Not surprisingly, Brady downplayed the lack of snaps early for Welker, who did not start the game and did not get on the field until after Aaron Hernandez's injury. Julian Edelman started in his place and took the majority of the snaps as the number two receiver in the Pats' "12" personnel (one receiver, two tight ends, two receivers), a spot Welker has long occupied.
"It was just a personnel grouping where he's not in the game. We have a lot of different personnel groupings with him in the game. There's a lot of guys on the roster and we're trying to utilize every player," Brady said. "Hopefully everyone can contribute and have opportunity and be fresh and stay healthy. Because we need everybody; it's a long year."
Brady was more effusive in his praise of Welker as a person and teammate, just as he was Sunday after the game.
"I love Wes," he said. "He's like one of my best friends. What he does on a daily basis to prepare himself really motivates everybody else. He's a leader. He's so tough. I've been in so many critical, critical situations with him where he's worked so hard to do the right thing and be in the right place and make the play. He's a phenomenal player."
As for the Cardinals:
"This is a team that had won eight of their last 10 dating back to last year, so now it's nine of 11. We talked about them all week about being a team that plays hard for 60 minutes, that wins a lot of close games; they were 4-0 in overtime last year," Brady said. "So you know the principles of what they're built on and what they're capable of. I don't think we took them lightly at all. I thought we prepared hard. Everyone's trying to do the right thing. There's a lot of effort. It's just the execution. That requires more attention to detail and more concentration. And that's what we've got to try to do a better job of.
"You can never overlook a team. And we certainly never have done that and we never will do that. I think what happened yesterday is we just didn't play the way that we needed to be able to play for 60 minutes to win a game. Until we do that, they're going to be very competitive, like they were yesterday."
Brady also said the Cardinals didn't do much that was a surprise to the Patriots, and explained the loss as a lack of execution by the Patriots.
With several players pointing to a less-than-crisp week of practice leading up to the game, Brady acknowledged that it wasn't their best, but also indicated it might be an early-season blip.
"It's the second week of the year," he said. "It's not like we've got everything figured out as a team yet in practice or in games, obviously. The way we played yesterday is probably pretty much the way we practiced last week; it was just up and down. We make good plays and then we make bad plays, and good plays and bad plays. The problem with that offensively -- or defensively -- is you can't string together drives. That was our problem yesterday."
Of Stephen Gostkowski's miss on the game-winning kick, he said, "He always makes those. He's been the best kicker, the most accurate kicker in the history of our team. He's a great kicker. Everyone's confident, he was confident, sometimes you just miss them. Sometimes as a quarterback you just miss a throw, sometimes as a linebacker you just miss a tackle or you drop a ball. That's just football. It's never one play. … It's easy now to point a finger at one player or one play. But the reality is it was a lot of plays by a lot of guys where we need to do a better job so that it doesn't come down to a kick at the end of the game."