Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show on Monday morning, a day after the Pats clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs with a 34-20 victory over the Bills. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The game was played in rainy and cold conditions in Foxboro, but it didn’t slow down the home team, which closed the season with two solid wins.
“I think when you win, none of the conditions really matter much,” Brady said. “When you lose, yeah, you definitely have some games that you remember and you go, ‘God, those sure were crappy weather conditions.’ But I thought we really fought through adversity and played a tough game, played a really tough, hard-nosed football game that we needed to play. We just did such a great job in the run game, played really good on defense, great in the kicking game. That’s what we did against Baltimore, and it was really effective. To do it two weeks in a row this time of year is exactly what we needed.”
LeGarrette Blount was the game’s star, as the big running back amassed a team-record 334 all-purpose yards, including a career-high 189 yards rushing with two long touchdowns. Toward the end of the game, Blount could be seen with his arm around Brady as they had a discussion on the sideline.
“It was a very joyful moment I think for both of us,” Brady said. “He had played an incredible game. It’s really been a great season for our team to get to this point. We’ve definitely got a group of overachievers, guys that have worked really hard to come in and played whatever role they’ve been asked to play, whether that’s the receiver position or the running back position, the offensive line has been shuffled around.
“To be 12-4, we’re pretty proud of that. It’s a lot of guys that believe in one another. Certainly the way LeGarrette performed yesterday was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, in some pretty tough conditions. It was a great effort by him. The offensive line played their hearts out. They continued to be the strength of our team. That’s what we’re going to need here down the stretch.”
The Patriots wore down the Bills by relying on the offensive line to set an early tone and then continuing to pound away with the 250-pound Blount.
“The mark of a tough team is how well you run the ball and how well you stop the run. So I think you’re right, it speaks a lot to the toughness of those guys,” Brady said. “They want a chance to prove that, too. Football, depending on the day, some days it’s 50 passes, some days it’s 50 runs. To be able to do both of those, not a lot of teams can do both of those. So to be able to do both of those and do them effectively is really a well-balanced team, really a well-coached offensive line, a well-coached offensive unit. We have some great coaches — Josh McDaniels and Dante Scarnecchia — the way they prepare us. They’re phenomenal. It goes up and down the staff.
“We’re very fortunate. We’re fortunate to be at this point. We worked hard to get to this point. Now we get to see if we can go take advantage of it.”
According to Brady, the physical and mental toughness of this team is one of its hallmarks.
“I would say our team really this year has established a mental toughness, which is really critical to the success and the overall success of what our team is and what we’re trying to be,” Brady said. “We’ve got a lot of tough guys. We’ve got physically tough guys on our offensive line. I’d take any one of those guys in a street fight. Because those guys are going to fight their butts off. They’re as tough as can be — the tight ends, the way they’ve played all year and how tough they are, what they’ve added to our team. James Develin, who really doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he’s done, but what an amazing job he’s done playing fullback for our team — really established a brand of toughness that we haven’t had for a long time at that position. I’m really proud of him, I’m proud of all the guys and what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished. Now this is the reason why we worked so hard, to put ourselves in this position.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
On Julian Edelman, who finished the season with 105 receptions for 1,056 yards: “It’s a real credit to him. He’s put himself in that position, to take advantage of the opportunity that he got. You’re sitting behind probably the best receiver in football for the last five or six years in Wes [Welker]. You don’t get a lot of opportunity. Jules got his opportunity, really worked hard over the years to get himself in a position to take advantage of it. And then this year he stayed healthy for the entire year. He’s been able to produce week in and week out, been really a dependable, consistent player for us. You can see the types of improvements that he’s made over the course of the year based on the fact that he’s been able to practice all the time and play every game. It’s hard to be productive when you play eight games a year. So, to play them all and to be as consistent as he’s been for our team has really been critical to the success of our team, which is by far the best thing that could have possibly happened for him in his career.”
On Josh McDaniels: “Josh is the best offensive coach I could ever imagine. He’s so prepared, he’s so confident in what he does. He figures out a way every week to get us in the best position as players to win. I have so much respect for him and what he does for me, what he does for our team. he’s just a great coach. He’s got a lot of poise, got a lot of discipline. I hope he doesn’t go anywhere. I mean, I’d love for him to coach me the rest of my life. But that’s just the way it is. He’s one of my best friends, and I love having him.”
On the team’s offensive balance: “Well, we’re trying to be [balanced]. I think whatever we do, we have to do well. If we do run it, we’ve got to run it effectively. If we throw it, we’ve got to be efficient throwing it. It’s really just a matter of how the game plays out, the conditions that we’re in. We’ve had a lead here the last two games, which we didn’t have for a long time. We’re able to run the ball a little bit more and wear the teams out. By the fourth quarter we’re making some of our longest runs of the game. That’s been a big positive for our team — getting ahead on these teams and forcing them to throw the ball, forcing them to make mistakes and really get out of the style of play that they wanted to [play]. That’s really been a big key for us. Hopefully we can keep playing from ahead.”
On Brady’s 32-yard punt in the third quarter: “It wasn’t a very good punt. It was a pretty crappy punt. The safety was pretty deep, [Jim] Leonhard, he’s a punt returner. Somehow the ball found him. It wasn’t a good punt.”
On if he would prefer inclement weather for the playoff opener: “Whatever it is, we’ve proven this year we can win in just about anything. So, if it’s adverse weather conditions, really cold; it could be 55 degrees and perfect, and that would be fine for us, too. Whatever it is, it is. Like I said, the thing in football is, both teams play in it. … Look, you’ve just got to win the game. That’s the important thing. The opponent yesterday was the Buffalo Bills. It wasn’t the rain, it wasn’t the refs, it was Buffalo. It was good to go out and get a good win against them.”
On if he appreciates the team’s success more now, at the age of 36: “I think every year you gain more perspective. I think you take a different view every year, just ’cause maybe your situation in life’s a little bit different. You’re right, at 36 I’ve seen a lot, I’ve been a part of a lot of teams. I’ve never been a part of a year like this where we’ve had this many guys injured, and new guys really step in, and won some really last-second games. Really, when we’ve been challenged the most we’ve been at our best. That shows really the mental toughness of the team that we’ve got. Hopefully that serves us well here two weeks from now, where we’ve got a chance to go out on I guess on a Saturday night and see if we can beat a really good football team.”
On if he’s thought about his post-playing career: “I haven’t thought about it. Hopefully it’s a long time from now. But I haven’t really thought about any of those things. I just love playing. Like I said, I love the opportunity that I have to play for the Patriots. That’s all I’m really concerned about right now. Something down the road, who knows? There’s a lot of ways that your lives can take different directions. But things are pretty fun right now.”
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