Thursday October 18, 2012

FOXBOROUGH -- The shaking that Tom Brady felt was an earthquake, not the New England Patriots' season falling apart.

The hard-to-rattle quarterback was turning in early when the tremor centered in southern Maine struck at 7:12 p.m. on Tuesday. He said he was asleep soon after, catching up on his rest after returning Monday morning from the Patriots' stunning loss in Seattle.

The northern California native is used to earthquakes hitting the West Coast.

"The big one, ‘89. How could I forget that?" Brady said on Wednesday, the 23rd anniversary of that Bay Area ‘quake. "But we don't get them back here. It's a pretty rare occurrence."

Just like a .500 record for the three-time Super Bowl champions. That's what the Patriots have now, their worst mark six games into a season since 2005.

But Brady remains confident that they will bounce back.

"I don't think six games defines a season," he said. "I think that what will define our season is what we do over the course of the next 10 weeks."

The Patriots dropped to 3-3 when they blew a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost to the Seahawks 24-23 last Sunday. He threw two interceptions, one into the end zone, and was called for two intentional grounding penalties. The first came on the last play of the first half and required a 10-second runoff that cost the Patriots a shot at a field goal.


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Brady said the chance to rebound from a subpar performance doesn't provide extra motivation -- and neither does the opportunity to do it against the Patriots intense AFC rivals, the New York Jets, on Sunday.

"I would say the focus is always the same for me, to try to be consistent and dependable and to be a good leader for this team, and certainly go out and execute the plays," he said. "No one expects to go out there and not play their best, but we don't go 16-0 every year. So you're going to have to deal with some ups and downs and learning curves and not doing your best and finding some mental toughness to move on and go out there and play your best the next week."

The Patriots were 16-0 in 2007 then won two playoff games before their perfect season was ruined by a 17-14 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants.

Last Sunday, Brady's performance was just one of the Patriots' problems. Their secondary gave up big plays, their pass rush was minimal and their running game unproductive.

But they try to ignore outside talk about all that.

"You've got to have that focus and I know we have it," wide receiver Deion Branch said. "I don't think we're sitting back worried about the negative talk about our team because we can only control what we can control. The media's going to say what they're going to say and we have to just worry about the Patriots."

All four AFC East teams are 3-3 -- the Patriots, Jets, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. On paper, the Patriots have the best team and should be favored to win the division.

But they've lacked consistency, winning their first game losing the next two, winning two more, then losing to the Seahawks.

Fans get excited then disappointed, over and over again.

"It's because we only play once a week and there's a lot to talk ... over the course of those seven days," Brady said. "I think it's important for us players not to ride the roller coaster of emotions that your family may have or your friends may have or the questions that we get.

"I think the important thing is to keep trying to improve and get better and focus on the opponent and not what's being said or what you hear. You just try to say, ‘This is where we're at. This is what my coach thinks. This is what we're going to try to do and this is how we're going to try to win this game.'"

The Patriots nearly won all six this season. The three losses were decided in the final minute with two losses by one point and one by two.

But a loss is a loss.

Might it be easier to follow that by playing a familiar team, like the Jets, who face the Patriots twice a year during the regular season?

"I don't know," left tackle Nate Solder said. "I'd rather not come off a loss, I guess."

Brady isn't sure it matters either.

"Every week the preparation is probably a little bit different based on the scheme you're playing," he said. "When you play a team you don't play very often, you try to get up to speed as quickly as you can and understand their strengths and weaknesses.

"Certainly [with] a team like the Jets, we know what they do well and we try to find ways to exploit the things that we don't think they do very well. We probably know these guys better than just about anybody."

The Patriots themselves are tough to figure out with their shaky defense and inability to take control with their strong offense late in the game.

One thing they do know is that they must keep their emotions in check, no matter if they're in the Super Bowl, as they were last season, or in the middle of the pack, as they are now.

"You just rely on your experience and you rely on your coaches and you try to convey the message to the younger players that we're not 0-6," Brady said. "There are other teams that are in worse positions than we are."

Just not as many as usual.