Brady ready to take out ‘De­flate­gate’ frus­tra­tions

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Barry Wil­ner

CLEVE­LAND >> The NFL had its chance to dam­age the Pa­tri­ots while Tom Brady sat out his “De­flate­gate” sus­pen­sion. Now it’s New Eng­land’s turn to pun­ish the rest of the league.

Sure, Brady’s re­turn — 406 yards pass­ing, three touch­downs to Martel­lus Ben­nett , a 33-13 romp — came against the only win­less team, the spi­ral­ing, in­jury-rav­aged Browns. Still, you got the feel­ing had Brady thrown for five scores, a rea­son­able pos­si­bil­ity Sun­day, he would have been spell­ing out R-OG-E-R for each of them.

You also get the feel­ing Brady might throw for mul­ti­ple touch­downs ev­ery time out as he makes up for lost time.

Not that he will ad­mit that Com-

mis­sioner Roger Good­ell pro­vided ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion for the four-time Su­per Bowl cham­pion and two-time league MVP with the fourgame ban.

“This isn’t a time for me to re­flect,” Brady said. “There’s no point at look­ing back at any­thing. Whether we won Su­per Bowls or lost cham­pi­onship games or the last four weeks, none of it mat­ters. I’ve just moved on, man.”

He moves on to Cincin­nati, another reel­ing team with a suspect de­fense af­ter be­ing plun­dered by Dal­las. In Brady’s mind, he’ll get even sharper than he was at Cleve­land. It’s a fair point be­cause af­ter a dom­i­nant first half, there was some slip­page in the fi­nal pe­riod and a half he played.

“I think there was plenty of rust out there,” Brady said. “I could do bet­ter in a lot of ar­eas. I think it was a good win today. It was one game, and like I said, 4-1 is

a good point to be at for us. We have a long road ahead, so we have to stay fo­cused.”

The more Brady is fo­cused and the health­ier the Pa­tri­ots (4-1) get, the more un­en­vi­able it will be­come tak­ing on New Eng­land. On of­fense, he has as many weapons as ever in 2015 All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski and his side­kick at the po­si­tion, Ben­nett; Ju­lian Edel­man, Brady’s fa­vorite tar­get; and Danny Amendola, not a bad fourth op­tion at all.

The run­ning game isn’t so for­mi­da­ble, but it isn’t a debit if LaGar­rette Blount can stay healthy, al­low­ing James White to be a role player and third-down back.

Con­sider that the of­fen­sive line has been a jumble, yet New Eng­land leads an AFC East filled with medi­ocre or bad teams. Also con­sider that the de­fense, de­spite show­ing some leaks in the sec­ondary, has been pretty ef­fec­tive.

It’s cer­tainly tire­some for the other 31 NFL lo­cales to hear, but get­ting any­where near the Lom­bardi Tro­phy will re­quire knock­ing off New Eng­land. With a ticked­off Brady at the helm.

“It’s su­per great. He’s our leader. He’s our guy,” Gronkowski said. “He came out here on fire and we did what we had to do all week as an of­fense as a whole. It was awe­some. He’s our leader.”

Then Gronk the word­smith re­ally put things in per­spec­tive: “Ev­ery­one was in­tense today. Ev­ery­one was amped up. Tom al­ways brings the amp­ness to the ta­ble.”

Even though he will never say it, Brady will bring that “amp­ness,” an ex­tra edge to each game this year. It might not even be needed against the likes of the Jets, Dol­phins and Ben­gals in an AFC that looks weaker by the week. Or against San Fran­cisco.

But there are some chal­lenges ahead: at Pitts­burgh, Buf­falo and Den­ver, home for Seat­tle and Bal­ti­more, a team that tends to play New Eng­land tough.

Brady, of course, in­sists that he not only isn’t look­ing back, he’s not in­ter­ested in the fu­ture docket, other than the Ben­gals next Sun­day. His coach’s mantra reg­is­ters when Brady speaks in pub­lic, even if it rings hol­low when you see Brady in ac­tion on the field.

There’s no ques­tion he was ex­tra pumped for his re­turn. There should be no ques­tion, de­spite the ver­biage, that he will be equally revved up for­ever to over­shadow the sus­pi­cions of cheat­ing sparked by “De­flate­gate.”

“I want to do the best job I can for the city, for all of New Eng­land and for my team base and my fam­ily,” he said. “With all of these players, you put a lot into it, and there’s a lot that goes in, you have to make cer­tain choices in your life in or­der to play this game. You need a lot of sup­port from your fam­ily and friends to do that.

“I love run­ning out in front of 70,000 peo­ple that are cheer­ing for us. I love run­ning out to 20,000 fans that are cheer­ing for us and 50,000 are against us. We’re just go­ing to run out and play. If I have a chance to run out and play, I’m go­ing to do it.”

AP PHOTO/RON SCHWANE

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots’ Tom Brady (12) looks to throw against the Cleve­land Browns dur­ing the first half, Sun­day, in Cleve­land.

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