Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, as he prepares for Sunday's AFC championship game against the Ravens.
The Patriots are coming off a 45-10 rout of the Broncos on Saturday night, a game in which Brady faced little pressure from Denver's defensive line.
"We had great protection, there's no question about that," Brady said. "I thought those guys played well, really as they have all year. The offensive line has been our biggest strength on offense. It was that way in the regular season and it continues to be that in the playoffs. It was a great effort by those guys, and really all those guys that stepped in and moved spots. Logan [Mankins] is in there, and then Logan's not in there and other guys are adjusting. But they all played really exceptionally well, both in the run game and pass game. We'll have a good week of practice and face our toughest challenge this year."
Asked if the offense was in the zone, Brady said: "Well, I thought that a lot of guys played really well. A lot of guys were really on the same page. So, I thought that there were things we were definitely doing more to our level of expectation. And still, I think there's ways that we need to be able to improve. A couple of turnovers hurt us. But for the most part it was really a good, solid effort. I feel like you win the game, and then immediately you're thinking about the next game. So, there's not too much you take from the game other than winning and moving on. That's something we haven't done here in a while, and it was good to go out there and get a win."
Next up for the Patriots is a Ravens team that defeated the Texans on Sunday. Baltimore came to New England two years ago and left with a big win.
"The Ravens, they're the best team we've faced all year," Brady said. "There's no one that's going to overlook a team like that. It would be impossible to do. They present a ton of challenges in all three phases of the game. You watch them yesterday, they're physical, they're tough, they can cover. They've got some of the best players in the history of the NFL at their position, in [Terrell] Suggs and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata. You've got phenomenal players there. We've really got our work cut out for us. We'll be excited about the challenge. We'll use the week to prepare like we always do, and really try to be at our best -- hopefully be better than we were this past Saturday night."
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On if he was more intense than usual Saturday: "I try to approach it the same way every week. Because every week of the regular season's important. Then you get to the playoffs, and I'm sure everybody naturally there -- it's an emotional game. So, the focus obviously heightens, the awareness heightens. It's playoff football. Because you realize that if you throw an interception, if you fumble the ball, if you misread a coverage, that could be your season. It's not like in the regular season where you go, 'Oh, that's OK, we'll get them next week.' No, there's no next week. So, everything has to be right. And you try to make everything right. And when you make mistakes, you've got to say, 'OK, I made a mistake, I'm not going to make another one.' I thought our team really did a good job of that the other night.
"It's just really that time of year. You don't make any excuses for your mistakes. You just try to play as best as you can. And you try to prepare yourself as well as you can, and you go out there and you see what it looks like."
On if ending the three-game postseason losing streak was a motivation: "Not really. I didn't think about it like that. You know what it is. It's not like coach [Bill] Belichick need to say it. It's not like we need to have a big team meeting to talk about, 'Look, if we lose this game, the season's over.' You don't sit there and think about, man, we're losing the game. I really don't think that's part of our mindset. You show up to work, you put the preparation in, you focus on the things you need to focus on, which is how to play your best, which is game-planning, which is your scheme, which is your execution. And then you go out to practice and you go through it. If it doesn't look good, you've got to change some things and you move forward to the next day and the next day. And ultimately it's the game, and you go out there and you see what it looks like.
"Our preparation is solid. It's been that way all year. We've won nine straight, so that's been good for all of us. But it really means nothing now. Now, the slate's clean. And when that Baltimore game ended yesterday, we know the opponent. It really comes down to one game. Hopefully, we can be at our best for this one game."
On putting Aaron Hernandez in the backfield: "It was a bit of a new look that we haven't done. Aaron's pretty good with the ball in his hands. When you give him the ball, whether you throw it or hand it to him, he does a good job of making guys miss. We handed it to him on the first drive and he ran, I don't know, 40 yards  for a huge gain to get us going. Then we hit Wes [Welker] with a touchdown pass. Aaron's a threat back there. And then when you couple that with Rob [Gronkowski] and his ability to catch the ball, be an influence on the passing game, along with Wes, along with Deion [Branch]. And then with Danny [Woodhead] running the ball, and Benny [Green-Ellis] running the ball hard, it's a good group on offense."
On if the team tired of hearing about Tim Tebow: We never talked about it. And even when we talked about them the first time, when we played them in Denver, coach Belichick really had the team focused on Denver as an entire team. If you don't turn the TV on -- I think you could judge it based on the questions you get, but if you don't really get caught up in the hype, of the good or the bad, then you just focus on what you need to do. We knew that Denver was much more than a team than certainly one individual. And I think that's really what the team focused on. Whoever the media chooses chooses to hype, whatever player, we realize that -- I was focused on [Elvis] Dumervil. and [Von] Miller and their secondary and their coverage and their scheme and so forth. That's where our focus needed to be. I thought we did a good job of doing that."
To read a transcript of the conversation, check the It Is What It Is blog. 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.
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