all, is it? Of course not.
So 52 games later, a streak that began with the Bengals, came to a rainy and unfortunate, albeit poetic finale against the Bengals. On the bright side, look for Brady and his young offense to get back on track with the start of a brand new touchdown streak in week six. Relax kids. I think I see the sun on the horizon…