NFL: New England Patriots at Houston Texans

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been dealing with an elbow injury and the numbers show it.

WHEN YOU’VE spent your entire career setting records and battling for and winning Super Bowls, even a hint of failure — especially at age 42 — can be troublesome.

But even after yelling at his receivers and tossing his helmet at one point in last Sunday’s loss at Houston, Tom Brady has a better way of dealing with his frustration.



”Well, it’s kind of just where we’re at,” Brady said Friday. “So, we’ve added some players late, and guys are coming back from injury and so forth. I’ve said this before. Like every team in the league, there’s no excuses. It’s did you win or did you not? I mean, at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. So, we’re trying to score more points than them, and teams that are good in all three phases are tough to beat. And we want to be one of those teams.”

The once-potent offense has not adjusted well to life without Rob Gronkowski. And when you add in the comings and goings of Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown, plus injuries — and the result is the Pats are 14th in the league in offense and Brady is in the lower third of quarterbacks.

”I’ve played a lot of football, so in 20 years I’ve seen a lot,” says Brady.

The Pats come into Sunday’s game against the Chiefs as the No. 2 seed in the AFC, a spot many couldn’t have envisioned through an 8-0 start. But as the competition has stiffened, the offense has stalled and the defense, world beaters in the first eight games, has become average — particularly against the mobility of quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson.

Sunday, it’s Patrick Mahomes.

On the flip side, the Chiefs, third in the NFL in rushing defense, are just 25th in the league in defense, 17th against the pass. So if there’s a time Brady and the passing offense can get going, this could be it.

He’s sorry — again

Another week, another Antonio Brown update — this time in the form of an apology as he looks to get back on the field.

It ended with: “To the organizations that I offended, I offer my sincere apology to you and my hope is that you forgive me and help me move on from this minor setback. I look forward to competing and helping a team reach their goals.

The Twitter post was liked by Brady.

Remember, Brown still hasn’t been reinstated by the NFL.

While Brady let his receivers hear it last week, one of them, Philip Dorsett, says, “He is like a big brother to all of us.”

Oh, and Tom Brady Sr. to the Boston Herald on Brady Jr.: “You know, I don’t know. It’s hard for me to envision him playing somewhere else. He wants to play. But ultimately, it’s Bill (Belichick)’s decision. There’s just been insinuations here and there.

“This is really kind of between those two. They got to decide what they want. If Bill says he doesn’t want Tommy, and Tommy wants to play, well, Joe Montana went to Kansas City … just because Bill decides he wants to move on, that won’t dictate Tommy’s future,” he added. “I’m sure there are a few other teams in the league that would want him.”

By the way, the newest Sports Illustrated power rankings dropped the Pats to No. 4, behind the Ravens, 49ers and Seahawks.

Winter fun

With the hot stove starting to heat up — at a quicker pace than last year, the Red Sox hit San Diego’s winter meetins with the world wondering what they are going to do — especially in regard to the payroll and the dreaded luxury tax threshold.

We might not see a Mookie Betts resolution this week but that doesn’t mean the theories are slowing down, either.

The MLB Network’s Jim Bowden, breaking down what each team needs to do in the coming days, said the Red Sox should “Extend Mookie Betts to a 10-year, $370 million deal,” adding, “There is not going to be a Betts trade out there that’s going to tempt the Red Sox at this point. They’ve waited too long, and anyway, their best play all along has been to extend him long term and find other ways to reduce their payroll. Betts is their best player and will get more than both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado on the open market.”

Meanwhile, a report on the other day had the Mets set to go hot and heavy for Betts — even if they can get him for one year before free agency. Others have also suggested Flushing, N.Y., as Betts’ 2020 home.

Chris Sale tells the Naples Daily News: “We’re progressing really well. We’re about to start ramping up (throwing) now so everything has been great. I’m in a good spot.”

Sale donated a million bucks to Florida Gulf Coast University athletics.

