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It’s a not a stretch to say the impact of the hit is still being felt in the NFL today, even 15 years later, and Tom Brady, who witnessed it, remembers being stunned by both its violence and the unforgettable sound of the collision. Ever since New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis crashed into Drew
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Bledsoe: I didn’t really see Lewis, because all I saw was the first-down marker. It was third down and while I was running toward the sideline, I couldn’t just go out of bounds short of the first-down marker — not in that situation, late in the game. So I tried to cut back inside and see if I could get the first down, and when I did that, I gave up my body to take the hit.
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“People forget that after I got hit, I went back in the game the next series. And the reason why I came out of the game after that series was because I had a concussion, as well, and I didn’t know which way was right and which way was left, and didn’t know my two-minute plays, which we had run for two years. I didn’t know I was seriously hurt until after the game.
Brady: I remember seeing the hit, but I don’t remember much just after it. Like I said, Drew was so tough, and it was hard to really understand what was happening at that point.
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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick later said he regretted allowing Bledsoe to re-enter the game after the hit by Lewis, because he quickly saw that his ninth-year veteran quarterback wasn’t right and in the parlance of football “had had his bell rung.” So by the time Brady entered for the first pressurized appearance of his nascent two-year NFL career, only 2:16 remained in the fourth quarter, with New England in possession at its 26 and still trailing by seven. Brady drove the team to three first downs, completing a 21-yard pass to David Patten for the long gain. From the Jets’ 29, his final two desperation passes were in the vicinity of the end zone, but went incomplete, and no wholesale jerseys comeback would be forthcoming against the Patriots’ bitter division rival. Brady couldn’t have known at the time, but the arc of his career had just been dramatically altered.
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Brady: Everything happened so fast and I think I was just reacting to the moment. I felt prepared, and really it felt like football. Like something I had done many times before. I was bummed we lost, because we had some chances at the end. But it wasn’t until mid-week when we knew the extent of what Drew was dealing with. Again, I was just taking things as they came, and I tried to make the best of the situation, as it was tough for everybody, with somebody I respected so much, like I did Drew.
Bledsoe didn’t know anything other than he felt a bit dazed and groggy from the hit. Initially he just wanted to head to the locker room after the game and then go home. But the seriousness of his situation quickly presented itself.
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Bledsoe: After the game, I was headed into the locker room with Ron O’Neil, our trainer, and he said “Why don’t you come with me, Bub.” He called everybody “Bub.” And I said, “No, I’m going to go in for team prayer, and then I’ll come see you.” And he goes, “Nah, I think you need to come with me, now.” So we went in and Bert Zarins, our team doctor is there. He said the thing that really tipped him off that something was really wrong is that normally when you have a concussion, your heart rate starts to slow down pretty quickly. And instead of my heart rate slowing down, mine started to climb pretty dramatically. So that’s when he knew we were dealing with something that was more serious.
So they put me in the ambulance and I really don’t remember much of that drive in. But my brother, Adam, got in the ambulance with me, and they couldn’t give me anything for pain because I’m allergic to morphine.cheap nfl jerseys
I don’t remember this, but my brother said as we were driving and were just approaching the outskirts of Boston, I just went lights out. I just passed out, just from lack of blood. And he thinks I’m dying and he’s screaming at the ambulance drivers to get there, get there, and the next thing I know, I wake up in the hospital, with a tube in my chest that was pumping blood out of my chest, and another tube putting it back in.
“I don’t think I really knew how serious everything was for a couple days afterward, but yeah, if our trainer hadn’t intervened — because I just wanted to go home — and if our team doctor hadn’t sent me to the hospital, things could have been really different.
Things were really different for the Patriots going forward after Bledsoe’s frightful injury. Brady made his first career start in Week 3, a 44-13 demolition of Peyton Manning and the Colts at home, and the rest is history. New England went 11-3 with Brady at the helm for the remainder of the regular season, won the infamous “Tuck Rule” game against the visiting Raiders in the snow in the divisional-round playoffs, then upset the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game, thanks in large part to Bledsoe’s superb second-half relief job in place of the injured Brady. It was a small consolation to Bledsoe, the displaced starter, who was back on the bench on Super Bowl Sunday in New Orleans, when the Patriots and Brady stunned the heavily favored Rams 20-17 to win the first of New England’s four Lombardi Trophies.