Tom Brady speaks to reporters Friday at Gillette Stadium. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
FOXBORO — For Tom Brady, there’s a fine line between being nervous and simply being anxious for a big game.
For the 11th time in his career, the Patriots quarterback will be playing Sunday night for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. He is 6-4 as a starter in the previous ten trips.
At Gillette Stadium, Brady has been beaten just once in five previous AFC championship games.
Brady was asked if, at the age of 39, he still feels nervous in the hours and days before taking the field for a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
“No, I think you just get anxious for games, because there is a big build-up to them and you prepare pretty hard,” Brady said. “So, you finally get out there and play, because you feel like you’ve built up the whole week on the practice field and you’ve talked about a lot of situations and you’ve just got to see how they play out. I think it’s just more anxiousness.”
Brady has certainly played his fair share of physical defenses, from the Jets and Bart Scott to the Ravens and Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs to the Broncos and Von Miller. Now, it’s James Harrison, Bud Dupree, Lawrence Timmons and Stephon Tuitt and the Steelers who will be getting after Brady.
If Brady has proven anything this season, he can take a hit and still execute. Even last week, while taking a beating from Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus and throwing a pair of interceptions, he managed to stand in the pocked and fire a pair of touchdown passes.
Is there anything that intimidates Brady?
“I don’t know if intimidate is the word. I think you always go into the game understanding what gets you beat and cautious of the things they do well,” Brady said Friday. “I don’t think it’s necessarily intimidation. I think what helps you win and lose is really good performance and execution and so forth.”
As for his teammates, Brady is not worried about his teammates being mentally ready for Sunday.
“I think a lot of guys know how to get ready to go, and coach does a good job of preparing them,” Brady said. “I think part of the veteran responsibility is to let some of those guys know anything that you might know as a player, or feel as a player going into a big game like this. So, you try to convey those messages over the course of the week of practice, and basically all the time. Wherever you are you try to let other guys know some of your experiences and how to deal with them. But a lot of people ask questions, and some people take the information and retain it and others don’t. So, you just try to do the best you can do.
“You just can’t skip through all of those things and get right to the game. You’ve got to go through the whole thing and you’ve got to go through the whole week; the film study and all the practices, all the meetings, walkthroughs. It’s a lot to prepare for, especially against a great defense. [They are] a team that’s won eight or nine straight and are playing as well as they’ve played all season, scoring points. We’ve got to limit them on offense after they played great last week. It’s a tough test, so we’re going to need to be our best.
“It will ultimately come down to those three hours Sunday night. You’re right, we’ve done both. We’ve had great weeks and bad games and bad weeks and great games. We’ve had great weeks and great games and vice versa. You’d always feel better going into the game after you’ve had a great week of preparation. I think the team’s done a good job understanding who we’re playing against, how they play, why they win. We’re playing a great football team. It’s going to take our best three hours of the seasonagainst our biggest challenge all season. Hopefully, we’re up for it.”