After leading the Patriots to a 27-26 victory over the Browns on Sunday, quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the miraculous comeback.
Tom Brady celebrates the Patriots’ game-winning touchdown against the Browns with center Ryan Wendell. (AP)
The Patriots trailed by 12 points with just over a minute remaining but rallied with two touchdown passes from Brady to pull out the win.
“You can’t draw them up any better than that,” Brady said. “I know emotionally it’s draining for all of us, because you ride the highs and lows and the waves of the game. But however you can get a win, you get a win, especially in the NFL. There’s teams — Carolina got beat up pretty good yesterday, Seattle got beat; everyone said they’re the best team. You just never know in the NFL.”
The Patriots appeared headed to a disastrous loss against an unheralded Browns team before turning things around late.
“We got booed at halftime,” Brady noted. “We’ve just got such high expectations for our team, and people aren’t satisfied with anything less than our best every single game. It’s just the way it is around here. We’re just trying to go out there and give our best, and whoever’s out there we’re going to try to make the plays to win the game. But it’s a tough league. You sustain injuries. We’re trying to find ways to make different combinations work.
“We’re 10-3, for God’s sake. It hasn’t been all bad this year. There’s been a few decent things in there.”
Sunday marked another late-game comeback for a team that has made a habit out of such finishes this season.
“I think there’s a sense that we’re never out of it,” Brady said. “And we’re not trying to get down, by any means. We’re trying to play well and play from ahead. We got out of it, out of rhythm early, and then we found our rhythm. And when we get our momentum going, we’re pretty good.”
The enthusiasm about the win was tempered somewhat due to an injury to Rob Gronkowski that reportedly will end his season. Asked if the Patriots could still win the Super Bowl without the standout tight end, Brady wouldn’t speculate.
“That’s perfect for you guys to talk about all day, but that’s not something that we engage in or talk about those types of things,” Brady said. “However it ends up playing out — I don’t know anything about the injury or severity of it — but we’ve got a talented group of players that are playing. Every team has players that they wish were out there every down, and if they’re not out there every down you’ve still got to find a way to win.
“Our thoughts are with him, and I know how tough he is and how much he wants to be out there with us. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Added Brady: “If there’s one thing he has, it’s mental toughness. He’ll be back, regardless of what it is, better than ever.”
With the absence of Gronkowski, the Patriots again find themselves looking for alternatives to replace his contributions to the offense.
“You just have to find a different formula. That’s the important part,” Brady said. “Gronk provides a certain margin of error because of how talented a player he is. The other guys play different roles for us. Those roles are going to have to just shift — kind of what we did on the last two drives of the game. We ended up going four wide receivers at points, different points we had more with [James] Develin and [Matthew] Mulligan on the field. We’re going to have to make due. Whatever the combinations are, if Gronk’s not out there, then we have to try to figure those out.
“We’re going to go down to Miami with confidence that we’re going to win the game, I know that — confidence in our game plan, confidence in what we’re doing and what we’re asking all the players to do. It may be different than what the game plan was with Gronk in there. But we’re just going to have to try to figure it out.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
On his performance Sunday: “I can do a lot better than I played yesterday. We obviously got off to a slow start. I can do a lot better job. I’m going to try to go out there and do a lot better job this week.”
On the Patriots falling behind in games: “We’ve dug ourselves plenty of holes this year at different times. Sometimes we’ve found our ways out of it; there’s a few games when we haven’t. Ultimately we’re going to have to play from ahead at some point, which would make things a lot easier on us offensive and defensively, and then we’ll see what we can do, if we can play from ahead. We’ve got to get ahead at some point and start putting some pressure on the other team. Playing from behind, there’s too little margin of error at the end of the game. The hole that we put ourselves in, those are tough to dig out of. But I’m glad we dug out of it yesterday. Hopefully we don’t do the same thing this week in Miami.”
On the pass interference call against the Browns that set up the winning touchdown: “Truthfully, I haven’t seen the play yet. … The ref saw something. There’s a lot of close calls. We still had time left on the clock. That was a big play in the game. That was a huge play. When I let it go, I thought he had a chance for it. I just saw the flag thrown. I haven’t even seen the play. [The official] saw it and he threw it.”
On the Patriots special teams, which came up big with an onside kick by Stephen Gostkowski with one minute remaining: “Our special teams has saved us all year, the way Steve’s played, one of the best years I can ever remember a kicker having. Ryan Allen has done a great job as a punter for us. So, our special teams has been huge. All the guys that contribute a lot on special teams like [Matthew] Slater and Nate Ebner and Marquice Cole, I’m missing a lot of guys. That’s been huge strength for our team all year. … I like [Gostkowski] just kicking field goals most of the time, or extra points. We don’t want too many more onside kicks. We’ve had enough of those for the year.”