FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Yes, Tom Brady felt the earthquake that shook Maine and New England Tuesday night.
And then he went to sleep.
Being a native Californian, living near the San Andreas Fault, earthquakes don’t rattle Brady as much as they might, say, you and me.
“The big one, ’89,” he said, referring to the 6.9 magnitude earthquake that rattled San Francisco during the 1989 World Series between the Giants and Oakland A’s. “How could you forget that one?”
A 4.0 earthquake? Way up in Maine?
“When did it happen?” he asked. “I was in bed.”
Nothing seems to faze the New England Patriots quarterback, neither earthquakes nor their current standing.
The Patriots are 3-3 as they enter Sunday’s game with the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. The Jets are 3-3 too. So are the Miami Dolphins. And the Buffalo Bills.
The AFC East is, well, a quagmire of average to below-average teams right now.
“It’s good news and bad news,” said Rex Ryan, head coach of the visiting Jets. “The good news is that you’re tied for first. The bad news is that you’re tied for last.”
But this is rare territory for the Patriots, who haven’t been at .500 this far into the season since 2005 (when they were actually 4-4 before a 6-2 run to end the season and win the division title). In fact, it’s only the second time since Brady took over as the starter that the Patriots have started the season 3-3. The other came in 2002, when New England went 9-7 and failed to make the playoffs.
New England’s three losses have been by a total of four points. Asked if that’s heartening to him, to know that the Patriots are that close to being 6-0, Brady said the NFL doesn’t allow such “What if?” thinking.
Fans can moan and wring their hands all they want after the games. Talk show hosts can question the team’s heart.
Players and coaches can only move on to the next game.
“It’s week to week,” Brady said. “It all depends on how well you play. I mean, it’s just that every week is going to be something different. So you can’t sit here and say, ‘We’re the greatest team ever’ or ‘We’re the worst team of all time’ or compare this year to last year.
“We’re 3-3. We haven’t earned a better record than that. We haven’t played well enough and consistently enough to be better than that, but I don’t think six games defines a season and I think that what will define our season is what we do over the course of the next 10 weeks.”
But this week’s game carries a little added incentive with the Jets coming to town. Even though the rhetoric has toned down in recent years, they remain one of the Patriots fiercest rivals.
“It’s a great rivalry and it’s a fun game for us players,” Brady said. “It always has meaning behind it. It’s never been a meaningless game, so this one will be no different than that.”
The winner will gain the edge in the AFC East, a division, said New York’s Ryan, that has been dominated by the Patriots.
“One of the things you try to accomplish, one of your objectives at the beginning of the year, is to win your division,” he said. “New England has had a stranglehold on this division for several years. The three years I’ve been head coach, they’ve won our division and, quite honestly, pretty handily.
“They’re the ones to beat. It goes through New England, without question. That’s the goal, not just of ours, but Buffalo and Miami too.”
The Patriots know this. And they know that no one outside of their locker room is feeling sorry for their 3-3 record.
“There are other teams that are in worse positions than we are,” Brady said. “And it’s not like we’ve played our best football and we’re 3-3 either. I think we haven’t played very well and that’s why we’re 3-3. So (we have) to focus on playing better and executing better, hopefully the results will take care of themselves.”