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It didn’t hurt New England when it saw that Ryan’s come-at-you defense was laying back more than it had for most of the game, when it had five sacks and plenty more pressures on Brady.

Playing not to lose.

“This was one of those games that became a matter of red zone stops,” Edwards said. “A couple times New England couldn’t score in the red zone. But when you keep it close, with two elite quarterbacks, when you get that, it all depends on who has the ball last, and that’s what happened. Never fails.”

Brady rarely fails in such situations, particularly when he is facing a three-man rush. As Edwards noted, Ryan tried to mix up his schemes and twice did rush five men, hoping to force Brady into an uncomfortable throw.

Rob did a few things, and Brady got them on a post pass over the middle,” Edwards said. “When you bring pressure and they hit you for a play, you back off.”

Why? At least if the opponent quickly beats your aggressive defense with a big play, you have time to rally with one of your own. Brady might be the master at such comebacks, but Brees isn’t too bad, either.

“Here’s the crazy part: Tom had the ball three times to beat you,” Edwards said. “Give him three times and he is going to beat you.”


AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this story.


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