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Tom Brady the magician: Game Rewind takeaways

Kenbrell Thompkins was a popular fellow after hauling in Sunday's game-winning touchdown strike from Tom Brady.

"After the game my phone was dead from text messages and everything," the New England rookie receiver said after knocking off the New Orleans Saints 30-27. "I kind of just went home and kind of just laid down and cleared my mind. I was fortunate and I was happy for this team most importantly."

"It's amazing, man," said fellow rookie Aaron Dobson. "Just to see (Brady) do it like that -- it's crazy to be on the field and be a part of that."

It's easy to forget, just one year ago, these two were watching Brady on TV. Now they're catching his passes.

The Patriots quarterback hasn't been perfect this season -- there's plenty of proof -- but he's still an assassin with the game on the line.

Let's take a look:

Brady the magician


This comeback doesn't happen without New England's defense tightening the screws in the fourth quarter.

Trailing by one point with 2:46 left in the game, New England held New Orleans to a field goal on a drive that drained just 22 seconds off the clock. The Saints mysteriously were cautious with their play selection, but give the Patriots credit. They held the line of scrimmage and dialed in two masterfully placed timeouts to get the ball back with 2:24 remaining.

No play was bigger on that series than cornerback Alfonzo Dennard's sensational pass coverage of Marques Colston:

On New England's next possession, Brady tossed an ugly pick, but New England's defense bailed him out with a gutsy three-and-out highlighted by Chandler Jones dropping the hammer on Drew Brees:

The Patriots got the ball back with 1:13 left on the clock. On the game-winning drive, one early pass caught my attention. With 39 seconds left, Brady engineered a lightning-quick strike to Dobson, who burrowed his way out of bounds. The timing between the two was impeccable:

Brady then underthrew Julian Edelman on a pass that -- with more juice -- would have ended the game. Twitter nerds buzzed with premature missives asking why Tom isn't picked apart like Tony Romo when his comeback attempts crumble. But then Brady did this:

(As I type this, a shadowy league figure is tapping me on the shoulder as a reminder to tell you that Patriots-Saints can be viewed for free this week on Game Rewind by clicking here.)

Best defense in football?


We asked on the "Around the League Podcast" if the Chiefs own the league's best defense. It's not a crazy thought after what we saw in Sunday's 24-7 win over the Oakland Raiders.

Oakland's offensive line isn't playing with a full deck, but 10 sacks of Terrelle Pryor was the result of Kansas City's dominance at the line of scrimmage. The problem for opponents starts right up the gut with nose tackle Dontari Poe. Multiple blockers are required to slow him down, creating opportunities for a wily cast of edge rushers.

Raiders right tackle Matt McCants shouldn't have left his hotel room. He's no match for Tamba Hali, who cycles around the pocket to mow down Pryor:

It's not just Kansas City's front seven. Coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey aggressively combed for gems all summer, stocking the roster with players set free by other teams. No less than seven of those free-agent pickups have made an impact this season.

My favorite of the bunch is rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper. He registered a key pick in last week's win over the Titans, and his fourth-quarter interception of Pryor sealed Kansas City's sixth win:

All-22 Notebook


1. One big question coming into this season was how defenses would adjust to the read option. The Carolina Panthers had an outstanding day on offense against the Minnesota Vikings, but one play illustrated what we're seeing league-wide. Defenders are making better decisions at the mesh point. Vikings pass rusher Everson Griffen doesn't bite on the play below, correctly locking onto Newton for the loss:

2. So how did little-known Joseph Fauria wind up scoring three touchdowns against a pretty good Cleveland Browns defense? It helps that he's 6-foot-7 and posting up one-on-one with a safety, Johnson Bademosi, who's seven inches shorter and 55 pounds lighter. Simple math, people:

3. By now you've heard about Keenan Allen. The rookie receiver for the San Diego Chargers who posted his second straight 100-yard game on Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts and looks like a third-round steal for San Diego. His well-documented knee problems kept teams at a distance, but Allen is blooming into a No. 1 target for Philip Rivers.

He's a tough, hard-running target with good body control and reliable hands. Allen finds the ball in tight spaces and shows an ability to run through double coverage, as he did on this 22-yard touchdown strike from Rivers:

4. The biggest surprise for the Cardinals has been rookie running back Andre Ellington. Nobody on Arizona's offense graded higher against the San Francisco 49ers, according to Pro Football Focus, and his snap count is steadily climbing. He's tough to defend because his presence on the field doesn't dictate the play call. He's a dangerous runner, but he's just as crafty catching the ball. Watch him carve up San Francisco:

Arizona grabbed Ellington in the sixth round of April's draft. Watching him juke the shoes off 49ers safety Eric Reid, I couldn't help but wonder: Isn't this what Tavon Austin is meant to be?

5. Baltimore's offensive line misses Matt Birk. Center Gino Gradkowski is learning on the job, a reality that led to a painful afternoon for Joe Flacco against the Packers. Gradkowski (No. 66) waddles like a penguin in reverse as Green Bay's A.J. Hawk (No. 50) blasts by for this first-quarter sack:

Hawk finished with three sacks on the day, but it's not just Gino. Watch that play again. Rookie pass rusher Datone Jones (No. 95) sheds Ravens guard Marshal Yanda (No. 73) and rolls past tackle Michael Oher (No. 74), who might as well be reading a book of symbolist poetry in a foreign meadow -- because he wasn't in Baltimore on that play.

Special thanks to the multitalented Jonathan Smyth of NFL Films for cutting the All-22. Find me on Twitter at @MarcSesslerNFL if there's a player, team or concept you'd like us to focus on next time around.

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