The New England Patriots cruised by the Houston Texans and into the AFC Championship Game, but the victory didn’t come without a price. Running back Danny Woodhead was hurt but hasn’t necessarily been ruled out for this weekend as this post was written, but more importantly the Pats lost stud tight end Rob Gronkowski for the rest of the postseason.
Still, quarterback Tom Brady has plenty of weapons around him. He’s expecting the toughest challenge to date when the Patriots square off with the Baltimore Ravens, but also says opposing teams have “got to stop all of us.”
Tom Brady joined WEEI in Boston with Dennis and Callahan to discuss losing a couple of key players in Sunday’s victory over Houston, Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo ripping the Pats on Twitter, the success of the team’s hurry-up offense, an AFC Championship Game rematch with Baltimore and passing Joe Montana for most playoff victories by a quarterback.
On the Patriots winning despite injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Danny Woodhead:
“We’ve played a bunch of games now; we’ve never really been fully healthy yet — and obviously now won’t be — but you know what? We’ve still got a very good team. When there’s different guys that step up and make those big-time plays — whether it’s Wes [Welker] or Brandon [Lloyd] or Deion [Branch] or Shane [Vereen] or “Rid” [Stevan Ridley] or Woody. Aaron Hernandez had another big game — they’ve got to stop all of us. And I think that’s what we have to continue to do this week.”
On Baltimore’s Brendon Ayanbadejo calling out the Patriots’ no-huddle offense on Twitter:
“We’ve had a lot of people comment about our team and our players this year. I think the best thing that we do is we ignore the noise, we go out and we try to prepare. Nothing, really, that anybody says or does is going to affect what’s going to happen next Sunday. I think it’s best for us just to focus on what we can do, and that’s prepare and work and do what we’ve done all season. People want to say things or write things — they have the liberty to do that — but it doesn’t really have any bearing on what we do.”
On the success of the hurry-up:
“I think they’re both important — I think the pace, the play and the execution, certainly. Like I’ve said before, it does no good to go fast and not do your job. It starts with us executing well, being able to do our job effectively. I think as long as we can stay on the field and make a few first downs, then we’ve got a great tempo and momentum to the drive. And it’s hard to stop us at that point. We’ve just got to get into the drive, and once we’re into the drive, we feel like we’re going to put points on the board.”
On facing Baltimore again in a rematch of last year’s AFC title game:
“They’re playing their best football right now. … I did see a few of those Torrey Smith catches, and those were incredible. He had a great game against us [in Week 3], and he had a great game on Saturday. They’ve got a very good offense, very good defense, they’ve got some Pro Bowl special teams guys. They’ve got a great team and they’re very well-coached. That’s why they’re in the same position that they were last year. I feel the same way about us. We’ve got, I feel, the best coaching, we’ve got a lot of mentally tough players and physically tough players that are going to be facing our toughest challenge of the year. And I know we’ll be ready for it when the ball’s kicked off next week.”
On passing Joe Montana, his boyhood idol, for most playoff victories with the win over Houston:
“To grow up as a kid in the Bay Area with the 49ers winning all those games is probably a lot like the kids in New England growing up now. I think that’s really where my love for football started. My parents loved football and loved taking me to the games. There was nothing more fun for me than to go to Candlestick Park. Our seats were about on the 10-yard line, about eight rows from the top of the stadium. There was just so much excitement every week because the team won. Those two quarterbacks really set the bar for how the position is to be played. I’ve always admired both [Montana and Steve Young]. I have a good relationship with those guys.”
Tags: Aaron Hernandez, AFC Championship Game, Baltimore Ravens, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Danny Woodhead, Houston Texans, Joe Montana, New England Patriots, NFL, NFL Playoffs, Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, Wes Welker