Tom Brady has led the New England Patriots to a fifth Super Bowl, as the New England Patriots dodged a bullet in the AFC Championship Game, edging the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20. Tom Brady was far from his usual dominating self in the pocket, completing just 22-of-36 passes for 239 yards. He was held without a touchdown pass and was intercepted twice. As Brady says though, none of that matters, just that the Patriots were able to win their tenth consecutive game and advance on to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis where they’ll face the New York Giants in a rematch of SB XLIII. Brady joined WEEI in Boston with Dennis and Callahan to talk about what Baltimore did to force him to have an off day, what went through his mind when Billy Cundiff missed his field goal attempt, if he feels the Patriots are a ‘team of destiny’ at this point, feeling sore after taking a shot in the back from Ray lewis at the end of his acrobatic touchdown rush, whether the Giants win over New England in Super Bowl XLIII will in any affect the Patriots’ preparation, Vince Wilfork’s dominating defensive performance, whether thinking about the SB loss in ’07 still makes him sick, and the inspiration Myra Kraft has given the team throughout the season.
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.”
On what’s first on his mind when Cundiff’s kick sailed left:
“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 thought, “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.”
If he feels the Patriots got lucky on Sunday and if he’d say they might be 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.”
On if he’s sore or hurt from his leaping touchdown run where Ray Lewis gave him a shot in the back at the end:
“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.”
Whether the Giants win over New England in SB XLIII will affect the Patriots’ preparation in any way:
“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.”
On Vince Wilfork’s 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.”
If thinking about the ’08 Super Bowl loss still makes him ‘sick’:
“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.
On the team keeping Myra Kraft in their minds throughout the season:
“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.”