|Tom Brady doesn’t take anything negative said about Patriots seriously||01.22.17 at 4:30 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Much was made of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live video last weekend, but the Patriots won’t be using it for motivation.
Appearing on Westwood One’s pregame show with Jim Gray, Tom Brady was asked about Mike Tomlin calling the Patriots a-holes, but Brady said he doesn’t pay attention to that, or any of the other negative comments that may be said about the team.
“When any one is caught up in the heat of the moment, that was after a huge win, you say a lot of things,” Brady said. “I don’t take any of that stuff seriously — what anyone thinks of us or how they feel about us. None of that is going to decide the outcome of this game. I haven’t put any thought in that. I’ve heard the comments and so forth, but I could really care less.”
After the Week 7 meeting between the two teams, Brady gave Ben Roethlisberger his jersey. The quarterback hopes to get one back in return some day.
“I am always happy to give those things to Ben or the other players who have asked,” Brady said. “It’s pretty cool. There is such a great comradery with NFL players and I think that exchange of jerseys, even though it is relatively new, it’s very cool. Hopefully I will get one back in return from him at some point. He’s just a spectacular player and I know he wasn’t excited about not being out there in Week 7, but I know he will be excited about being out there later today, as will our team.
“If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. He has that team incredibly hot right now. We are going to need to play a great night of football and be clicking on all three phases in order to beat this tough Steelers team.”
Who is Tom Brady playing for in the AFC championship game?
The quarterback posted to Instagram on Sunday morning with that answer: My family, my friends, my teammates, my coaches, Pats nation, my schools, our fans… I’m playing for you today. LET’S GO
The Patriots and Steelers will meet in the AFC championship game Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
|Scouting Report: What you need to know about Steelers-Patriots||01.21.17 at 4:37 pm ET|
Here’s everything you need to know for Sunday’s AFC title game between the Patriots and Steelers in Foxboro.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL
It appears that LeGarrette Blount (299 carries 1,161 yards, a league-high 18 rushing touchdowns) is over whatever illness that dogged him last week. When he spoke with us earlier in the week, he appeared to be in a bit of a Nyquil-induced haze, but you should still expect him to get the bulk of the between-the-tackles carries this time around against the Steelers. The Pittsburgh run defense has been spotty over the course of the 2016 season, having allowed an average of 100 rushing yards per game (13th in the league). That includes 24 carries for 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns from Blount in the September showdown between the two teams. (That was a season-high in terms of yardage for the veteran back.) The wild card here is Dion Lewis, who has seen a steady increase in his rushing workload down the stretch and into the postseason; he’s averaged 15 carries and 59 yards over the last three games of the regular season and first one of the postseason. The Joe Morris clone, who didn’t play in the first game between these two teams earlier in the year, could provide a nice changeup option for the Patriots against a Pittsburgh defense geared to stop the hammer strength of someone like Blount.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL
This is the biggest advantage that the Patriots have. While the Steelers’ front seven has made great strides over the second half of the season, the back end of the Pittsburgh defense is vulnerable and exploitable by the likes of Tom Brady (67 percent completion rate, 3,554 passing yards, 28 TDs, 2 INTs in 12 regular-season games). We’ll have more of Brady’s recent run against Mike Tomlin-defenses, but this time around, look for Brady to zero in on the usual suspects. Julian Edelman (98 catches, 159 targets, 1,106 yards, 3 TDs) has 20 catches on 22 targets in the last two Patriots-Steelers game, basically taking what Pittsburgh’s zone defenses offer up. Also look for Martellus Bennett (55 catches, 73 targets, 701 yards, 7 TDs) to get some action, despite the fact that he’s a bit hobbled at this point.
The Steelers’ pass defense splits are really astounding — according to this chart from Football Outsiders, Pittsburgh is the worst team in the league at slowing opposing No. 1 receivers, but one of the best when it comes to No. 2 and other receivers. Basically, Edelman should be in for a massive day. The other area worth watching? Lewis and James White. The two backs will be essential to the Patriots’ passing attack, as the Steelers have also had trouble against pass-catching running backs and White and Lewis (77 catches in the regular season) are two of the best in the league. The Steelers were 16th in the league in pass defense this past season, allowing an average of 243 yards per game through the air.
Look for Pittsburgh to continue to pressure Brady from any and all spots. They could try and get some push up the middle (more on that in a second), and with that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see what they try and do with someone like Bud Dupree. Regardless, the Steelers have done a good job this year keeping quarterbacks on their toes. No team had more sacks in the second half of the season than the Steelers, who recorded 30 in the final nine games of the regular season. James Harrison (5 sacks), Dupree (4.5 sacks) and Stephon Tuitt (4 sacks) lead the team. In addition, Ryan Shazier and Artie Burns have three interceptions each, best on the team, and Pittsburgh’s 23 takeaways were tied with New England for 14th in the league.
After the Packers and Falcons meet in the NFC championship, it will be the Patriots and Steelers facing off at Gillette Stadium in the AFC championship. The two teams already met once this year in Week 7 with the Patriots coming out on top in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers were without Ben Roethlisberger. These were the two teams many expected to see in the AFC title game, and here we are.
Since it is the playoffs, here are 20 things to know heading into the matchup.
(As always, thanks to the Patriots media relations staff for the help with some of these from this week’s media guide.)
1. With a win, the Patriots will reach the Super Bowl for a ninth time, which would break a tie with Dallas, Denver and Pittsburgh for the most Super Bowl berths in NFL history.
