By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
November 26, 2002

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FOXBORO, MA -- Two years ago on Thanksgiving Tom Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe as quarterback of the New England Patriots.

In a match-up that day against the Detroit Lions New England took a 9-6 lead into the 3rd quarter but later imploded, with Bledsoe throwing two fourth quarter interceptions, the last of which was returned 101-yards for a touchdown that put the Lions up 34-9.

Brady replaced Bledsoe after that play.

Bledsoe said after the game that when he came off the field Belichick had offered him support and told him, "Way to keep fighting, we're going to with Brady for a little while."

"I was planning on staying in. That was [Belichick's] call to put Tom in there, and that's the way it will be. I'll play until someone tells me differently."

No one could have predicted that Brady would be the starter for the Patriots nearly two years later. Bledsoe was sidelined in week two last season after suffering a sheared blood vessel in his chest in a collision with New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis, and Brady again replaced him, this time for the rest of the season. Bledsoe was praised for his support of Brady throughout last season as New England went on to win their first ever franchise championship in what was obviously a difficult situation. But when the team went on their four game losing streak earlier this year there were many who believed that Brady's struggles during that time may have been as a result of not having Bledsoe around anymore as a mentor.

According to offensive lineman Mike Compton that may have not been the case at all.

In fact, the Patriots guard told the media in Detroit via a conference call on Tuesday that it was Brady who was the one who was coaching Bledsoe when the two were in camp together at the start of last season.

"I knew he was pretty special when I got here last year in training camp," said Compton. "(Brady) was coaching Drew (Bledsoe) a little bit. Here was this guy who has been to the Pro Bowl and he can do amazing things with the ball and then here is this second year guy out of Michigan that no one has heard of who is coaching a key veteran. He reinforced it when Drew went down and he came in."

"Tom is a young guy who brings a lot of excitement and a lot of attitude to the offensive huddle. He tries to be a playmaker. Sometimes he takes chances and other times he plays within himself and executes. He is a real professional. He studies and knows his stuff."

Brady appears to be well respected among his teammates as well as the coaching staff as they must have felt he was the best guy to run their offense after sending Bledsoe to Buffalo in a trade during the offseason. Belichick told the Detroit media that he was impressed with the way that he approached the season and feels that so far Brady's had a good year.

"I think that Tom came into the year with a lot of confidence," said Belichick. "I think that Tom has taken a very mature approach to the season and he has worked hard and had a really productive off-season and he added a lot of games under his belt and continues to have comfort and success in our system and I think that he has had a good solid year."

Through 11 games Brady has tossed a league leading 24-touchdown passes, including three last weekend against the Vikings which was the fifth time this season he has thrown for three or more scoring passes.

Now he'll be looking to continue his success against a Detroit team that is reeling after deferring the ball in overtime and taking the wind, only to lose on a field goal into it by the Chicago Bears. In a league where coaches are always second-guessed, each decision is generally always one that could have gone either way.

Unfortunately for Detroit it didn't go their way on Sunday.

"I don't know," said Belichick when asked what he would have done. "We played in Chicago a couple of weeks before that and those conditions are significant. You have to take those things into consideration."

"I wouldn't want to say anything else about somebody else's decision. I have enough hard ones to make myself."

JONES QUESTIONABLE

Safety Tebucky Jones (Leg) remained on the team's injury report and is listed as "Questionable", while wide receiver David Givens was listed as "Probable" for the game. Victor Green filled in for Jones last weekend and combined for 8-tackles, defended a pass, and recovered a fumble in New England's 24-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings.


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