Brady: This Will Be The Toughest Game

With all things being equal, the Patriots should be on solid ground when they face the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium Sunday. But these aren't the Ravens of old and Tom Brady knows it. Baltimore is considered the best team in the NFL right now and the Patriots realize it will be their toughest challenge so far, and maybe all year.

The defense got it right last weekend against Atlanta. Now it's the offense's turn to correct all the mistakes from the first two weeks of the season.

Good luck.

Should Tom Brady and Company light up the scoreboard this weekend, they'll deserve a gold star for their efforts because they'll be facing a stingy Baltimore Ravens team known primarily through the years for its stout defense and hard-hitting attitude.

The game is at Gillette Stadium, but home hasn't exactly been sweet for the Patriots thus far offensively. Up until their game-saving comeback in Week 1, they were shut down by the Bills, and Atlanta gave them fits last week, forcing the Pats to lean on Stephen Gostkowski for four field goals.

The bottom line is the Patriots haven't exactly clicked on all cylinders since Brady's return, perhaps an indication that the bar has been set too high. Either that, or Brady is not 100 percent since returning from offseason knee surgery.

"We're continuing to work at it," Brady said. "I think every day in practice, we're trying to improve our execution. We've had a lot of moving parts, everybody is trying to learn each other and understand each other.

"Sometimes it shows up in a game, sometimes it doesn't show up so well. It's a long season for us. Being 2-1, I wish we were 3-0 -- we haven't played well enough to be 3-0 -- I think really what we're focusing on this week is playing this team that can do everything and do everything very well. So we've got to go out there and have a great week."

One of the biggest problems for the offense is its performance in the red zone. The Patriots haven't been terrible between the 20-yard lines, but once they get close to the end zone, things seem to fall apart.

So what's the problem?

"Execution," Brady said. "There are guys that are open and there are plays to be made, we're just not making them. We all have to do a better job of focusing on the techniques down there, and how we're trying to execute, and ultimately go out there and make the plays."

They'll have to correct those problems against a Baltimore defense that features superstar Ed Reed, who can cause problems for any offense.

"I was hoping that he'd take this week off," Brady said. "He's tough back there on quarterbacks. It feels like he leads the league in interceptions every year, which is tough to do when every team goes into the game thinking that we're not throwing Ed Reed interceptions. And he does. He just makes some spectacular plays He's fun to watch from a quarterback's standpoint because you really appreciate what he's able to do. It's a great defense and he's one of the leaders, obviously, with Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. They've really got some playmakers over there. But Ed's as good as anybody."

Brady almost learned that the hard way two years ago when Reed and the Ravens nearly wrecked New England's perfect season in a hard-fought game at Baltimore.

"They kept us off the field quite a bit. They had the timeout that was called on the quarterback sneak, which I still claim that I heard no whistle. And then there was the fourth-down play where I scrambled, and then the one to Jab (Jabar Gaffney) where he caught it. It was awesome. Every time we play them, they're so good and so talented that it's always a close game. So we've got our work cut out for us."

Clearly, it's not 2007 anymore -- not for the Patriots, who are struggling offensively, or the Ravens, who are arguably better now than they were two years when they nearly derailed New England on its path to perfection.

"They're 3-0 now," Brady said, "so it's going to be the toughest game we've played."

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