New England Patriots fans had seen this script before. But Tom Brady wrote an unusually depressing ending.
With the Patriots needing a touchdown to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers late in the fourth quarter Sunday at Heinz Field, Brady quickly marched his team into the red zone -- only to throw four straight incompletions that sealed New England's 17-10 loss.
Following an offensive holding penalty on the first incompletion, Brady took three consecutive shots to the end zone from the Steelers' 21-yard line -- two to Rob Gronkowski and one to Julian Edelman -- that were all heavily defended.
So, why didn't Brady try to hit a checkdown target on one of those throws instead of chucking it deep three times in a row? The Patriots quarterback explained himself Monday morning during an interview on WEEI's "Mut & Callahan" radio show.
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"You're fighting a couple things at that point. You're fighting the clock," Brady responded. "It's hard to throw the ball in the field of play, because you're not sure if you're going to get another play off.
"Even though we may have gotten maybe a first down, we didn't have enough time. So, they kind of sensed the goal line, and I was just telling guys, 'Try to find a place for me to get the ball.'
" ... It's a tough play any way you cut it. They had a lot of guys looking at the ball and your guys are trying to run vertical. They played it well."
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To Brady's point, New England didn't have any timeouts remaining and had just 33 seconds to work with on its final three plays, which would have made it challenging to complete a pass inbounds, run up to the line and spike the ball.
As WEEI.com's Ryan Hannable points out, though, Brady probably could have pulled it off on third down to make fourth down more manageable.
One issue in final seconds for Patriots was it seemed Brady was so focused on throwing into end zone. On third down he could have checked down to James White, who could have got yards while getting out of bounds, making fourth-down play easier pic.twitter.com/k5BRiGiTkT — Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) December 17, 2018
But the 41-year-old quarterback wasn't interested in second-guessing, again crediting the Steelers' defense for putting New England in a tough spot.
"Again, at the time we were fighting the clock because any completion in bounds you're scrambling to run plays," Brady said. "We threw the ball out of the back of the end zone. It was a tough situation and it takes a big-time play to get out of that, and again I think they played it pretty well."
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