The Patriots' latest miraculous win, their seventh straight, will be remembered for late-game heroics and another fine defensive effort. It will be remembered as quarterback Tom Brady's 12th fourth quarter comeback victory in 44 career starts and for being New England's eighth straight overtime win and seventh for Brady, who is 7-0 in extra sessions. But the offensive play of the game probably didn't involve heroes Daniel Graham or Kevin Faulk or any one of Brady's 47 passes. It involved one of the Texans' four sacks.
There was 6:27 left in overtime and Brady stepped under center facing a third-and-six from his own 13-yard line. He was having a productive day passing, but had uncharacteristically turned the ball over three times, twice via interceptions and once on a fumble. So here he was trying to mount another overtime drive to victory. But as he dropped back to pass, Texans linebacker Jamie Sharper shot clean into the backfield from Brady's front side - a protection breakdown that could've cost New England the game. The quarterback, his eyes focused downfield, never saw Sharper, who buried him with a crushing blow at the 4-yard line that left one wondering how Brady held on to the football.
Somehow he did and by doing so he enabled a punt, and his defense gave him one more possession with time running out in overtime. It's all he needed to march the Patriots to another dramatic win.
While his ability to hold on to that ball staved off disaster, his late-game heroics, which are becoming commonplace, clinched his fourth late-game comeback win of the season. He engineered a final-minute touchdown drive in regulation that ended on a fourth-and-one rollout from the 4-yard line on which he faced pressure and threw to a covered Graham in the end zone as he faded away from the goal line. Graham, who had two earlier drops, made the leaping touchdown catch on a play that was eerily similar to the Joe Montana-to-Dwight Clark play affectionately known as "The Catch."
"It didn't look good there for a while," a relieved Brady said. "But it showed that we have a lot of heart and perseverance."
It would be taboo to compare a young Brady to Montana, who was the Patriots quarterback's boyhood hero when he was growing up in San Mateo, Calif., but his late-game comebacks are becoming reminiscent of Montana's. And it's not as if he hasn't done it on the big stage.
He drove the Patriots to a final second Super Bowl win in his first season as
an NFL starter and has never lost an overtime game.
"He really made some key throws under pressure," head coach Bill Belichick said. "He really did a good job."
Perhaps the most amazing part of his 29-of-47, 368-yard, two touchdown, two interception game was the fact that he did it with three of his top four receivers on the sideline in David Patten (IR), Troy Brown (leg) and David Givens (leg). He did it with by throwing to Kevin Faulk out of the backfield (eight catches for 108 yards) and to two receivers signed last week in J.J. Stokes and Dedric Ward.