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Brady's Ankle, Moss's Mind, Hardwick's Mouth, LT's Heart

I just watched some of the NFL Network Replay presentation of the Patriots-Chargers game. I hope to catch it and the Packers-Giants game again later this week. For now, here are few observations that I will try to review again when I'm able to catch these replays again.

Brady's Ankle

I think Tom Brady tweaked his ankle on that sack on 1st-and-10 from the Patriots 25 with 8:40 left in the game, but it wasn't the sack that caused it. It was right before the sack.

With Stephen Cooper pressuring, Brady moved to his left. It looks like he bend his right ankle as he sidestepped. He started to go to the ground before Cooper reached him, and it may have been to protect himself from taking a bigger hit and protecting that ankle. Brady stayed on the turf a few extra seconds before getting back to the huddle.

Brady looked a little ginger, but not exactly limping, on the next two passes to Kevin Faulk. It probably loosened up while the Patriots were still on the field, but after the on-field celebrations, Brady was hobbling slightly as it tightened.

Brady threw two more passes, both completions, before handing off to Laurence Maroney six times and then taking two knees.

Moss's Mind

I watched Moss running routes, and the difference in effort he put in on rushing plays run to the opposite side of the line was noticeable. But for pass plays and rushing plays to his side, he appeared to be going all out.

In fact, on Antonio Cromartie's interception in the middle of the end zone, Brady was apparently looking for Wes Welker before reading to the back of the end zone for Ben Watson. Moss, who was split wide, broke for the corner and then start coming from right to left on the end line may have been open for about a second. He certainly didn't dog it on that play, and the ball didn't go to him.

It looks to me that Brady lost track of Cromartie and he figured Watson was and would be open -- and he would have been, but for Cromartie -- and that was the higher-percentage play.

Hardwick's Mouth

I watched the line play as much as possible, especially on replays on which I wasn't watching Moss. When the Patriots were on defense, I kept an eye on Richard Seymour and Nick Hardwick -- at least as much as the network feed allowed.

Let me tell you, there was a lot of "extra-curricular activity" on both sides of the line on both offense and defense. I didn't see Seymour do anything you didn't see from both sides, nothing to don't see on a game-to-game basis from most teams. As a matter of fact, San Diego defensive end Luis Castillo had his hands up around Nick Kaczur's and Russ Hochstein's facemasks on quite a few plays. None called. Several could have been. Nothing out of the ordinary. No one's calling Castillo dirty.

ESPN on Monday replayed Hardwick's comments a couple dozen times, and they put together a Seymour-replay package, and outside of that little bump of Philip Rivers, Seymour did nothing out of the ordinary.

By the way: No Oscar for Rivers. Seymour bumped him no worse than the Steelers' James Harrison bumped Brady after one of the several touchdowns thrown against Anthony Smith. That wasn't called, and no one launched an expletive-laden locker-room tirade after that.

Anyway, I did see one of the headslaps Hardwick complained about. Of course, Hardwick and tackle Jerome Clary were double-teaming Seymour, and Hardwick had his left hand up around Seymour's throat. I'll try to note the game time next replay. (I really need to get a DVR next season).

Otherwise, the plays that I saw, Seymour played as hard as you'd expect a Pro Bowler to play.

Besides, the Chargers seem to have a problem with this 'dirty' thing.

LT's Heart

Rivers was hurt. He put himself at risk for his team. He is going to require more extensive surgery and a longer recovery for the effort he provided for his teammates for their chance to play in Super Bowl XLII, a chance that doesn't come along every year.

"... I think that's the gutsiest performance that I've ever been around," Chargers guard Mike Goff said.

"Philip Rivers is the most courageous teammate I've ever had, the most courageous guy I've ever seen," defensive end Luis Castillo said.

"It's the gutsiest performance that I've evern seen," LaDanian Tomlinson said.

"We have a lot of respect ..."

Wait a second. Rewind that.

"It's the gutsiest performance that I've evern seen," LaDanian Tomlinson said.

Much like last year, actions speak louder than post-game words. Right, LaDanian?

A Few More Notes

Laurence Maroney earned his 2nd career 100-yard playoff game Sunday. Back-to-back games, I'll have you know. The last Patriot with back-to-back 100-yard playoff games was Craig James (1985).

It was also Maroney's 5th straight game with a rushing touchdown.

The Patriots won their 18th straight game, tying 5 other teams for the second best streak all-time. The record belongs to the 2003-04 Patriots who won 21 straight.

Sunday marked the Patriots' 11th straight home playoff win.