Mi­ami not a place where Brady has ex­celled

Stamford Advocate - - Sports -

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady has one sim­ple an­swer to why his New Eng­land Patriots have strug­gled in Mi­ami.

“They play well and we don’t,” Brady said Fri­day.

He was smil­ing, but you know — and he knows — win­ning in Mi­ami is one thing in a bril­liant ca­reer that Brady hasn’t been able to do con­sis­tently. Look at the num­bers:

Brady is 7-9 at Mi­ami, where the Patriots have lost four of the last five years. He is 15-1 against the Dol­phins at home.

Brady has lost seven ca­reer games in De­cem­ber, five of them at Mi­ami.

Brady is 79-19 against the AFC East in the reg­u­lar sea­son, with 10 of the losses com­ing at the hands of the Dol­phins, a team he has beaten 22 times.

“Re­gard­less, none of that stuff mat­ters,” Brady said. “This week it’s re­ally this team against that team and we’re go­ing to have to play well. They play good at home, they’re 5-1, they’ve got a good de­fense, we’ve got a big chal­lenge. Should be fun.”

And the Patriots are fa­vored to win this game, which would give them their 10th straight AFC East ti­tle, the 18th in 25 years un­der owner Robert Kraft. The divi­sion is con­sis­tently the most lop­sided in foot­ball — and New Eng­land has dom­i­nated.

But not in the Florida sun­shine.

“We’ve tried a bunch of dif­fer­ent things over the years,” Brady said of prepa­ra­tion for this an­nual visit, which has also in­cluded prac­tic­ing in­doors with the heat cranked up. “We’ve gone down there Thurs­day night and prac­ticed Fri­day, gone down there Fri­day night af­ter prac­tice, stayed there Satur­day. It’s just re­ally about play­ing good when it comes down to it; there’s no magic for­mula.”

This week, the Patriots, who have won eight of their last nine games, have been work­ing in the New Eng­land cold af­ter beat­ing the Min­nesota Vik­ings 24-10 on a driz­zly day at Gil­lette Sta­dium.

“When you look at those stats, it is pretty in­ter­est­ing, the way some of those teams from the South come up and play, the teams from the North play in the South — there’s got to be some­thing to it,” Brady said. “It just comes down to play­ing good foot­ball. We’ve had some great games down there, too. Hope­fully this is a great game for us. But we have to go earn it.”

He fondly re­called the over­time long pass he threw to Troy Brown to win the 2003 game, end­ing New Eng­land’s five-game los­ing streak down there, re­mem­ber­ing the cel­e­bra­tion, and “flip­ping peo­ple off” on the bus leav­ing.

This week, they face a Mi­ami team that is 5-1 at home, 1-5 on the road, and one that will be with­out its best de­fender. NFL in­ter­cep­tions leader Xavien Howard, who picked Brady twice down there last year, is in­jured.

“I think just play­ing down there has its chal­lenges,” Brady said. “Ev­ery team kind of has its chal­lenges go­ing down there. They play well at home. I think they use the cli­mate as a ben­e­fit to them, just as we use ours as a ben­e­fit to us.”

Brady en­ters this game tied with Pey­ton Man­ning for the ca­reer lead with 579 ca­reer touch­down passes, count­ing play­offs. His 508 reg­u­lar-sea­son TD passes are tied with Brett Favre for third place.

A win Sun­day would also give New Eng­land its 16th straight 10-win sea­son. And then there’s the divi­sion ti­tle.

“That would be pretty sweet,” Brady said. “Ob­vi­ously try­ing to win the divi­sion is a great step. This would re­ally al­low us to do that; they’re go­ing to re­ally chal­lenge us. It’s go­ing to be a phys­i­cal game, they’ve been talk­ing about that. We’re pre­pared to just hav­ing the right mind­set to go down there and play a real great, com­ple­men­tary game.”

Elise Amendola / As­so­ci­ated Press

Patriots quar­ter­back Tom Brady warms up be­fore play­ing the Min­nesota Vik­ings in Foxborough, Mass., on Sun­day. Brady has won 12 of his last 13 starts within the divi­sion, but has yet to fig­ure out play­ing in Mi­ami.

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