2. Also with a win, Bill Belichick will pass Don Shula (6) for most Super Bowl appearances of all-time.
3. Tom Brady has owned the Steelers at home. In four games he is 4-0, 109-for-154 (71 percent) passing for 1,413 yards with 15 touchdowns and no interceptions.
4. The Patriots have faced seven running backs who were in the top 10 in rushing this season and didn’t allow any of them to rush for over 100 yards. Overall, they haven’t allowed a rusher to gain 90 or more yards in any of their past 24 games. When allowing a 100-yard rusher in the postseason the Patriots are 4-5 in their history.
5. On the other side of the field, over the course of Le’Veon Bell’s career the Steelers are 18-2 when he goes over 90 yards, including a perfect 9-0 this season.
6. Since 2013 including the playoffs, the Patriots are 33-4 when Julian Edelman goes over 70 yards receiving. (He has in nine straight games.)
7. With 34 yards receiving Edelman will pass Deion Branch (852) for the most receiving yards in Patriots playoff history.
8. In the last two games against the Steelers, Brady is 20-for-22 with 157 yards when throwing to Edelman.
9. Since 2004 including the playoffs, Brady has had consecutive games of multiple interceptions only twice.
10. The Steelers are 42-6 since the beginning of 2014 when scoring 18 or more points, which includes the playoffs.
Tom Brady Sr. must have talked with Chris Hogan earlier this week.
Appearing on FNTSY Sports Network with Gabe Morency (a guest on WEEI’s “NFL Sunday”), Brady Sr. was asked about Roger Goodell not attending the AFC title game and gave virtually the same response as Hogan did earlier in the week.
“The answer is the commissioner can go anywhere that he wants to go,” Brady Sr. said. “As far as we’re concerned, him not being there isn’t going to impact us one way or the other. I personally have tried to let it go. It doesn’t serve anybody’s purpose to carry this thing on. The Patriots are going to be fine with or without him there. If they get to the Super Bowl they will be fine with him there or not there.
“All they are concerned about and what I am hopeful for is that they raise the Lombardi trophy in Houston. Whether he’s there or not, I could care less.”
Tom Brady gave his thoughts earlier this week on Kirk & Callahan.
“He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do,” Brady said. “If he wants to come, that would be — yeah, he can come.”
Added Brady: “He can go wherever he wants to go. Whoever is at the game is at the game.”
Brady Sr. is ready for a tough game on Sunday, but feels the Patriots will be ready.
“This Pittsburgh team is going to be tough this weekend,” he said. “Le’Veon Bell is a beast and when you have Antonio Brown, oh my god. Ben Roethlisberger, you don’t get much better than that either. He’s a stud. We have our work cut out for us. We’ll be ready. Hopefully our readiness is going to result in a W at the end of the game.”
|An ‘anxious’ Tom Brady ready for the ‘big build-up’ to Sunday: ‘Hopefully, we’re up for it’||01.20.17 at 5:50 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For Tom Brady, there’s a fine line between being nervous and simply being anxious for a big game.
For the 11th time in his career, the Patriots quarterback will be playing Sunday night for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. He is 6-4 as a starter in the previous ten trips.
At Gillette Stadium, Brady has been beaten just once in five previous AFC championship games.
Brady was asked if, at the age of 39, he still feels nervous in the hours and days before taking the field for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
“No, I think you just get anxious for games, because there is a big build-up to them and you prepare pretty hard,” Brady said. “So, you finally get out there and play, because you feel like you’ve built up the whole week on the practice field and you’ve talked about a lot of situations and you’ve just got to see how they play out. I think it’s just more anxiousness.”
Brady has certainly played his fair share of physical defenses, from the Jets and Bart Scott to the Ravens and Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs to the Broncos and Von Miller. Now, it’s James Harrison, Bud Dupree, Lawrence Timmons and Stephon Tuitt and the Steelers who will be getting after Brady.
If Brady has proven anything this season, he can take a hit and still execute. Even last week, while taking a beating from Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus and throwing a pair of interceptions, he managed to stand in the pocked and fire a pair of touchdown passes.
Is there anything that intimidates Brady?
“I don’t know if intimidate is the word. I think you always go into the game understanding what gets you beat and cautious of the things they do well,” Brady said Friday. “I don’t think it’s necessarily intimidation. I think what helps you win and lose is really good performance and execution and so forth.”
As for his teammates, Brady is not worried about his teammates being mentally ready for Sunday.
“I think a lot of guys know how to get ready to go, and coach does a good job of preparing them,” Brady said. “I think part of the veteran responsibility is to let some of those guys know anything that you might know as a player, or feel as a player going into a big game like this. So, you try to convey those messages over the course of the week of practice, and basically all the time. Wherever you are you try to let other guys know some of your experiences and how to deal with them. But a lot of people ask questions, and some people take the information and retain it and others don’t. So, you just try to do the best you can do.
|Tom Brady on President Trump saying QB called him Thursday night: ‘Let’s talk about football’||at 2:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — On Thursday night, the night before taking office, President Donald Trump mentioned Tom Brady at a donor’s dinner while acknowledging Patriots owner Robert Kraft being in attendance.
“He’s got a great quarterback named Tom Brady, and a great coach named [Bill] Belichick, Bob Kraft,” Trump said. “So good luck, Bob. Your friend Tom just called, he feels good. He called to congratulate us, he feels good. Good luck. You’re going to do great things.”
On Friday morning, Bill Belichick responded by saying he was focused on football.
Brady was then asked about the remarks Friday afternoon.
“I don’t have much to say,” he said.
“Did you call him?” a reporter followed-up with.
“Did I call him? … Let’s just talk about football,” Brady said.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
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