Random stuff

Chiefs coach Andy Reid knows this road game is tougher than most, for several reasons. “Yeah, they’re good,” he says. “I mean, my relatives tell me that all the time. That’s where my family is from, so they remind me of that often. It’s a tough place to play — those minutemen, they wear those guns out. I get it. They’ve done a heck of a job, a great job.” …

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy hints that perhaps there is a bit of a Cup final hangover plaguing his team. After having to rally with three in the third to get a point Thursday, the coach said, “We’re not pushing as hard as we need to to get to our level. Is that because of where we are, is that because of last year, is that because we feel like we’re a good enough team we can flip a switch? Probably bits & pieces of all those things, I’m not going to deny it” …

Yankees GM Brian Cashman was doing a rappel down a building in Bridgeport, Conn., Friday when he could see a sign in one of the windows saying, “PLEASE SIGN GERRIT COLE.” …

Jigsaw puzzles are helping Gronk deal with his form of PTSD from football. “It just lowered my stress levels just the way, you know, I was feeling,” the big fella tells CBS This Morning. “I just, you know, (was) just always anxious, always going. And I just needed to finally find some downtime to just relax.”

The Celtics’ 9-0 start is their longest home winning streak to open a season since starting 12-0 in 2007-08. …

Odell Beckham Jr.‘s first year in Cleveland has been kind of a dud and he’s hinting it might be his only year in Cleveland, even though he’s under contract. Column pal Larry Rosoff says OBJ is coming to Foxborough and Brady will be throwing to him. …

I know I’m a bit tardy with this, but I can’t tell how happy I was to see Stephen F. Austin end Duke’s 150-game home winning streak against non-league opponents. …

A couple of stat maven Dick Lipe nuggets from the Celtics’ win Friday over Denver (see what I did there?): “Over the last 3 games, the opponents have shot only .392 overall and .245 from three when Semi Ojeleye has been on the court. On the other hand, when he hasn’t been in the game, the percentages are .484 overall and .333 from three. His plus-minus over that stretch is +48, second only to Jayson Tatum’s +56; and Friday night marked the sixth time this season that both Tatum and Brown have scored at least 20 points. All six have been Celtic wins.”

The Bruins took the ice Saturday night against the Avalanche, and the last Boston team with a loss in regulation at home was still your Red Sox, on Sept. 28. …

Gordon Hayward says he’s ready to get back to practice and there’s a chance you could see him on the court before Christmas. …

Manny Ramirez, whose troubles may well keep him out of Cooperstown, is now preaching to implore folks to a better way. “I’m growing. It takes time,” Ramirez said as he was honored by The Sports Museum in Boston. “It’s like playing baseball. If you want to be the best, you got to hit it every day. If you want to get to know God, you have to have a relationship with Him … I’m going into another Hall of Fame. If you read the Bible, the Bible says that your name is going to be written in the Book of Life. So it’s going to be more impressive than this. Remember, when you die, you can’t take this with you.” …

Jaylen Brown blew a kiss at former teammate Kelly Olynyk after hitting a shot against the Heat the other night. Asked if Olynyk saw it, Brown said, “I don’t know, but he felt it.” …

Class act of the week: after his farewell press conference, now-former Carolina coach Ron Rivera took to Twitter to add, “In my press conference I forgot to thank the #media for the way you treated me & my family these past 9 years. You might have been critical, but always fair & I respect you for doing your job well!”

Touching act of the week, from ESPN’s Darren Rovell: “LSU fan got a piece of Tiger Stadium sod yesterday when school gave away 3,300 squares of it. Took the pieces to father’s resting place and laid down the grass there.” …

Random stat: Viking Kirk Cousins, a pretty good QB, is 0-8 on Monday Night Football. …

The Rockets dropped a controversial double-OT decision at San Antonio this week with James Harden and Russell Westbrook going 18-for-68 from the field, 5-for-26 from 3-point range. However, one Harden “miss” was a dunk that went through the net and clearly went in before exiting and coming around again on the rim. The refs blew it and a remedy was still being discussed. There really isn’t one, because playing the final 7:50 of regulation would wipe out the Spurs’ unlikely comeback from a major deficit and force OT. The guess here is the protest will be denied, and shame on the Rockets for blowing the lead to a weaker team. …

Speaking of Harden, San Antonio’s DeMar DeRozen thinks the Rocket can join Wilt Chamberlain as the NBA’s only players with 100 points in a game. “I’m pretty sure if he put his mind to it, he could score 100,” DeRozen said. …

A knucklehead of the week honor goes to injured Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw. Already suspended through next season for gambling, Shaw reportedly bet against his own team in a second-half parlay — and LOST when the Buccaneers failed to cover. …

Finally, we give you Celtics coach Brad Stevens saying, “Our No. 1 objective was to be a team that Boston liked.”

News flash: It’s working.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.