Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, following Sunday's 28-0 victory over the Dolphins that clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs and a first-round bye.
"We've definitely made some improvements over the course of the year, which we always hope to do," Brady said. "We were at one point 2-3, not feeling very good about where we were at. To finish 12-4 is pretty good considering where we started. And the four games we lost were all real competitive games. If we can just keep getting better and continue to improve, we're as competitive as any team left. I think that gives us a lot of confidence here heading into the playoffs."
Added Brady: "We're in a decent position. We're playing hard, we're playing tough. We won some close games, we lost some close games. I just hope that still our best football's ahead of us. I really do. We've been waiting for our guys to get healthy. Hopefully we can be as healthy as we can be here in two weeks. I'd love to see what that looks like, when we can finally get everyone out there at one time and put our best out on the field for 60 minutes."
The Texans' loss to the Colts in an early game opened the door for the Patriots to grab the No. 2 seed, but Brady said even if that had not happened, the Pats were prepared to play a more complete game than last Sunday's unimpressive 23-16 victory over the Jaguars.
"I think most of the guys knew [the Texans lost]," Brady said. "I think some guys were following it a little bit as the game went on. But coach [Bill] Belichick made a great point to all of us. He said, 'Look, there's nobody that can help our position other than us. Why don't we focus our attention on going out and winning the game, and whatever happens, happens.' Had the Colts not won yesterday and Houston won, I think we'd have approached the game the same way and tried to go out there and execute really well. I think that's what's most important. I think that was the gratifying part, that guys were really mentally into it. It was a cold night, it was a windy night, but the guys really hung in there."
Tight end Rob Gronkowski made his return Sunday after missing five games with a broken left forearm.
"He's one of the best in the game right now," Brady said. "When he's out there it makes a big difference. He had two pretty important catches yesterday. Those explosive plays in the passing game and his ability to stretch the defense down the field is very important.
"Aaron [Hernandez] did a great job yesterday. He's obviously feeling a lot better from the bumps and bruises that he's accumulated over the course of the year. And Daniel Fells and Hooman [Michael Hoomanawanui] have really stepped in and played a very critical role in us doing some things yesterday also. It was great to have everybody contribute."
Added Brady about Gronkowski: "He's always just a mismatch. He's got really great speed. He tracks the ball really well in the area. He's got a great hands. And he's very tough. He's very quick out of his breaks. He does everything well. When he's out there, it's just a tough mismatch for the defense. He's got a really unique skill set. That's why he's been so productive since the day he got here. So, it was great to see."
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