Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, recapping Sunday's 23-16 victory over the Dolphins that clinched the AFC East title for New England.
"They gave us everything we could handle yesterday," Brady said. "I have a lot of respect for the Dolphins, they have some very good players on their team. I thought we did a good job there down at the end closing it out when we needed to. That was most important. That's why it was satisfying. Certainly not an ugly win. I don't buy that one bit. I thought that was a great win for our team."
The Patriots had a season-low 321 yards of offense. Brady completed 24-of-40 passes for 238 yards and a touchdown, with one interception.
"I don't think it was our best day of production on offense," Brady said. "I thought Miami's defense played really well. But our defense got us the ball in some short fields, played great in some really tough situations for them -- coming off a turnover, we got backed up on our own goal line and had to punt it out, didn't give up much. Our defense really saved the day.
"And obviously what our backs have been able to do not only yesterday but all season has been a huge reason why we've been on a six-game winning streak."
Patriots running backs had just 11 yards on seven carries in the first half but then helped orchestrate a 16-play, 77-yard drive that chewed up 7:18 of the fourth quarter and ended with a field goal that made it a two-possession game with 1:10 remaining. Stevan Ridley had 10 carries for 46 yards on the drive.
Asked what sparked the turnaround in the ground game, Brady said he wasn't sure.
"That's a good question. I don't know. I haven't watched the film yet," he said. "It usually comes down to execution, just executing a little bit better. I think the good part was to do that down in Miami in the warm weather, where we really haven't played in the warm weather in a long time. I thought that was really a great effort by our guys, in a situation where you've already played 52 minutes and you're able to play your best football when you need it the most and when you're the most tired. That's what it's got to be when you're playing for a division title. They're not going to be easy, you've got to go out and earn them. And I thought we did a good job of that yesterday."
The Pats have been stung by injuries, especially on the offensive line, but had no letdown against arguably the second-best team in the division.
"It's not like we're the healthiest team in the league right now," Brady said. "There's a lot of teams dealing with injuries. Your depth is really tested, your mental toughness is tested. I think we have the best coaches in the league. They get us prepared better than any other team in the league. All those little things become big things at the end of the day.
"It was fun to go down to Miami, knowing what was at stake. Really, that was a chance to put our whole division behind us, to go 5-0 in our division at this point, which is pretty good, and we were able to do it. It was a very satisfying feeling on the way home."
Brady was sacked four times Sunday and took some hard hits, but he said there were no lasting impacts.
"I actually feel pretty good today," Brady said. "I think over the course of the season your body gets calloused a little bit to those plays and those sacks. But I feel pretty good today. [Cameron Wake] got a good hit, there's no question. I'm glad I came out of it OK."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On what it means to be the only QB in NFL history to win 10 division titles: "I didn't know that. It means I'm playing with a great group of guys, I'll tell you that, with a great group of coaches, and everyone that's really committed themselves to winning and doing what's in the best interests of the team. I think that's been the mark of what our team's been all about since the day I got here. Patriot football is being selfless and committing yourself to winning, even when it doesn't mean the ball is always going in your direction or the blitzes aren't always called for you or you're not always the focal point of the play. It's a lot of guys who make an effort every week to go out and play their best.
"That was pretty cool yesterday to win in a place where we've lost the last three times in December. That was what it took and that's what we accomplished."
On Wes Welker, who had 12 catches for 103 yards Sunday: "I said after the game the kind of respect I have for him. Nobody works harder than Wes. He's a great competitor. What he does in practice every day and his ability to -- for a guy who's whatever, 185 pounds, to play every single play and take hits over the middle from those guys that are twice as big as him, get up, come back to the huddle, look me in the eye, be ready for the next play, to be in that type of condition, his mental and physical toughness is unlike anything you've ever seen. He's what our team's all about. He's the mark of a Patriot football player. So, no, I never take him for granted. Every day, I'm lucky to have a guy like that on my team and as a teammate."
On receiver Brandon Lloyd, who was targeted just once Sunday: "That's what I've got to do a better job of. You can't come out of the game targeting him one time. That's on myself. I've got to do a better job distributing the ball to him. It's not that he's not open. Because believe me, he's open. Every time I watch the film I look after the game and go, 'God, I should have thrown to Brandon on that play.' He's a very integral part of what we do. He's worked really hard over the course of the season. I've got to a better job of getting him the ball. I don't think there's any question about that."
On the tragedy in Kansas City, where Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and them himself: "That was I'm sure shocking for everybody. It was shocking to our own locker room. We're very close to that organization, with a lot of our friends there. It's just very tragic. It's pretty remarkable for them to come out and win yesterday. That says a lot about the character of that team."
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