FOXBORO — Tom Brady won’t have Rob Gronkowski to lean on for the rest of the playoffs.
But he sent a clear message Wednesday in his press conference at Gillette Stadium as he and the Patriots get ready to take on the Ravens in the AFC championship.
“We learned a little bit about ourselves,” Brady said. “You prepare as if everyone’s going to be there, and then things happen in the game and you have to be able to adjust,” Brady said. “There was quite a bit of adjusting the other night, same thing could happen this weekend. Whoever’s on the field has to perform at a high level, this is the biggest game of our year, so there’s really no excuses at this point, there’s nothing beyond this week that’s guaranteed, so we’ve got to go out there and earn it.”
Brady also spoke about what kind of battle he expects. The Patriots and Ravens have played down to the last play in three of their last five meetings, including a game-winning field goal by Justin Tucker on the last play on Sept. 23 in Baltimore.
“It’s not like you beat this team 50-0,” Brady said. “It’s always a tight game, there’s tight coverage, there’s tight throws, there’s tough reads, because schematically they do quite a few things.
“It’s never easy, there won’t be an easy throw this weekend. They really challenge you, that’s why they’re in this game, they’re not going to just hand you the ball, hand you points, hand you easy scores. They’re great in the red area, they’re great on third down, they really make you earn it, so that has to be our mindset, that’s what we’ll really need to be able to do.”
There’s been only one blowout in the last five games, the 33-14 Ravens win in the AFC wild-card round in Jan. 2010. The two teams have met in the playoffs three of the last four seasons.
Brady knows the Ravens defense will be particularly fired up with the Ray Lewis farewell in full stride.
“He doesn’t give up hardly any plays, makes a ton of tackles, great in the pass game, great in the run game,” Brady said. “He blitzes well, like he did a few years ago. He’s really a playmaker for them, so they give him the opportunity to make those plays, and you see when he makes a play their whole sideline gets really amped up.
“You always have to know where 52’s at. He’s always right in the middle of the defense, but whether he’s blitzing or covering or he’s free in the middle of the field, you always have to take him into account.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots . WEEI 93.7FM will broadcast the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Ravens on Sunday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m.