Pa­tri­ots, Chiefs ready for re­match

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NFL - By Mark Farinella

FOXBOR­OUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady wanted to make one thing clear: He did not in­jure his toe dur­ing a try­out to be­come the Pa­tri­ots’ new place­kicker.

“Nope, that’s not how I hurt it, and I’m not the new kicker,” the star quar­ter­back said.

The 42-year-old Brady ac­tu­ally has kicked in the NFL. He’s punted three times in 20 sea­sons, with a long of 48 yards against the Bron­cos in the 2011 play­offs.

But the Pa­tri­ots’ search for a reg­u­lar place­kicker — Satur­day they re-signed Nick Folk, who had an ap­pen­dec­tomy last week — will have to go on with­out Brady, who is fo­cus­ing his prepa­ra­tion on the Chiefs de­fense prior to Sun­day’s home game.

It’s a re­match of last sea­son’s AFC cham­pi­onship game, a 37-31 Pa­tri­ots vic­tory in over­time at Ar­row­head Sta­dium.

The Pa­tri­ots en­ter at 10-2, hav­ing lost 28-22 to the Tex­ans on Sun­day in Hous­ton.

The Chiefs are 8-4 and have won their last two games.

The Pa­tri­ots tra­di­tion­ally bounce back well from losses, and Brady said it was be­cause Bill Belichick puts the team in the proper frame of mind.

“There’s been a lot of ur­gency, I think, both when we win and when we lose,” Brady said. “Coach puts us right back into the mode of prepa­ra­tion, and gets us ready to play a game. This is a big one, it’s on our sched­ule next, and it’s a big chal­lenge for us.”

Brady said there are changes in the Chiefs de­fense from last year’s AFC ti­tle game, which was to be ex­pected with the hir­ing of Steve Spag­n­uolo as de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

“They have a lot of play­mak­ers and have added some guys that are mak­ing a lot of plays for them,” Brady said. “(De­fen­sive end) Frank Clark, (safety) Tyrann Mathieu, and they have guys that have been there, (safety Daniel) Soren­son, (cor­ner­back Bashaud) Bree­land’s a good player, (cor­ner­back Char­var­ius) Ward was there last year, so, I’ve got a lot of re­spect for this de­fense. They make you earn it.”

In the midst of his film study, how­ever, Brady said he couldn’t help but be im­pressed by the play of his op­po­site num­ber, Chiefs quar­ter­back Pa­trick Ma­homes.

“There’s a lot of great traits, as a player and a leader,” Brady said. “There are things that he does that are hard to teach.”

De­spite miss­ing two games with a dis­lo­cated right kneecap, Ma­homes has thrown for 2,983 yards and 20 touch­downs with just two in­ter­cep­tions, com­plet­ing 64.5% of his passes.

Brady is av­er­ag­ing 26 fewer pass­ing yards per game and has thrown 18 TD passes with six in­ter­cep­tions, com­plet­ing 61.1 per­cent of his tosses.

“He sees plays to make that a lot of other quar­ter­backs wouldn’t see, just be­cause of his abil­ity to do it,” Brady said of the third-year vet­eran.

“He’s just a phe­nom­e­nal player, and he picked up this year where he left off last year.”

Brady, 18 years older than Ma­homes, went out of his way at Ar­row­head last year to seek out his young foe in the lock­ers and speak at length with him, some­thing he couldn’t do on the field.

“He’s a great player and he had a great sea­son,” Brady said. “I think that with the cel­e­bra­tion and so forth that went on on the field af­ter the game, I didn’t get a chance to tell him that. We’re all in this sport and we all watch each other play a lot of foot­ball. We study ev­ery­one and you kind of gain ad­mi­ra­tion for what they do and how they do it.”

“It’s not a big group of guys that are do­ing it at one par­tic­u­lar time,” he said, “and for five months of my life, I’m pretty much to­tally ded­i­cated to foot­ball and watch­ing tape, and watch­ing quar­ter­backs do things. We have a lot of things in com­mon.”

REED HOFF­MANN/AP

Brady says Chiefs QB Pa­trick Ma­homes pos­sesses a lot of “great traits.”

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