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Tom Brady on D&C: ‘It’s a very abrupt end’ to season

01.20.14 at 11:15 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his final appearance of the season on WEEI’s Patriots Monday with Dennis & Callahan and discussed the team’s disappointing performance in Sunday’s AFC championship game. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Brady was not at his best as the Patriots’ season ended with a 26-16 loss to Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Denver.

“They played a lot better than we did yesterday,” Belichick said. “We certainly didn’t make enough plays to win. There’s a lot of plays that impact the outcome of the game. We didn’t make enough good plays to impact the outcome in a positive way for us. It’s unfortunate for our season to come to an end like this. But I would say Denver earned it. They played a lot better than we did yesterday.”

Added Brady: “It’s a very abrupt end,” Brady said. “And it’s that for 30 teams, really. It comes to really an abrupt end for all the guys that don’t make it to the playoffs. Then you have the wild card round and the divisional round and then the championship, and there’s only two teams left. Those two teams really earned it. They’ve played good over the course of the whole season.

“One or two breaks that we get, maybe we’re playing that championship game at home, and maybe that has a difference. That’s why Denver really kept the pedal to the metal all season. They scored a lot of points. They overcame some adversity, too. When you look at a team like that, they certainly earned it. I tip my cap to them, because I understand the challenge it is to do that. They have  a lot of mentally tough guys. That’s why they’re going to represent the AFC.”

Brady acknowledged that the game might have had a different feel had it been played in Foxboro rather than Denver.

“Yeah, of course it would have been different,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of things that play into these types of games. You’re right, you look at those games, you look back at the Cincy game and the Jet game, those games that we lost, and all of them mean something. It means something in September, they mean something in December. The good teams play well over the course of four months. And we played good, we played good enough to get the second seed. We didn’t play good enough to get the first seed. Then we would have needed to play a lot better than we played yesterday.

“It was more of how we played and not where we played yesterday. It’s a tough environment to play in when you go on the road. But look, we’ve won games on the road in tough environments. We got to a game yesterday where we needed to play really well, and we just didn’t play well enough. And Denver played a really good game. They were pretty flawless. They didn’t have any penalties, they didn’t turn the ball over. They played pretty good on third down on both sides of the ball. We just couldn’t force them into making many bad plays on either side of the ball.

“Special teams were really a nonfactor for both teams with the balls that were kicked into the end zone; there wasn’t much in the punt game. So it came down to offense and defense, and they got the best of us in both of those phases, and that’s why they advanced.”

Although he’s 36 and much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, Brady said he doesn’t look at this missed opportunity any differently.

“No, they all feel the same,” he said. “I would say the difference at this point in my career is just, there’s only thing that matters when you start the season. There’s been some times when you’re younger, the personal accolades mean a little bit more, or guys work really hard to get significant contracts and so forth. And I’ve been really fortunate to be able to have both those things over the years to the point where now for me there’s only one goal, and that’s to win a championship. We just fell short. There’s only one team that gets to do it out of 31, and the competition is pretty stiff every year, especially in the NFL, where every team can only spend the same amount of money on players. There’s a lot of things that go into every season. Our team fought really hard and I’m proud of the effort.

“It just comes down to a game yesterday where we win and we advance, and we just didn’t play our best game of football. We’ve played a lot of good football over the course of this season, just not enough yesterday.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On pending free agent Julian Edelman: “He had an incredible season. No one could have ever predicted what he could accomplish for our team. He was one guy who was just so consistent, dependable for us. I’m just proud of him because of his mental toughness and his maturity and his work ethic. He spent a lot of time watching over the last four years, and to finally get an opportunity where he could be an every-down player, and the way he contributed to our team, especially a game like yesterday, where he made so many big plays for us, was great to see. The free agency and stuff, all that, like I said, that takes time to develop. And I know how difficult a task it is for our team to make decisions, and we’ve had to make a lot of tough decisions over the years. All those things will sort themselves out. And coach Belichick’s the one that makes all those tough decisions.

“I love him. He’s one of my best pals. I spent a lot of time with him. I’m just proud of him for everything that he’s accomplished. He deserves the best.”

On if he would like a taller receiver on the Patriots: “I had Randy Moss at one point. He was pretty good at [catching high balls]. Those are really unique players. We have a very good skill set of a receivers in Julian, and the way Austin [Collie] played yesterday, Danny [Amendola] played his heart out. We had plenty there yesterday, we just couldn’t do enough early in the game to put pressure on the team to really play from behind. We got behind and it was just too much to dig ourselves out of a hole.

“I wish we could have done more on the first couple of third downs of the game, just to put some points on the board so that we can make it a little bit tougher on them. But I’m proud of the way we fought. Our guys played with a lot of toughness, with a lot of resiliency. Even all the way up to the end we fought hard. That’s something to be [proud of]. That’s really the mark of coach [Bill] Belichick and what he talks about. For a team where — like I said, the NFL tries to level the playing field every year; we always feel like we’ve got a pretty good shot.”

On Danny Amendola‘s season: “It’s not for me to evaluate. Our coaches do all that. He works really hard, he fought through some pretty tough injury earlier in the year. He did everything the team asked of him. I really enjoy working with him. It will be great to have another offseason with him and Aaron Dobson and K.T. [Kenbrell Thompkins] and [Josh] Boyce. We’ve got a young corps of receivers. It’s going to be up to us to determine how hard we work and how important football is to us so that we can go out and make improvements and be one of the prolific offenses in our league. When you look around and you see the kind of offense you want to be and you see a team like Denver that is executing at a high level, that’s what we want, too. That’s what we need to be able to do. But that requires a lot of work and a lot of time. We’re going to put that work in so that we can be back where we need to be.”

