Challenge starts with Brady

Stopping the unstoppable. Take away his best weapons and he dishes the ball to someone else. Fault lines in his protection and he squeezes a bullet to his receiver. Remove key players from his defense and he shoulders the weight. That is what Tom Brady brings to the table and the Chargers will have to find a way to thwart him between singing his praises.

With key members of the Patriots out, it would seem the Chargers are striking at the right time.

But New England is at home, their fortress of Gillette Stadium. The last battle one by an opponent dates back to a time when castles were en vogue.

Every team that enters the Patriots turf believes they will be the ones to claim victory and like the rude Frenchman atop Sacred Castle they Patriots yell, "Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time."

Reasons are many but look no further than the man who boldly steps under center and performs his wizardry behind the line. Tom Brady is the gatekeeper and dictates the pace of the game.

"I had one guy ask me if he ever misses a guy that is open," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "I said now and then, but not very often."

It is that confidence and leadership the Chargers must derail this weekend to have a shot at unseating the Patriots.

"Everyone talks about the confidence Tom Brady has and what he does and I don't doubt that," Schottenheimer began. "Let's not overlook the confidence that he brings to every other guy on that football teams on offense or defense or the kicking game. Let's get the ball back; let's get field position because Tom can do it. He is certainly not a one-man gang there, but I think to me the one thing a quarterback can bring is hope and certainly he not only brings you hope, but in most cases if you give him an opportunity he will get it done."

So how do you combat that? Pressure is one option but Schottenheimer warns, "At some point in time you have to cover because you can't blitz all the time."

Brady mixes in most of his receivers with ten different players notching a reception and four players with ten or more.

A lot of the routes are meant to throw off the coverage, mixing in crossing and slant routes that may draw an extra man and open up a hole in a seam.

"Tom Brady is a great quarterback," linebacker Shawne Merriman said. "He sees the field. He steps up in the pocket. He knows when to throw the ball. He is a vet quarterback. The only thing you can do is try to get him uncomfortable as much as you can and try and prevent him from making those deep throws and good decisions."

Brady understands that he is a target. It has been the same song for the last few years. Every week he meets the maker and bats an eye. And he is well versed on San Diego's strengths.

"They're big inside and they probably have one of the most athletic group of linebackers that we'll see all year," Brady said of the Chargers. "Guys in the secondary can make a lot of plays. They put a lot of pressure on the quarterback."

That is the hope on Sunday. Pressure, different looks, and perhaps an off-night by a premiere quarterback. You won't surprise Brady and the challenge is for everyone on defense to bring their "A" game.


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