- Associated Press - Thursday, December 2, 2010

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) - The stylist to the Patriots trimmed Tedy Bruschi’s black hair. In a nearby chair, Alge Crumpler waited his turn.

Just don’t expect to see Tom Brady’s locks on the floor of the salon.

“He’s too famous,” Terrence Manning said with a smile as he snipped away. “Right now, I would never cut his hair because I’m putting him up there like a Samson. He’ll start losing his strength if it gets cut in the middle of the season.”

Brady hasn’t thrown an interception in New England’s last six games. His completion percentage has increased in each of the last four. He set a team record for a second half with four touchdown passes against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. He also had a perfect passer rating in that 45-24 win and was chosen the AFC Player of the Week.

The longer his hair has grown _ it covers the back of his neck _ the better he seems to have played.

Coincidence?

“The way you start your hairstyle at the beginning of the year is the way you keep it,” said Bruschi, a 13-year linebacker with the Patriots before retiring after the 2008 season. “You just don’t change it. They’re 9-2. There’s not going to be any change now. If they’re 2-9, they’ll all need haircuts.”

Manning began cutting Patriots players hair about 10 years ago. He figures about 20 of them come to his salon in North Attleborough about 10 miles south of Gillette Stadium and some have become friends. He’s even given Brady his business card but doesn’t expect him to show up. Brady has said little publicly about all that growth.

“The long hair looks good on him,” Manning said. “I’d just take an inch off the bottom and give it some kind of shape, just to give it a style. I won’t make him look like Justin Bieber.”

Brady is concerned with keeping his offense flowing even as the public obsession with his hair intensifies. The leader of the NFL’s highest scoring team is focusing on the Patriots biggest game so far this season against the New York Jets on Monday night.

The teams are tied for the AFC East lead with the NFL’s best record going into the latest installment of their rich rivalry. It’s a chance for Brady to make up for one of his two losses, a 28-14 comeback win by the Jets in Week 2 in which he threw two of his four interceptions this year.

“We need to play a lot better this week to beat a team that has really been playing great football and has really proven they can win in a lot of different ways,” he said.

Brady is the NFL’s second-ranked passer, behind Michael Vick, and shares the league lead with 23 touchdown passes. His completion percentage of 66.3 is third best. A win Monday would break Brett Favre’s NFL record of 25 consecutive regular-season victories in home starts.

Much of Brady’s success is attributable to his off-field habits _ study, study, then study some more.

“He’s a nerd,” wide receiver Deion Branch joked. “This guy studies so much. The thing is, we’re in the room studying with him, going over a lot of things: positions, where he wants us to be when he’s getting ready to throw the ball. I think guys are, obviously, making sure they’re doing what he’s asking of them to do and the outcome will be pretty good.

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