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Tom Brady Unveils New Way To Carry Team And Other Leftover Patriots Thoughts

BOSTON (CBS) -- Tom Brady has played in more than 225 NFL games, between the regular season and playoffs. It comes out to roughly 14,000 minutes of football.

Over the course of 15 years, we've pretty much seen his entire arsenal, whether it be short passes to Kevin Faulk, long bombs to Deion Branch or Randy Moss, intermediate bullets to Wes Welker or Julian Edelman, or whether it's the quarterback using his intellect at the line to check into a running play, Brady's pretty much shown everything there is to show from his bag of tricks.

Yet on Sunday afternoon, in Week 15 of Year 15, Brady pulled off something new.

Brady showed off his wheels.

Prior to the third quarter's opening drive, the quarterback had completed just seven of his 14 passes for 70 yards and an interception. The Patriots' offense had scored just seven points, and even then, it came after a short field thanks to a long interception return by Duron Harmon. After finishing the first half with fewer than 100 total yards of offense, the Patriots needed a spark.

And after the normally sure-handed Julian Edelman dropped a pass off his chest that would have set up a first-and-goal, Brady decided to take matters into his own hands. And he did it by ... running.

Not known for his mobility (because it doesn't really exist), Brady took a shotgun snap, ran toward the line of scrimmage, pump-faked to get linebacker Philip Wheeler to spin in a circle, tucked the football and turned the corner, finishing off his 17-yard run by lowering his shoulder and inviting contact with a rookie cornerback.

The unexpected rush gave the Patriots a first-and-goal from the 3-yard line, but it also lifted the entire team. LeGarrette Blount plunged into the end zone on the very next play, kicking off a run of 24 unanswered third-quarter points, turning a 14-13 halftime score into a one-sided blowout by mid-afternoon.

"I think it was a play that we needed to make," Brady said, "so it was good to make it at that time. I was going to slide, but I was pretty pissed off that time, so I figured I wouldn't slide."

If that's what happens when he gets pissed off, perhaps he ought to get upset more often.

Though Brady did get knocked to the turf, it was his willingness to take a hit and try to run over an opponent that spoke the loudest. When he popped off the turf and finished having words with Walt Aikens, Brady had himself the third-longest run of his career.

"Whatever it comes down to win, he'll do. So he saw the opening, he ran," Rob Gronkowski said. "That was huge. Huge props to him, and he does anything to win."

That he does, and fortunately for Brady, this one ended a lot better than a similar effort he made in the third quarter of a mid-December divisional matchup way back in 2001.

It's long forgotten, but Nate Clements nearly ended the legend of Tom Brady before it ever began. Thirteen years later, Brady's clearly learned quite a bit about the art of leverage, and it helped him lift his team in a whole new way.

(Also, it's been 13 years, but I think Brady's helmet is still rolling down the turf in Orchard Park.)

There is, of course, much more to dissect than one run from Brady, so let's run through all of the leftover thoughts from the Patriots' 41-13 win over the Dolphins.

--I understand and respect the fact that division titles aren't celebrated with parades in New England. More is expected out of the Patriots than a measly AFC East title. Still, the accomplishment should be recognized.

The Patriots have won 12 out of 14 division titles since 2001. Look around the NFL at the best teams, and nobody comes close to that. The Colts have won their division nine times since '01, the Eagles and Packers seven apiece, the Steelers and Seahawks six apiece, and the Broncos and Chargers five apiece.

In the meat of the 49ers dynasty (1981-94), they won 11 division titles in 14 years. The Steelers won nine division titles in the '70s and '80s. The mighty Cowboys went 6-for-10 winning the NFC East in the '90s.

Granted, those teams won a lot of Super Bowls, and until the Patriots do that, any other feat seems minor. For now, there are just these uncharacteristically cocky shirts:

Can't argue with facts.

--The play of the game, or at least one of the three most important plays of the game, was Jamie Collins' blocked field goal on the opening drive. Kyle Arrington scooped up the ball and ran it 62 yards for a touchdown, swinging the game 10 points in the Patriots' favor.

After the block, a number of voices openly questioned the Dolphins' decision to run the ball on a third-and-6 just prior to the kick, but for me, the real mistake took place on second down.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is a guy who can move, yet with some green space in front of him on second-and-9, Tannehill decided to jump and fire a bullet backward a yard to Rishard Matthews, who gained just three yards.

Ryan Tannehill
(Screen shot from

It's easy to say in retrospect that it was a costly mistake, but why Tannehill decided to throw that ball in the moment, I'll never know.

--In what is now officially a weekly tradition, I give you an image of Julian Edelman getting his head ripped off his body.

Julian Edelman
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Considering how badly the man gets mangled every week, he probably didn't need this late spear from Philip Wheeler:

Julian Edelman
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Dude takes a beating.

Julian Edelman
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--Congratulations are in order for Bryan Stork, after the rookie recorded his first career half-tackle following Brady's first-quarter interception. The Gillette Stadium crew later put a message on the video board to congratulate Stephen Gostkowski on setting the franchise record for points scored, but someone was asleep at the switch for this major career milestone for Stork.

Bryan Stork
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--The Patriots are tied for the best record in the NFL, and they own a large lead over everyone else in point differential at plus-162. The closest team in that category is Green Bay at plus-111. That the Patriots got to this point after starting 2-2 and getting outscored by 10 points in the first month would be mind-boggling, if not for the fact that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady seem to end up here every year, no matter what.

--Also noteworthy: Since 2001, the Patriots are 82-21 in games played after Thanksgiving. That's a .796 win percentage.

