Brady: Ravens are ‘best team we’ve faced all year’


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Tom Brady has wrapped his weekly appearance on WEEI…here is the transcript of what he said, with the focus mostly on the win against Denver on Saturday night and this Sunday’s AFC Championship matchup with the Ravens:

On the play of the offensive line:
We had great protection, there’s no question about that; those guys played well, as they have all year. The offensive line has been our biggest strength on offense – it was that way in the regular season, it will continue to be that way in the playoffs. It was a great effort by those guys and really all those guys have stepped in and moved spots and Logan (Mankins is) in there and then Logan’s not in there, other guys are adjusting, but they all played really exceptionally well both in the run game and the pass game. We’ll have a good week of practice and face our toughest week of practice this year.

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Does that offensive performance qualify as “being in the zone”?
Well I thought that a lot of guys played really well and a lot of guys were really on the same page, so I thought there were things we were doing more to our level of expectation and still I think there’s ways that we need to be able to improve – a couple turnovers hurt us, but for the most part it was really good solid effort and I feel like…you win the game and 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.

Brady has said that the 2009 & 2010 playoff losses don’t matter, but isn’t there a lesson in those games?
I don’t think the mindset is you better be careful or to think really negative thoughts about what we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish – a lot of the emphasis this season has been on us and what we need to do better, so look, the Ravens, they’re the best team we’ve faced all year and 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, and when you watch them, like yesterday, they’re physical, they’re tough, they can cover and they’ve got some of the best players in the history of the NFL at their positions, in (Terrell) Suggs and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata – you’ve got phenomenal players there. So 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 then really try to be at our best, hopefully be better than we were this past Saturday night.

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On his level of intensity last week (Chad Ochocinco commented to Yahoo! Sports that Brady’s intensity was unlike anything he’d every experienced):
Nah…Well I try to approach it the same way every week because every week of the regular season is important, then you get to the playoffs and I’m sure everybody naturally they’re…it’s an emotional game, so the focus heightens, the awareness heightens, it’s really just – 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. And it’s not like in the regular season where you go, ‘Oh, ok, we’ll get ‘em 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 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 that time of year, you don’t make any excuses for your mistakes, you 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 New England wanting to get the “one and done” monkey off its back:
Well, not really. No, I didn’t think about it like that. You know what it is – it’s not like coach Belichick needs to say it, it’s not like we have to have a big team meeting and talk about, ‘look if we lose this game, the season’s over.’ You don’t sit there and think about losing the game; I really don’t think that’s part of our mindset. You just, you show up to work, you put in the preparation, 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 execution, and then you go out to practice and you go through it and if it doesn’t look good you have to change some things and you move forward to the next day and the next day and then 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, I think that’s been good for all of us, but it really means nothing now. I think now it’s the slate’s clean and when that Baltimore game ended yesterday, we know the opponent and it really comes down to one game and hopefully we can be at our best for one game.

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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 making guys miss, so we handed to him in the first drive and he ran 40 yards [43 yards], really a huge gain to get us going, and we hit Wes (Welker) with the touchdown pass. Aaron’s a threat back there and then when you couple that with Rob (Gronkowski) and his ability to catch the ball along with Wes along with Deion (Branch) and then with Danny (Woodhead) and Benny (Green-Ellis) running the ball hard, it’s a good group on offense. We have some threats out there, we just have to go out there and keep doing it. That’s the coaching – just keep doing it.

On whether his teammates tired “Tebowmania”
We never talked about it, and even when we talked about him 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 or you’re not…I think you can judge it based on the questions you get but if you don’t really get caught up in the hype or the good and the bad, then you just focus on what you need to do. And we knew that Denver was much more of a team than one individual and I think that’s really what the team focused on. And I think whoever the media chooses to hype, whatever player…I was focused on (Elvis) Dumervil and (Von) Miller, their secondary, their coverages, their scheme and so forth, and that’s where our focus needed to be. I thought we did a good job of doing that.


