Transcript of Tom Brady on D&C: ‘It’s really been a special season’
|01.23.12 at 10:06 am ET|
Tom Brady struggled in Sunday’s AFC championship game, but he did manage to score the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Patriots edged the Ravens, 23-20, and advanced to the Super Bowl. During his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, Brady talked about the Patriots’ good fortune Sunday, as the Ravens missed two scoring opportunities in the final minute.
“Honestly, I don’t think you get to this point in the season without a certain degree of luck,” he said. “We’ve been in a lot of tough games all year. Some balls have bounced our way. You see the same thing from the Giants. They barely got into the postseason, and now look at them. They’re playing their best football. It’s just the way it is. Five, six weeks ago everyone was talking about really two teams, the Packers and the Saints. It was really just a commitment by a lot of guys to be more mentally tough than their opponents.
“To win 10 straight like we have, they certainly haven’t all been pretty. The offense has played really well at times. The defense certainly has played really well at times. Special teams, we got huge plays from special teams. It’s really been a special season. Now we just have to finish it the way we all want to.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Congratulations, you’re headed back for the fifth time. I guess it doesn’t get old, does it?
Never. It sure doesn’t. It’s tough to get to this point. There’s 32 teams that are battling, and everyone’s got a shot at the beginning of the year. To be one of the last teams standing is pretty special for all of us.
It seems to me that the five or six or seven days of analysis and buildup, and columnists and bloggers and talk show hosts saying this is what’s probably going to happen and this is how it’s going to play out, all of use were virtually wrong. Did anybody think the Patriots were going to win a game where you score eight points below your season average, Baltimore possessed the ball for seven more minutes than you did, the Patriots defense couldn’t get off the field on third down nine separate times, [Joe] Flacco had a better day than you did — I think you even admitted that — and the New England defense would be required to bail you guys out. Nobody saw any of this coming.
No one did, but that’s why we play the game. No one ever knows going into these games.
Do you know what Baltimore specifically did to have you have an off day, or was that on your own?
The interceptions hurt. It’s hard to be productive on offense when you turn the ball over. You go into these games with a plan, with a game plan. They’re a very good defense. There are four Hall of Famers on that defense. Every yard, we had to earn. I was driving home yesterday and I said, God, there’s some games where you feel like, man, guys are open, bam, you’re hitting them. You’re moving the ball down the field and you’re getting the ball in the end zone, kind of like we did against Denver. And there’s other weeks where you’re battling for every half a yard. You look at that goal-line situation we had where it’s second and a half-yard. You sneak and you think you’re in. Then we hand it off on third and you think you’re in. Then we got the sneak on fourth down. That’s the way it was all day. That’s why the Ravens are as good as they are, because they consistently play well on defense.
I thought we really did move the ball well at times. We didn’t do a great job in the red area. And I wish I wouldn’t have had the interceptions. But other than that, I thought we did a pretty good job out there. We could have scored more points, but that’s every week for us. But it’s great to win the game.
When [Billy] Cundiiff’s kick goes wide left, who or what is your first thought?
I couldn’t believe it. You sit on the sideline and you’re wracking your brain, how you’re going to pull this game out. They hit that long play to [Anquan] Boldin and you thought, “Oh, man.” Then they got to the 11-yard line with plenty of time left, and I though, “Oh, I hope they don’t score here.” Our defense, Sterling [Moore] made a couple of huge plays there, unbelievable plays. Then they come out for the kick and you’re kind of getting ready for, “All right, what are we going to do in overtime?” You look up and the ball doesn’t go in. I looked at Billy [O’Brien], and Billy ran over to me. We gave each other a hug. It was a pretty cool feeling. It was a very special night. We’ll never forget that game.
Do you feel lucky? Do you feel like this team is blessed, is a team of destiny?
Honestly, I don’t think you get to this point in the season without a certain degree of luck. We’ve been in a lot of tough games all year. Some balls have bounced our way. You see the same thing from the Giants. They barely got into the postseason, and now look at them. They’re playing their best football. It’s just the way it is. Five, six weeks ago everyone was talking about really two teams, the Packers and the Saints. It was really just a commitment by a lot of guys to be more mentally tough than their opponents.
To win 10 straight like we have, they certainly haven’t all been pretty. The offense has played really well at times. The defense certainly has played really well at times. Special teams, we got huge plays from special teams. It’s really been a special season. Now we just have to finish it the way we all want to.