The next best team is Pittsburgh, with a .677 win percentage (65-31). It's not a coincidence that the Patriots are so good in December. With all of the film that teams have through three full months, it's when the Patriots can really cash in on the coaching advantage they have against their opponent every week.

--Here's another fact for you: In their past four games, the Patriots have allowed a total of six points in the second half. That's two full games' worth of football. Six points.

--Granted, I never had the arm strength or the height or the athleticism, but if I ever were an NFL quarterback, this is the precise moment when I would retire:

Vince Wilfork
(Screen shot from

I would just hand the ball over to Mr. Wilfork, remove my helmet and shoulder pads and slowly exit stage left. Not. Worth it.

--Speaking of Skinny Vinny, don't ever say that he's not a man of the people. Big Vince knew that millions of Americans were thoroughly disappointed after tuning in to see that man get "Eaten Alive" by an Anaconda last week. Well, Vince has you all covered. He decided to size up Lamar Miller and just eat the man whole.

Vince Wilfork
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--Nobody knows the rules in the NFL. In fact, the more you watch the NFL, the less you understand the rules. That's how it works. Yet what is absurd, truly, is the league's belief that it does what is necessary to protect players' brains. If your bare hand hits a quarterback's hard plastic helmet or metal facemask, you get penalized 15 yards. If you use your shoulder pad to hit a receiver in his shoulder as he bobbles a catch all the way across the field, you get penalized 15 yards.

But if you're a running back, your brain doesn't matter. Sorry. It stinks for you that opponents can hold your legs and other body parts, leaving you exposed in the middle of the field like a wounded zebra in the middle of a lion's den while a 200-pound safety or 230-pound linebacker sizes you up and then promptly demolishes you. But you're a running back, you see, so your brain is just not as important.

LeGarrette Blount
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

--Danny Amendola caught one pass for 11 yards, bringing his season totals to 15 receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown in 14 games. This season, he has more games with zero (0) catches than he does with multiple catches.

Danny Amendola makes $4.8 million.

But don't mind Danny. Danny's just chilling.

Danny Amendola
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--In the second quarter, Bill Belichick pulled his old "I'm going to go for it OH WAIT just kidding I'm going to rush my punt team onto the field for no real reason other than to mess with the inferior team on the opposing sideline" stunt. I frankly think it's a stupid thing they do, but they sure do it often.

But when they did it this time, Dan Fouts said that Belichick had "changed his mind," that the fourth-and-2 was "maybe a little bit farther than he thought."

Call me crazy, but I don't think William Stephen Belichick gets overwhelmed by the moment of a regular-season game at home against Miami in the second quarter.

--I don't know what was dumber: Ryan Tannehill pursuing Duron Harmon and getting himself bulldozed ...

Ryan Tannehill
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Ryan Tannehill
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... or Caleb Sturgis trying to make up 10 yards in a footrace with an NFL defensive back:

Kyle Arrington
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What are you doing, kicker? Just go back to the sideline.

--If Damien Williams makes this easy catch, who knows how much the game changes:

Damien Williams
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Joe Philbin had the greatest comment ever when asked about it:

"It looked like he had an opportunity to make a play."

Sure did!

--Brady's fire was obviously apparent on the 17-yard run, but it could also be seen when he berated the umpire after picking up two yards on a QB sneak. As someone who's not much of a fan of the work most of these officials do, I always appreciate seeing that.

--Speaking of officials, special shoutout to this guy for rooting so hard for this kickoff to go out of bounds, just so he could launch his yellow flag through the clouds:

(Screen shot from
(Screen shot from

Turn down for what?!

--It's the NFL, so people are always going to talk about things just to talk about them. That's the nature of the sport, you know? So I was never one to get all up in arms about the "Brady's not a top five QB" thing or "Brady's on the decline," because for one, that's just people talking about things, but secondly, it's simply not the case. The man is 37 years old, but his arm strength is as good as it ever was, his football IQ only grows with age, and he is still fearless when it comes to fitting passes into small windows.

Look no further than his 27-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski for proof.

Rob Gronkowski
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Rob Gronkowski
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Nice pass, right? Well he also delivered it while getting crushed by a 300-pound human being.

Tom Brady
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Top five, declining, whatever -- if you had a football team and you needed a win tomorrow, you'd be in good shape with Brady under center. That's all that really matters.

--"Hey. Hey, Dan. Dan Marino. Guess what I got? A Super Bowl ring! LOL! Anyway, see you later, buddy."

Drew Bledsoe and Dan Marino
Drew Bledsoe and Dan Marino (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

--Last week, Peyton Manning went to Buffalo and threw for 173 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, ending his streak of 51 straight games with a passing TD. This week, Aaron Rodgers went to Buffalo and threw for 185 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. It was the first game all season that Rodgers didn't throw a touchdown.

In my imagination, those two guys got together and conspired to ruin the fantasy football seasons of nerds around the country, just as the playoffs began. I imagine this to be true solely because it would make me happy.

Haha. Nerds.

--Tackling Robert Gronkowski remains a most unappealing task.

Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

--Hey. Jonas Gray is still alive. That's cool.

But LeGarrette Blount has 219 yards and three touchdowns on 50 carries in his four games with the Patriots, so I don't believe we'll be seeing Gray all that much in the next month.

--When Robert Kraft purchased the Patriots, the team had won just three division titles in 33 years of existence.

Now, the Patriots have won 12 in 14 years. Oh, whoopee, another division title, and it came in another million-point victory in this brand new stadium/mini-empire I built in a place that would probably just be a trailer park and a pet store if not for me. Ho-hum. What's for dinner?

Robert Kraft
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Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.


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