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When it comes to second chances this season, Tom Brady aims to continue run of success vs. Giants

02.01.12 at 4:53 pm ET
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Tom Brady will be playing in his fifth Super Bowl Sunday. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday will mark the second time this season the Patriots have met the Giants. New England has won all four of its “second meetings” this season, having knocked off Miami, Buffalo, the New York Jets and Denver.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has had good outings when facing a defense for the second time in the 2011 season. In those four games, Brady went a combined 102-for-154 for 334 yards, 13 touchdowns and two interceptions. That averages out to a pretty respectable performance — 26-for-39 for 334 yards with three touchdowns and 0.5 picks.

The first time around against the Giants, Brady went 28-for-49 for 342 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions in a Nov. 6 loss to New York at Gillette Stadium.

Making improvements between a first and second meeting are a point of pride for Brady and the Patriots.

“Over the course of the season, whether it was from one Denver game to the second Denver game, or the first game of the year to the last game of the year, we’ve always tried to make improvement,” Brady said Wednesday when asked about making improvements when playing a team for a second time in a season.

“Maybe early in the year you try out some combinations of players and plays and so forth, and then you realize that they don’t work so you don’t use them anymore and you go to the stuff that does work and you try to do those things more consistently. I think that’s where we’re at the point now. We’re doing the things that we do a decent job of and we just try to improve those things so we’re at our best for this particular game.”

One way that Brady wouldn’t be able to replicate those numbers is if the Giants are able to get after him in a consistent basis. The New York defenders have dropped hints about being able to rattle Brady by being around his legs and making sure he doesn’t get too comfortable in the pocket, but the quarterback didn’t sound too fazed by the prospect when he was asked about it on Wednesday.

“You hear that every week from teams that you play that they want to get to the quarterback and hit the quarterback,” Brady said. “That’s just what defensive football is all about. It wouldn’t be the Super Bowl if they weren’t talking about coming to knock me down and trying to knock me out.

“[The Giants have] a very good pass rush. I’ve seen it game after game this year. They can get to the quarterback. They can hit the quarterback. They can force the quarterback into some bad decisions and some bad throws. We’re going to try to eliminate those. We really can’t afford too many of those on Sunday. We had too many of those the last time we played them, and we’re not going to be able to win the game making mistakes.”

In the wake of the AFC championship game, he apologized for his performance, saying he “sucked.” (He was apologetic for the remark on Wednesday, noting that he “didn’t want to take away from what the team had accomplished.”) Brady dropped another s-bomb on Wednesday, saying he’s happy to be back in the Super Bowl for the fifth time in his career, saying it “sucks” to be sitting at home and watching the game.

“It’s great. This is everything that you ask for as an athlete and as competitors,” he said. “As a competitor you want to be here, you need to be here. This is why we’ve worked so hard over the years – high school, college, pros – to prepare for games like this. It’s a fun game. I’ve had an opportunity to be in a few of them, and it’s hard to imagine the football season ends in five days for us, but it does. It’s been a great season for us, and hopefully we can make it extra special with a win on Sunday.”

Here are a few other highlights from his Wednesday press conference:

On Deion Branch’s penchant for coming up big in big games and whether he can repeat that on Sunday: “Deion is a big part of what we do. As you saw in the Denver game, when he makes those big plays down the field – and he’s made some big ones in AFC Championship Games and Super Bowls – he’s a very clutch player. He always seems to show up for the big games. I’ve always enjoyed working with him. For him to come back last season – he told my last week on the bye week how excited he was to be back in this game and how grateful he was and that he went away from our team and didn’t really experience what he wanted to experience at the other place – now he’s back and we have this opportunity again. He just kept telling me, ‘Tom, you don’t know how happy I am to be back playing for this team and in this game. It’s great for all of us.’”

On the importance of bringing Wes Welker back in 2012 and the possibility of this being their last game together: “We haven’t talked about that. I would never want to think about that. Wes is one of my great friends. I hope he’s back. He certainly deserves it. He’s done a great job since he’s gotten here. He led the league this year in catches and in yards. Really as an underdog he has continued to show his character. Every year he seems to get better and have an understanding of our offense and what he does. He’s a great player on this team.”

On the support of his father – Tom Brady, Sr. – over the years: “It’s one of my favorite topics, talking about my Dad and my relationship with him. He was my role model growing up. I really enjoyed spending time with him. I had three older sisters, so when you’re the youngest, the baby boy and the only boy, you get spoiled by your Mom and your Dad, which I certainly did. My Dad would always take me on trips together. We always enjoyed playing golf together and doing things one-on-one. When I was in high school and I really started enjoying the game and understanding the game we went to some camps at some different colleges. We went to the University of Arizona one year, UCLA one year and Arizona State one year. He was always there to support me. He’s been there every step of the way. Then I went to school a long ways from home (University of Michigan) and he and my Mom were there at every home football game that they could possibly be at and a lot of road games, too. And even when I started my pro career, he traveled to Buffalo. I don’t know if you guys have ever been to the hotels in Buffalo – they’re not the nicest places in the world – but he would still travel to those. It was just great to grow up in a house like that and feel so supported by your Mom and Dad. I’ve always had that great support at home. I certainly wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t have the love and support of my parents and my sisters and my family.”

On whether he’s seen Chad Ochocinco getting more comfortable in the offense and what his trust level is with him: “Chad has worked hard every day. I’ve really loved having Chad on this team and being able to play with him. I met him a while ago at my second Pro Bowl, I think he was there. His still has that childlike quality in terms of his enthusiasm for the game and practice and competition. I was excited to get him this year. I wished that he would have had a bigger role on this team. We’ve just had other guys who have played more snaps with Deion (Branch), Wes (Welker), Rob (Gronkowski) and Aaron (Hernandez), who are obviously so hard to take off of the field. Chad’s done a great job. He comes to work every day and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. I think he’s enjoying this experience this week, too. To play in this game for the first time, he’s been telling me how excited he is. I’m excited for him.”

On what longtime family friend and mentor Tom Martinez meant to his development as a quarterback: “He’s obviously a great friend of mine and a great friend of my family’s, and has been for a long time. He taught me how to throw the football at a young age. I’m forever indebted to him. We’ve worked together for over 20 years trying to work on my mechanics and nail those down. He’s had a great commitment to me. He’s always calling and texting and saying, ‘Get your shoulder down and get your arm up and close your left side and take a shorter stride.’ Talk about a perfectionist, he’s a perfectionist and he doesn’t let anything slide with me. I owe so much to him. I love him. I love his family. He’s got a great family and I enjoy being with him and working with him. He’s hopefully going to get a kidney pretty soon. He’s been looking for a kidney transplant for a long time, and I’m sure hoping he gets one.”

Read More: Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch, Sr., Tom Brady
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