On Broncos receiver Wes Welker knocking Patriots defensive back Aqib Talib out of the game with a hit that Belichick called into question: “Truthfully, I didn’t really see the play. The game ended, I went to the locker room and was on the bus and flew home and woke up this morning; I haven’t turned on the TV or anything. So it’s hard for me to say.”

On if there is continued personal animosity between Belichick and Welker: “I have no idea. He could probably answer that better than me. Wes is a great player and a great friend.”

On his overthrow to a wide-open Edelman: “That’€™s one that I think about that could certainly impact the outcome of the game from my standpoint. I need to hit that throw. That’€™s a throw I’€™m capable of making, and I make nine out of 10 times. It just, I didn’t make it yesterday. When you get into games like this where the margin of error is slim, you’ve got to make those plays and I didn’t make it. Sometimes it’€™s not turnovers that affect games, sometimes it’€™s missed opportunities, and I missed that opportunity.”

On the third-and-3 throw to Matthew Slater: “We were taking a shot. He had some one-on-one coverage. Matt ran a great route. I wish I’d have put it out there about another two feet. He could have made a good play on it. The defender made a good play on it. He jumped up and high-pointed it. They both got their hands on it. We just didn’t throw it farther enough for him to make the play. There were some other options. There was some pretty tight coverage, and sometimes they force you to throw the ball to the perimeter and use one of the perimeter receivers. We had talked about it before the game, and I just didn’t make the throw I wanted to make.”

On the failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter: “We could have made it a one-score game and put some pressure on them, but we just didn’t execute the play the way I needed to execute the play.”

On what it will take to get back to the AFC championship game next year: “There’s a lot of time for evaluation for our team. Everything is pretty fresh at this point. Coach always talks about the abrupt end to the season, because you put [as] much you can into every week, and like we did last week, we put a lot into the game, we put a lot into thinking about all the reasons why we’re going to win, and then when you lose, there’s no fallback. We’ll have a lot of time to evaluate the offseason and what we need to do better. Certainly offensively there’s a lot of things that we need to do to make improvements, but those will all be evaluated by our coaches and individually as players what we need to do better so we can prepare ourselves better that we can go out and have a season where maybe we are the last team standing.”

On how long he will rest before starting offseason work: “It won’t be too long. Football is a year-round thing for me. And I think the way you prepare your mind and body in the offseason is really important to be able to sustain however many — we played 22 games this year. To be play basically every snap, you can’t really shortcut the offseason and think that during the season your body’s going to respond. It’s more let your mind rest and let your heart rest a little bit, because that needs a little time to heal, just with the emotional energy that’s spent, and how challenging it is to get up and down, to really get up for every game, and then to deal with the disappointment of losing. My body feels fine, my body feels great. To come out of a long season, I feel like I just wish we could have played one more game.”

On Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman mouthing off after the NFC championship game: “I don’€™t know him at all. I’ve watched him play, and he’€™s that kind of guy. I approach the game and I have respect for my opponents. That’€™s the way our team always plays. We win with graciousness, and when we lose we can do better. Some teams don’€™t always do that or that’€™s not their program. Look, they advanced. The only way to counter that is to beat them, so when you don’€™t win, it’s hard to say, but you’ve just got to shut your mouth and listen to it. Maybe when you get an opportunity down the road maybe that’€™s a source of motivation. But they’ve got a good team. They’ve played well all year. They played well at home. That’€™s why they advanced, too.”

On who he will be rooting for in the Super Bowl: “I don’€™t have much of a rooting interest, truthfully. Those games are hard to watch. I don’€™t really see myself sitting down to enjoy a football game to watch it. Our season’€™s over. Truthfully, I could care less about watching the game. That’€™s pretty much how I feel.”

On if he’s going to the Pro Bowl: “I’€™m not sure yet. … I’€™d love to be able to go. We’€™ll see. … I’ve got to kind of figure out what’€™s going on here in Foxboro. There’€™s a lot of things to talk about with our coaches. And then we’€™ll go from there.”

On if a successful season means a Super Bowl title: “I think there’€™s a lot to be gained by seasons like this. You see players that have really emerged to become dependable players for our team and there’€™s a lot of things to be gained from it. But at the same time we’€™re not here — I think we’€™ve established a certain level of play that we’€™re not satisfied unless we’€™re the last team standing. We couldn’€™t accomplish that this year. We fought hard, we were a very resilient team. The two teams that won yesterday are both great football teams, but two weeks from now one of them is going to be pretty disappointed. It’€™s a very competitive league. To start the year there’s 32 teams that have hope. We’re one of those teams that always has hope. We played well enough over the course of the season to get ourselves in an opportunity to play in two weeks, but we didn’€™t play well enough yesterday. In that sense it is an unsuccessful season. We’€™ll do like we always do, we’€™ll evaluate, we’€™ll try to find ways to make improvements, and hopefully — we’ve played in three AFC championships in a row and the goal is to get to another one. Then you’€™ve got to try to close the deal. There’€™s a lot of things that play into it over the course of the season, and your margin of error is sometimes bigger than others. Yesterday it would have taken a great effort by our team to win and we just came up short.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Richard Sherman
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