I can only assume you have that nagging, morning backache after the leap into the end zone. I don’t think you’re supposed to bend that way, and then Ray [Lewis] gave you a shot as well.
I’m feeling that one today. Hopefully, it goes away here in the next 48 hours, before we start practice on Wednesday. It feels a lot better when you win, I’ll tell you that. Even though I didn’t sleep a whole lot last night, I’m feeling pretty damn good this morning.
What makes a good quarterback sneaker?
You’re just trying to go where they’re not. You’re looking for any little hole. The offensive line did a good job. We were really all on the same page where I was trying to go. That was really important. Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata and [Terrence] Cody and Jarret Johnson — I swear to God, every half-yard yesterday felt like it was having teeth pulled. I think so much is the way we start the game. To go three-and-out there in the first series and then to have some opportunities to scorer there on the second series and only kick a field goal, those are things, you want to get off to a good start and set the tone for the whole day. If you don’t, which we didn’t, you’ve still got to continue to fight. Our guys fought to the very end.
Were you surprised when they told you to take a knee with a minute left in the half?
That was coach’s decision. We do whatever we’re told, that’s what we do. It’s not like we were playing particularly well on offense. They had some timeouts left. I think we were just regrouping and getting ready for the second half.
I know you’ll say that Super Bowl XLII from four years ago doesn’t matter. But does the November 6 game when they came into New England and beat you guys, does that matter? Does that affect the plan as you go ahead and get ready for the Super Bowl?
We’ll certainly look at that game, several times. You see matchups. You see how your guys match up against their guys — route-running and blocking and so forth. It will have absolutely zero impact on the game, but at the same time, hopefully we can learn some lessons from that game.
We really lost the turnover battle in that game, which really hurt us. It was a great game. Eli [Manning] drove the team down and they scored with just a few seconds left. It was a great game. it sets up for a great rematch between two teams who have earned the right to represent their conferences in the Super Bowl.
It’s a great feeling for all of us players. Not that I’ve ever taken for granted being there, because I certainly haven’t, but you really realize how hard it is to get there. Even when you have great teams, like a lot of the teams this year, whether it’s Baltimore or Green Bay or the Saints or San Francisco. Everyone’s had great seasons, but there’s only two teams that get to play in this game.
The only other thing that surprised me more than the offense taking a knee at the end of the first half was the aggressive bomb to [Matthew] Slater right after [Brandon] Spikes‘ interception. Did it not seem more prudent to put together an efficient, time-consuming, six-minute drive because there was like seven minutes left in the game as opposed to going for that? Or did somebody see something that told you that was going to be open?
You know, we hadn’t really taken any shots, so I thought we were trying to get them to kind of fall asleep on a play. Matt was running hard and [Bernard] Pollard got his hand on it and Jimmy Smith made a great interception. We learned from it. I certainly wish I didn’t throw that interception, that was probably the play that kept me up all night last night, but our defense really saved the day for us. Even though the offense doesn’t play great, it was great for us to look out on the field and really see the defense playing their butts off for the entire game and really getting us a very hard-fought win.
Specifically to Vince [Wilfork], in all your years in this game, have you seen a defensive lineman have that kind of dominating performance?
He’s a phenomenal player. His agility, his quickness, his power, his toughness — any great adjective you want to describe Vince, you can. He’s a great teammate, he’s a great leader, a captain. The whole team rallies around him. He’s done an incredible job, not only yesterday, but all season. Everyone relies on him for that leadership and he certainly provides it, he brings it every week. It’s great to have him out there.
Immediately after the game, we heard a number of people say that because you had an off day yesterday, you’ll be more determined than ever to go out there and just have a great Super Bowl. Could you be more determined to have a great Super Bowl than you would have been otherwise? Is there any extra motivation needed when you take the field at the Super Bowl?
There’s plenty of motivation there. Just as the Denver game had no impact on yesterday’s game, this game will have no impact on the game two weeks from now. I’m going to work as hard as I can these next two weeks to be prepared and to hopefully go out there and play the best game I’ve ever played. That’s what I’m expecting, that’s what I expect to do. I know that’s what my teammates expect from me.
We’re going to work our butts off.
Coach said last week, ‘Put your blinders on and just focus on the target,’ and our target is two weeks from yesterday. All of our energy and attention is going to be focused on what we need to do to win this game. It’s going to be a hard-fought game, we’re going to have to earn it, it’s going to be a 60-minute game and the team that plays the best is going to win.
