FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady hasn't completed more than 20 passes in five games. He's thrown for fewer than 175 yards each of the past two weeks and for three touchdowns just once this season on opening day.
But the New England Patriots are 11-1, so coach Bill Belichick isn't concerned about his quarterback's numbers.
``I'm concerned about winning,'' Belichick said Wednesday.
Now that Corey Dillon has arrived to balance the offense, Brady hasn't had to throw as much or amass impressive statistics for the team to be successful.
It is different,'' Brady said, butI think our record speaks for itself. When you are 11-1, we are doing the things to try to win. The idea of this game is to win and score more points. Whether you throw it or run it, being 11-1, I think we all feel pretty good about where we are at.''
The two-time Super Bowl MVP started the season by outplaying Peyton Manning in a 27-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Brady completed 26 of 38 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns, but hasn't thrown that many completions or for that many yards since.
His numbers in his last two games aren't impressive, although the circumstances weren't right for a big passing day.
In a 24-3 win over Baltimore, he went 15-for-30 for 172 yards without a touchdown or interception on a rainy day. In last Sunday's 42-15 win at Cleveland, there was no urgency to throw with a big lead.
Overall, he has done a pretty good job of managing the team and that is really what his job is _ manage the team and win games,'' Belichick said.The Baltimore game was a difficult situation in terms of weather, field conditions.
``When you win 42-15 or something like that and beat Baltimore 24-3, then I think he is doing a pretty good job of helping to manage it, along with a lot of other people.''
He's also won 26 of his last 27 games going into Sunday's home game against Cincinnati in Foxboro, where Brady and the Patriots have a 17-game winning streak, including the playoffs.
Brady is doing a good job of managing the clock, reading defenses and hitting closely guarded receivers. But the offseason trade that brought Dillon from Cincinnati improved the Patriots' mediocre running game and took some pressure off the quarterback.
``It seems every time we give it to him, there are positives things happening,'' Brady said.
His passes per game have dropped from 32.9 last season to 29.7 this season while the team's rushing plays have increased from 29.5 per game to 32.6. Brady's yards per completion have risen from 11.4 to 13.3.
He's erased suspicions that existed in his first season as a starter in 2001 that he couldn't throw deep and concentrated on short passes.
We treat those short passes like outside runs,'' offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said.Now Corey Dillon has provided both an inside and outside threat as a runner, which really takes (away) the need to throw all those short passes.''
That could hurt Brady's completion percentage because it's easier to be successful on a short pass than a long one. So he's just 12th in the NFL in passer rating and has completed 58.5 percent of his passes compared to 60.2 percent last season.
We relied on Tom a lot'' in past seasons, tight end Christian Fauria said. The addition of Dillonallows another guy to carry the load a little bit ... and, when called upon, Tom is just being Tom. Receivers are making plays, maybe not as frequently, but at the right time.''
In the third quarter against Indianapolis, with New England trailing 17-13, Brady threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to David Patten then followed it with an 8-yard scoring strike to Daniel Graham for a 27-17 lead that enabled the Patriots to win despite a late touchdown pass by Manning.
We can talk about quarterback stats all day. And then you talk about wins and sometimes they're correlated, but a lot of times they aren't,'' Belichick said.The important number for me is the score at the end of the game.''