The bye week will come in handy for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who could use the rest after Miami defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh landed on his right ankle in Sunday's game.
Brady threw only 21 passes for a season-low 134 yards in the 20-10 loss to the Dolphins - the Patriots' fourth loss in their past six games. The reigning Super Bowl MVP was sacked two times and hit a half-dozen more, including a late shot from Olivier Vernon and the hit from Suh that left Brady limping.
''I've had worse. I've had plenty of worse injuries than this one,'' said Brady, who has had only one injury in his career that forced him to miss time - a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 of 2008.
''Suh's a big guy. He just came down on the back of me and ... 300 pounds, he just collapses the back of your leg, there's going to be some residual damage from that.''
Brady said on his weekly radio appearance that he would be receiving treatment, ''as always.''
After winning the first 10 games to spur talk of a second undefeated season, the mounting injuries have taken their toll on the defending NFL champions. The Patriots finished 12-4 - good enough for their 12th AFC East title in 13 years and their sixth straight first-round postseason bye, but one victory short of clinching home-field advantage through the playoffs.
''Our level of consistency hasn't really been up to the standards that we need it to be,'' Brady said. ''This time of year is about how you play, not who you play or where you play or any of that. It's how you play. Hopefully we've learned some lessons over the past couple of weeks, and we can play more Patriot-like football.''
Brady was held without a touchdown pass for the first time this season. But more upsetting to the Patriots was the possibility that his injury could affect him when they return to play Cincinnati, Houston or Kansas City on Jan. 16.
Brady was in the pocket early in the second quarter when Suh came around from his right. Offensive lineman Marcus Cannon grabbed Suh at the top of the helmet and yanked him to the ground; the defensive lineman came down on the back of Brady's legs.
Brady limped off when the field goal unit came on, and the Patriots medical staff looked at his ankle. But the four-time Super Bowl champion remained in the game until another sack with five minutes left - and New England trailing by 10 - prompted coach Bill Belichick to go with backup Jimmy Garoppolo the rest of the way.
''He just came over to me and said, `Jimmy's going to go in.' I just said `OK,'' Brady said. ''I always want to be in there fighting with my teammates. We'll be ready to go two weeks for now. I think that's the most important task for me.''
Brady isn't the only Patriots player nursing an injury.
Receiver Julian Edelman hasn't played since Week 10 because of a broken foot. Offensive lineman Sebastien Vollmer missed the finale with an ankle injury. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower played in 12 games because of a knee injury.
And that's not to mention the players who have been lost for the season, including running backs LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis and enough offensive linemen to put Brady in jeopardy every time he dr0ps back for a pass.
''A lot of guys are banged up,'' Brady said. ''So it's just part of football season.''
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