FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady will miss the entire season with a left knee injury that needs surgery, leaving the New England Patriots without one of the game's great quarterbacks and severely damaging their hopes of a return trip to the Super Bowl.
The 2007 NFL Most Valuable Player will be placed on injured reserve, the Patriots said Monday, one day after Brady's knee collapsed under him when he was hit by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard in the first quarter of a 17-10 victory over Kansas City.
"As a team we all just have to do our jobs. That really doesn't change," New England coach Bill Belichick said. "He played one position, he played it very well. We have somebody else playing that position now."
A one-paragraph statement issued by the team confirmed that the two-time Super Bowl MVP will have surgery, ending a 128-game starting streak that is the third longest for a quarterback in league history. Belichick would not say what the injury is, but the play, Brady's reaction and the prognosis all point toward a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Matt Cassel, who guided New England to its 20th consecutive regular-season victory after Brady was hurt, will start Sunday at the New York Jets. It will be the first meaningful start since high school for Cassel, who backed up Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at Southern California and spent the past three years holding a clipboard for Brady.
"I'm not trying to be Tom Brady. I'm just trying to be Matt Cassel," he said when subbing for Brady on his regular weekly radio show. "I don't know where that's going to take us."
Brady took the Patriots to three NFL titles since 2001 and led them to a perfect record in the regular season last year before a loss in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants deprived them of a fourth championship and an unprecedented 19-0 season. They had been favored to return -- before Brady's injury.
"We're not going to tank it the rest of the season. That's not going to happen," defensive lineman Richard Seymour said in a somber and nearly empty Patriots locker room across from where Brady's locker remained stocked with equipment and personal items. "There's always a way to win. We're not going to have a lot of excuses about it."
Even without Brady, the Patriots remain a team stocked with veterans in a mediocre division with one of the most successful coaches in NFL history.
"The leadership on this team will take care of itself," offensive lineman Matt Light said. "I expect [Cassel] to do his job, and that's the same thing he expects from each one of us. There's nobody on this team that we don't have confidence in. You can't have a better mentor than Tom Brady."
The Patriots have just two quarterbacks on the roster: Cassel and rookie Kevin O'Connell. Matt Gutierrez, who signed as an undrafted free agent before the 2007 season and has thrown one career pass, was released in the final cut-downs before the season.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Sunday the team was set to bring in quarterback Chris Simms on Monday for a workout. Journeyman Tim Rattay was also to be considered, Mortensen reported.
Belichick, who runs one of the most secretive operations in the league, initially denied the team reached out to any other quarterbacks, but sources told Mortensen on Monday that Simms and Rattay were indeed in Foxborough.
They were scheduled to work out, but when they arrived at the Patriots' facility, vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli told them that "circumstances have changed" and sent them back to the airport.
So for now, Cassel is Belichick's quarterback.