FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady arrived at the podium for his usual Wednesday news conference unaware that he had just been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second straight game.
“I didn’t know that,” he said.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, considering the New England Patriots’ quarterback has passed for nearly 1,000 yards through just eight quarters this season.
The next test to his hot start comes from an unlikely source, the Buffalo Bills. The perennial AFC East basement dwellers have dropped 15 straight games to the Patriots, but have looked impressive in getting off to their own 2-0 start.
“We’ve had a lot of good years here and ultimately it comes down to winning games, and that’s the best part about it is we’re 2-0,” said Brady, showing the same deft touch in dodging questions about of his torrid start. “I think this week is going to be a huge challenge for us. We’re going up against a team that’s also 2-0, that’s scored a ton of points, that’s been pretty tough on op posing offenses at their own home stadium. We’ve got our work cut out for us, we really do.”
The Buffalo defense does, too.
Brady is off to the best start of his career, which is saying a lot considering the three-time Super Bowl champion has a trio of 4,000-yard seasons and owns the NFL single-season record for touchdown passes with 50, set during New England’s record-setting 2007 campaign.
Yet even that year’s start pales in comparison to the season Brady has scripted so far.
The reigning league MVP has completed 71.6 percent of his passes for an eye-popping 940 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception in leading the Patriots to their first 2-0 start since 2008, when Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first quarter of the season.
He followed his fabulous four-touchdown, 517-yard performance— the fifth best total in NFL history — in a season-opening victory over Miami with another 423 yards in a 35-21 win over San Diego on Sunday.
“It’s Tom Brady,” said running back Danny Woodhead, “and I think he approaches every day the same.”
Brady is now trying to guide New England to its first 3-0 record since that historic 2007 season, when he threw for 576 yards, six touchdowns and one interception through the first two games en route to the first 16-0 regular season in league history.
In fact, Brady has dwarfed his previous best two-game start of 594 yards, set in 2009.
As usual, he insists it was just another day at the office.
“There’s different ways to win games. I think we’ve had opportunities to be able to throw the ball. Last year against Buffalo we ran it pretty good both games,” he said. “When my number’s called upon, I try to execute. When a running back’s number’s called upon, they try to execute. Your offensive line always has to execute.
“Offense is about everybody really being on the same page. That’s where we’re trying to be.”
Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey thinks New England may already be there.
“It looks like it doesn’t matter who they plug in where, they do a great job,” Gailey said on a conference call. “Everybody’s on the same page. That’s almost the highest compliment you can give to an offense is when everybody’s on the same page.
“And obviously it has a lot to do with Tom and the way he runs the offense,” he added. “He’s a great quarterback, when you look at physical talent, but he’s even better when you see the way he manages the game and controls the tempo and does all the little things to help his team be successful.”
Between veteran receivers Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Chad Ochocinco, and second-year tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez — who is sidelined one to two weeks with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee — Brady boasts an arsenal of aerial targets who enable him to attack the defense differently on every play.
“It’s a collective effort,” Brady said. “The better that Wes Welker does, the better it is for Chad (Ochocinco) and Deion (Branch) and for Rob (Gronkowski) and Aaron (Hernandez). And the better that Rob does, the better it is for all those other guys. The better the running game, the better it is for play-action pass.
“Everything feeds off one another. It’s not one guy doing it.”
But through two weeks, it’s been Brady who’s been putting on the show.
“Tom’s a professional every day he’s out there,” receiver Julian Edelman said. “Glad he’s on our team.”