With the Patriots preparing to meet the Texans on Sunday in the AFC playoffs, quarterback Tom Brady joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning for his weekly interview and talked about his team's matchup as well as other news from around the league.
Brady said he watched all four playoff games over the weekend. Following the Seahawks' victory over Washington on Sunday, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman -- who trash-talked Brady following their game in October -- received a smack in the face from Washington offensive lineman Trent Williams.
"I couldn't do that," Brady said. "Trent Williams is a lot bigger than I am, probably a lot more intimidating."
Brady avoided criticizing Sherman, but he said it's his preference to be classy after games.
"Everyone reacts differently," he said. "I have my own style. I just try to be respectful to the opponents, because I have a lot of respect for the opponents. It's not a bunch of B.S. Guys that are playing in the NFL are pretty good players. I just give them the respect they deserve. I've played a lot of really great players in my career -- the best cornerbacks, the best linebackers, the best defensive linemen. When you play against Dwight Freeney and Jason Taylor, and you play against those guys and you realize you're going to have to play them again, you'd better say as many nice things as you can, which is kind of what I like to do."
The Patriots manhandled the Texans in their regular-season meeting -- a 42-14 victory on Dec. 10 -- but Brady said he's not putting too much weight into that outcome.
"I don't think that game is going to have any bearing on what happens next week," Brady said. "It was a big win for our season, it was a big win at that time. But this game is going to be entirely different, and I think we've got to be able to put just as much preparation into the game as we did before. … We know these guys. I think that's the part that I enjoy, is that I've already spent a lot of time preparing for them. So, to have another week to do it, you feel like you're going to know them that much better. Now, we've still got to go out and execute against it. They have some great players on defense. That was a very good game they played the other day."
Added Brady: "They've got a very good defense. J.J. Watt's as good as there is in the NFL. They present their own challenges. I know they didn't feel like they played their best against us, which they didn't. And in a lot of ways I feel like we can play better, too. We're going to need to play better. This is going to need to be our best game."
Brady said the Patriots won't avoid talking about the last meeting, but they'll look at their mistakes from that game and try to fix them.
"We're going to go in and coach is going to talk about all the things that we need to do," Brady said. "He's going to show us the last game and say, 'These are the things we did well,' and 'These are the things we didn't do well.' … We've just got to make sure that we're doing all the things we need to do to help us go out and win the game. It usually starts with turnovers. That's where it usually starts."
Two years ago, the Patriots routed the Jets in the regular season but then were upset in the playoffs by Rex Ryan's crew.
"We haven't talked about that at all," Brady said. "I'm sure coach will talk about that this week, though. I think that's a great example. The reason we lost that game wasn't because we beat them, whatever, four weeks before. It was because we sucked in the game. We just didn't play the way we're capable. I think the important part is to play up to our level of expectation. And that's from myself, to the receivers, to the tight ends, to the running backs, to the offensive line, to go out and play the way that we're capable of playing. We have a lot of confidence when we do that."
In practices leading up to the last Patriots-Texans meeting, Bill Belichick had the team hold up tennis rackets at the defensive line to simulate what Brady would be seeing from Watt, Houston's 6-foot-5 defensive end.
"They might be taller this time," Brady said. "He might get five or six of them out there. Last time he had four, and they just tried to mirror where I was looking. It's actually very helpful. I'm always excited to see what coach Belichick is going to pull out of his hat."
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On if the playoffs are more fun for him: "There's a level of intensity that you have that really you can't simulate. Maybe a Monday night game against a big opponent with a lot on the line, or a Sunday night game where you're kind of the only team out there. But the playoffs is just different. There's repercussions to losing games, and that's the difference. There are in the regular season, but not like this. One play can send your team home. I think that's the difference. … This is what we play for. This is what it's all about. This is why you work hard. This is what mental toughness is all about. This is what it's all about. It's more fun when you're challenged more and there's more at stake."
On tight end Rob Gronkowski: "He's working hard. Nobody wants to be out there more than him on a full-time basis. He's never really missed any games for us, so it's been really hard for him to sit on the sideline. He wants to get out there. … He's working hard to do his rehab and get back out there and be as full speed as he can possibly be. That's what we're all hoping. Whether that's the case, who knows?"
On Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who announced he will retire after the season: "I said last week, I've had the privilege to play against him, and that really is a privilege. You talk about guys that do things the right way and play the right way and play the game how it should be played and have respect for your opponents and the preparation. We've had some battles. It's amazing for one player like that, for as long as he's been at Baltimore they've had if not the best, one of the top three best defenses in the league, year in and year out, player after player, coordinator after coordinator. They're doing it again this year."
On if Drew Bledsoe would have beaten him in a footrace, as Bledsoe claimed last week: "He probably could. He could. Once he got going, he was pretty fast. He was big and strong, and once he got moving in one direction -- I've seen him run, and he could run a little bit."
On if he could outrun Peyton Manning: "I would take my chances on beating Peyton. I think it would be an hour-long special if the two of us were in a 40-yard dash. You'd have to tune in the whole time."
On Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, who led Texas A&M to a 41-13 rout of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night: "He's a one-man show. That was amazing to watch him play. It's going to be fun to watch him for many, many years to come. … When you can have that athletic ability and the way that he can find open receivers, it's incredible how he's able to move and make good decisions. That's always the most challenging thing."