Tom Brady on D&C: ‘It would be as satisfying a victory as we’ve ever had to go to Denver and win this game’
|01.13.14 at 10:27 am ET|
With the Patriots and Broncos set for an AFC championship game matchup Sunday, quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan to preview the game and recap Saturday night’s victory over the Colts. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Patriots relied on a strong ground game to defeat the Colts, rushing for 234 yards and six touchdowns.
“That’s been one of our strengths here for the last six weeks, is our ability to run it,” Brady said. “I think our offensive line, the way they’ve played down the stretch has been incredible. And certainly with LeGarrette [Blount], Stevan [Ridley] and Shane [Vereen] and what they’ve done, it’s been really just huge for our team. That’s going to be a part of every game plan, and then when we got out there and we started to really become more efficient in the running game we just kept running it and running it. Then you get those big long runs where LeGarrette broke out and ran for whatever, 70-plus yards.
“It’s been just a great thing for us, to be able to control the tempo of the game. To really be a physical football team is what coach [Bill] Belichick has talked about all year. That’s really come out here really since Thanksgiving.”
Added Brady: “Over the last month we’ve been exceptional in our efficiency. All of the backs are running hard. Like I said, it starts with the offensive line and what they’ve been able to do and what they’ve been able to contribute. I know how satisfying it is for them. When you talk about rushing stats at the end of the year and where our team stands, it’s very gratifying when you’re able to run the ball like we’ve run it. Like I said, the backs do a great job finding the hole and finding what’s there, they’re running really hard, they break tackles. But the offensive line gets those guys started. They deserve so much credit.”
With the emphasis on the running game, the offensive lineman have had a chance to go on the offensive.
“It’s nice to be, for an offensive lineman, for you to be able to be aggressive,” Brady said. “Rather than, when you pass it all day, you’re really just trying to defend the spot. As a run blocker you can really enforce your will upon the other team. That’s where the basic fundamentals of football will never change: You’ve got to be able to stop the run; you’ve got to be able to run the football. Those things don’t ever change. That’s how you get to this point in the year. You’ve got to be able to win different ways, and certainly the way we’ve been able to win for a while now has been critical to our success.”
The Patriots rallied to defeat the Broncos, 34-31, in overtime on Nov. 24, but Brady put little emphasis on that game.
“There’s nothing that’s happened in the past that’s going to help us try to win this game on Sunday,” Brady said. “This game is going to come down to who plays the best. We’ll be able to take some things from the game we played and study them and prepare for them. But we’ll have different things to do, they’ll have different things to do. Their team is different than from when they played us, and we’re pretty different from when we played them.
“We’ll get our preparation going this morning and try to put together a great game plan and prepare as hard as we can, and then go out there and you let it rip. I’m excited. It’s everything you could ask for as an athlete. We’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us. It would be as satisfying a victory as we’ve ever had to go to Denver and win this game.”
Considering all the issues the Patriots have had this season, Brady is thankful for the chance to play for a Super Bowl berth.
“We’ve overcome a lot of things, a lot of injuries, we’ve had some amazing comebacks to get in this situation where we finished the regular season 12-4 with a lot of players filling some big roles over the course of the year, and then having really played our football the last three weeks,” Brady said. “And now to get an opportunity to go play one of the best teams in the league. It’s everything you could ask for. This is what football’s all about. You start the year with 32 teams having a chance, and we’re down to the final four. It’s great to be one of the teams in that position.”
Brady said he expects the Broncos to be favored, and he relishes the challenge his team faces.
“The most satisfying part of being a player is to win the game. It doesn’t matter what a person may think or say,” he said. “Truthfully, I don’t turn the TV on, I don’t read anything. I just try to focus on what I need to do and, like I said, put all that stuff around us. I know different times coach will make us aware of — I know when we played Baltimore nobody picked us to win. I’m sure no one’s going to pick us to win this week. We’ve had our backs against the wall for a while. Really the whole season we’ve lost players and teams have really counted us out.
“We’ve got a bunch of underdogs on our team, and we’ll be an underdog again. We’ll see how that shapes up here at the end of the week. But I know that we’re as tough and physical as we’ve ever been, and that’s the way we’re going to need to go out and play this game. That’s the great challenge for us, to go in there into an environment where a team has really played as good a football as any team all season, and go in there and try to beat them.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
On the Broncos defense: “They’ve been really stingy I think the last six weeks. They haven’t given up many points or yards. When we played them, they’re a physical defense. I thought earlier in the year they gave up a bunch of yards, and their offense was scoring so many points that teams were just throwing the ball all day on them. Now these games have settled in over the last month, and they’ve been able to defend both the run and the pass. They’ve been really good here down the stretch.
“We’ve got to put together a great plan, and I’m sure we will. Our coaches always put us in a great position to do well. It’s going to be up to us players to go out and execute it. We’ll see where we stand at the end of the day.”
On Peyton Manning: “He’s got great command of the offense. He can pretty much do whatever he wants. He obviously has a lot of confidence in what he’s doing, and he has confidence in the guys around him. He’s got a lot of flexibility to get in and out of plays. Ultimately he’s playing very confidently. That’s a great position to be in as a quarterback, when you have an understanding of the offense. He’s been in that offense for a long time. It’s really the same offense that he’s always run. He’s very good at it. The players that he’s got are very talented — they can run block, they do screens, they do traps, they do draws, they do all types of different route combinations. Once he sees the coverage, he tries to get the plays that can beat the coverage. It really forces the defense to play very solid, to cover everything. Because if you don’t then he does a great job finding the holes.”
On the Patriots defense: “Our defense is going to be tested. But our defense is ready. They’ve been really coming together. And the way they’ve played the last six weeks, it’s been pretty incredible also. It’s going to be a great matchup. We’ve got a solid week to prepare, and we’ve got to be at our best. That’s what it’s going to take.”
On playing in Denver: “They earned over the course of the year, 13-3, to have the position to be able to play at home. We’ve got to go to Denver. Some team’s got to play at home, it happens to be them. What coach talked about was it’s how we play, not where we play. No question about it. How we’re going to play is what’s going to determine the outcome of the game. I hope we play our very best. That’s what it’s going to take.”
On if he will continue to be the holder on field goals following the injury to punter Ryan Allen: “I don’t know. We haven’t talked about that yet. Whatever it takes. I’ve had experience, like I’ve said, in college doing it. We’ve got the best kicker in the league. I think you could probably hold for him and he’d make 90 percent of them.”
On if he will have contact with former teammate Wes Welker before Sunday’s game: “I think at this point we’re both pretty focused on what we need to do. There’s plenty of time for those things. This is the biggest game of the year. All my attention is going to be focused on what I’ve got to do to help us win. We’ll save all the pleasantries for after the football season.”
On inspirational teenager Sam Berns, who died Friday: “We got to meet Sam before the Atlanta game. He was a big Patriot fan, lived in Foxboro, and was just a terrific young man. He’ll be missed. I’m sure his family and what they’ve dealt with over the course of his life has been very challenging for them. But Sam’s in a great place. Hopefully we can go out there and — he’ll be watching from above and cheering us on, I know that.”