On feeling like the game is “in the bag” when they were up 35-7 at halftime against the Broncos:
No, we don’t think about that at all. We went in there at halftime and what everyone was saying is it’s 0-0. We’re not changing what we’re doing, we’re going to go out there and try to play a good second half and play smart football and try to go get a win. We came out in the second half, we started fast, we got a touchdown on the board, we were moving the ball, we turned the ball over going in at the 15, 20 yard line, whatever that was. We didn’t change our mentality, we executed a little bit better than we’ve been executing, and we need to keep executing well so we can score points.
Do you prefer that the defense bring extra pass rushers?
Yeah, well, I think there’s risk/reward to bringing pressure and not bringing pressure, and look, if you’re not getting there with four guys and you’ve got to bring extra guys, that’s what you’re going to do, which leaves fewer guys in coverage. It’s tough to single-cover our guys all day because our guys, when they catch it, they’re going to make some yards with it. If you drop more guys into coverage, then I’ll have more time back there to figure things out. It’s like on offense – there’s different strategies we use, we certainly don’t use one, we try to mix in all of them so they have to be prepared for all of them, and I think that’s the same thing Denver tried to do with us. It wasn’t all blitz, there’s definitely times when they covered us, but if we’re hurting them, they’re going to change. And I’m sure we get in this game, if they’re not pressuring us and we’re hurting them, they’re going to start pressuring us, and vice-versa. So we’ve got to be prepared for everything. Last time we played them, we played them last year, they pressure quite a bit. They have a good team. They have a ton of talent, guys I really respect and have played against a bunch of times, so it should be a great game. I’m looking forward to it.
Are you more inclined to go to the tight end or slot guy when you’re being pressured?
Yeah, definitely, because they’re getting open a little bit quicker than sometimes guys on the outside part of the field are getting open, and a lot of your adjustments to blitzes are on the inside part of the formation. Between Aaron and Rob and Wes on the inside, and what Deion was able to do on the outside of the field the other night, along with Julian (Edelman) made a few catches, Chad (Ochocinco) had an opportunity that I missed him on, so there was definitely some plays that we had some great chances on, both on the inside and the outside, and again, it goes back to where they cover. If they’re not going to cover Deion going up the sideline, then we’re going to try to make that play, and if they do then we’re going to try to throw it somewhere else and it’s just a matter of where they’re not.
Does every receiver have a ‘hot’ route, an adjustment they make?
No. No. Sometimes you’ll call a play where all five guys have short routes, so if they do blitz I have choices; there’s some routes where guys have deeper routes and maybe one guy will be the adjustor based on a blitz look. It can vary; there could be two guys, there could be three guys, it’s just a matter of the play that’s called versus the pressure we face.
And Welker always does (have a ‘hot’ route)?
No, not necessarily. Because sometimes he’s got a different route, he’s focused on something different and then you can protect to his side and say, ‘I don’t care what happens to Wes’s side’, but if they come off the other side, and Rob, you’re going to be the guy or the running back, you’re going to be the guy. So it’s really just a matter of what we’re trying to attack.
On Kurt Warner’s belief that the pressure to be perfect eventually takes its toll:
No, I don’t, because I feel like my job is to go out there and score points. If I’m not scoring points, I’m not doing my job. Our offense, when coach puts us out there, that’s what he expects us to do. He never says, ‘alright guys, we’re going to run four minutes off the clock and then we’re going to punt.’ He says every time we go out there, we’re trying to score. And we’re trying to score touchdowns. The pressure to score touchdowns, every quarterback should feel that pressure if that’s what pressure is.
Can you tell if you’ve had good practices that you’ll play well?
I think it gives you a pretty good indication of the focus and the heightened awareness of the team if you have a really good week of practice. Sometimes we’re practicing a little bit uneven and you’re not quite sure how it’s going to go. There’s other nights, say we’re playing on Sunday, and you’re sitting in team meeting on Saturday night saying, we know what we’re doing. We got a damn good plan, we’re prepared, then you can go out there and play with confidence. Believe me, there’s times you’ve felt that and then we go out there and lose. I don’t think it’s 100 percent. Ultimately, what decides the game is your level of execution on Sunday not your level of execution in practice, but if you practice well it certainly gives you a much better chance than if you practice poorly.
Were you confident last week?
Yeah we were, we definitely were.
Dennis & Callahan have terms this game ‘Uggs vs. Suggs’ [Brady is a pitchman for Australian boot-maker Uggs]
(Laughs) Maybe I’ll send him a few pairs to soften him up for the game.
Any fan left in you when you see the Niners advance?
Well I’m not a fan of the 49ers anymore. I think there’s a lot of people in the Bay Area that are happy, a lot of people that are friends of mine are happy. My college roommate was at the game and he had fun, one of our great family friends was here this weekend cheering for us, so he was pretty happy when I saw him after our game.
Did you watch the Ravens-Texans game yesterday?
I did. I did watch that game, which was pretty rare and I was watching a lot of the other game, so yesterday I was probably more of a fan. And in the breaks I got started on my Baltimore stuff.
Mixed emotions seeing Ed Reed carried off the field?
I love Ed Reed. If I could be a defensive player, I’d be Ed Reed. Or Ray Lewis, between those two guys. We’ve got guys that are getting banged up too. I’m sure Ed will be there – this game means everything to our season, so if he has any chance of playing, which I’m sure he’s got a chance, I’m sure he’ll be playing. And he’ll be playing good, I can promise you that.
Does 2009 playoff loss to Ravens play a role this week or chance to go to Super Bowl all the motivation needed?
That’s all we need. This is nothing about ’09 or ’10, this is nothing about last week or last season or last month or 10 years ago, it’s about this week, and the clock’s ticking and every second that goes by we’re one second closer to getting to that game. So we’ve got to use our time wisely to prepare, get our rest and be ready to go out and face our biggest challenge of the season.

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