If any of the rookies, if Sterling Moore asked you, ‘What’s the most important thing, Tom, I need to know as we get ready to head to Indianapolis?’ what would you tell him?
That’s a great question. At the end of the day, it’s a football game. We just have to be prepared to play. There’s a lot of other distractions that can get in the way, there’s a lot of requests from a lot of people that already start coming in, but at the same time, our job is to get ready to play the game. Believe me, if you lose this game, there’s an awful feeling in your stomach for a lot of years, so you want to do everything you can to be ready and prepared to play and not let anything get in the way of our finest performance.
Do you still have an awful feeling in your stomach from ‘07?
I still can’t watch highlights of that game, I think that’s just the way it is. You get to the end, and we had a great opportunity there and really squandered it because we didn’t play our very best. You realize in this game that you’re playing the best competition in the league [and] everything is on the table. It’s a great chance to be here and this team has deserved it — it’s a special group of guys. Like I said, there’s great camaraderie in the locker room, everyone is there for each other, there’s great support. Now we’ve just got to go out there and win one more game.
Can you articulate what the Ravens and 49ers are feeling this morning because they were so close, you could almost taste the Super Bowl, it’s snatched away from them, the season is over immediately, very quickly, and you’re also faced with lining up all the things in your mind that went well and went right for that team to get to this spot, and never make it to Indianapolis?
We’ve done that a few years also, whether it was in ‘07 or ‘08 and 2010, those seasons, they’re tough. Coach always says, ‘You’re on a treadmill and it’s on about a 12 mile-per-hour sprint, and then all of a sudden, you hit the stop button.’ That’s how it’s going to feel in two weeks for us. There is such a sense of urgency every day of these past six months, every day of the football season, to be prepared, either get ahead or catch up on an opponent or even during the bye week, you’re trying to get ahead on the opponent.
A lot of guys have really committed themselves. It’s been pedal-to-the-metal for five months now. There’s light at the end of the tunnel for all of us ‘ there’s one game to play and it means everything. I can’t wait, I’m excited. I really enjoyed yesterday’s win. Like I said, I wish I would have done a better job yesterday, but I’m thrilled to be a part of this game and to be a part of this team and to lead our team on the field in Indy.
Can you compare the Giants defense to the Ravens defense? Is it trickier? Do they disguise things more? Is it more straightforward? How are they alike and how are they different?
It’s a little bit different. They’re two totally different defenses. The Giants have a very good defense, they’ve got guys that can cover one of the best pass rushes that you’ll face in a league, very physical linebackers, they tackle well. It’s a very good defense. We didn’t score a lot of points against them last time. Like I said, the turnovers hurt us last time — I think we had four turnovers last game. You’re not going to beat the Giants turning the ball over four times. We escaped the last few weeks turning the ball over. It’s one stat in the game, losing the turnover battle pretty much correlates to losing a whole bunch of times and we’re gotten away with it for two weeks.
Is the spirituality that Robert Kraft has referenced a couple of times during the course of the season, unified, respect and admiration for Myra Kraft, playing any kind of role in this team’s success and this team’s ability to galvanize as one?
She’s with us every step of the way. We wear those patches on the jersey. The painting that was commissioned by our team as a present to Mr. Kraft sits in the locker room on game day, so I’m sure it will be there on Super Bowl Sunday, too. It’s a reminder for us of what a special season this is for our team and his family and all the people who loved Mrs. Kraft so much. There’s plenty of spirituality in our locker room and it’s a great reflection for all of us to have that patch on our jersey. Hopefully we can go out there and represent her well.
What did you say to Ray Lewis when you had a little words? What did he back to you and what did Suggs say because I’m sure he got a couple of yaps in there as well.
I don’t remember what I said. I’m sure I wouldn’t have wanted my mom to hear what I said, but I don’t quite remember.
Did either of them have a funny comeback for you?
No, we were both getting into it. It was pretty intense at that point in the game.
Are you one of those guys that just gets tickets for your immediate family, and everyone else you just pawn off on someone else and don’t let them get in your way and let the friends from high school distract you here?
You kind of go through the procedures, and I’ve been through it a few times. It’s hard because it’s not like there’s a Super Bowl ticket tree where you can just grab tickets. We only get a certain amount, and every player in the league and every coach in the league gets them. I try to get as many as I can and fulfill as many requests as possible. I wish I had 500 tickets to give to everybody, we just don’t get those.