- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2009

For three-plus quarters Monday night, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looked mortal… and like a guy who hadn’t played a regular-season game in 53 weeks.

Something was missing. The Patriots posted only one touchdown in their first seven possessions. But with New England trailing Buffalo 24-13 and 5:32 remaining, that “something” returned.

In rallying the Patriots to a stunning 25-24 victory, Tom Terrific arrived, completing 11 of his final 13 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.

Consider the rust off. And consider the Patriots’ offense clicking, at least if their leaky pass protection holds up.

Brady tied a career high with 39 completions, and Randy Moss and Wes Welker each caught 12 passes.

“We had 14 plays there at the end that - not that they were perfect - but they were pretty good,” Brady told reporters this week. “You can’t have turnovers like we did. You can’t have penalties like we did. You can’t have negative runs, which we did. You can’t have miscommunications, which we did. Those last 14 plays, we didn’t have much of that.”

Brady, who suffered torn knee ligaments in last year’s opener, got plenty of work in the preseason, throwing 42 passes in three games. But regular-season football is different, and it’s understandable that Brady looked shaky early.

He and the Patriots survived the hyped-up opener and next face the New York Jets on Sunday at the Meadowlands. While New England needed a late rally to win, the Jets obliterated Houston 24-7.

“Of all the teams [in Week 1], I don’t think anybody could have played better than the Jets did,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

The game is intriguing on many levels. The offseason comment from Jets coach Rex Ryan about not coming to the AFC East “to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings.” The Jets’ blitzing defense. The absence of inside linebacker Jerod Mayo from the Patriots’ lineup. And Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins saying his team is approaching this game as if it’s the Super Bowl.

Of Jenkins’ comments, Brady said: “They can treat it however they want to treat it. We’re going to treat it like we treat every game. It’s an important game for us… but it’s not the Super Bowl. That doesn’t get played until February.”

The Patriots hit a major speed bump in Baltimore on their way to a 16-0 record and a Super Bowl loss two years ago. Brady was sacked three times, and New England escaped on his touchdown pass with 44 seconds remaining.

Ryan was Baltimore’s defensive coordinator. The Jets had two sacks last week.

“Take everything he did in Baltimore, white out ‘Baltimore’ and write ‘New York Jets’ and that’s what you got,” Belichick said.

The Jets have embraced Ryan’s bombastic personality and aggressive defensive philosophy. Ryan has been a welcome departure from former coach Eric Mangini, who even after wins looked like he was passing a kidney stone.

The Patriots, meanwhile, take after Belichick. To New England, this is Game 2 of 16. The Patriots have dominated their division (40-11 since 2001) in general and the Jets in particular (they’ve won 11 of the past 13 meetings).

“I think because we feel a certain way, we don’t necessarily need to tell everybody about it,” Brady said. “We’re confident. We have as much confidence as most teams in the league.”

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