[wysifield-embeddedaudio|eid="514611"|type="embeddedaudio"|view_mode="full"]After taking home a 35-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins to close out the 2016 regular season with a 14-2 record, the Patriots shift focus to the playoffs. Tom Brady joined Kirk & Callahan for his weekly interview on WEEI to talk about what it meant to finish the regular season strong, and the importance of carrying that winning momentum into the playoffs.
As New England prepares to host its AFC Divisional Playoff game on January 14 at Gillette Stadium, here are some of the best quotes from Brady's interview.
(On finishing the regular season with an 8-0 record on the road)
We always joke, I'm on Bus 3 when we're on these road trips, and we've had a lot of [bad] rides driving out of Denver on Bus 3, a lot of [bad] rides riding out of Denver or out of Miami on Bus 3. It was nice to get on Bus 3 with everyone who's always on there and just say, 'Man, this has been a great year.' Every time you get on the bus after these road games, you're always talking about, if you lose, 'Man, we should have made that play,' and what happened and what we've got to do. This year it's just been a lot of mental toughness, a lot of determination, starting from the first game of the year, going all the way back to September with a great win to start the year and then a great win to finish the year. To be 8-0 on the road is so tough in the NFL. There are only a few teams that have done it. It's been very gratifying, but I think we'd all be disappointed if we play in two weeks and play less than our best and don't win. We've been a part of one of those before and I hope I'm never a part of one of those ever again.
(On remaining mentally tough through the playoffs and earning the right to keep playing)
This is the time of year where you only have 70 plays left in your season, that's the way it is. You've got to earn the right for another 70 on offense. So with 70 plays left in the season, the guys that are out on the field are the guys that you need to depend on and trust the most. This is what it's all for, you don't have a next week, so every play becomes even that much more critical, and you can't have one mistake. You can't have one mental mistake, you try to eliminate the physical mistakes, but this is what football season's all about right now.
(On finishing the regular season with just two interceptions as a team)
It's tough because I love throwing two picks. I mean, that's the highlight of what my season has been for me. That's something that I really love being a part of on offense because it's not just the quarterback. Those come down to receivers catching the ball and being in the right place and great protection up front, which we've had all those things play in to it. I think the one thing for a quarterback that means the most to me is that I never want to be the reason why we lose a game. Every week, our number one goal is not to turn the ball over. For us to have two interceptions on the year as a quarterback group with what Jimmy [Garoppolo] did in the first couple games and what Jacoby [Brissett] did in the next two, and then to have two over the course of 12 games, I think that does put your team in a great position when you're not throwing picks. Coach [Bill Belichick] always says you can't win until you can stop from losing and that's a good formula.
(On how the Patriots will utilize their first-round bye week)
Even on a day like this, there's no rest for us this week. This is like full-on evaluation, self-scout, trying to get ahead on maybe some of the opponents we might face. It's figuring out what we need to do better. This is a huge – this is a get-ahead week. This isn't a bye week. We've got to try to figure out how we're going to win a game in two weeks against an opponent right now that we don't know who it's going to be, and one way to do that is to focus on ourselves.
(On finishing the regular season with seven consecutive victories)
It was just a great way to finish. I mean to be 14-2, to finish 8-0 on the road. I think being in that position with two games left was a great place to be. I said a few times, losing the last two last year, it's just, you don't feel good. We were 10-0 to start the year, you're in this great position, and all of the sudden you finish 12-4, losing four of six at the end. It just is not the right way to do it. Coach [Bill Belichick] says football starts after Thanksgiving and we're going to see what our team is made of. I think to go to Denver and win there, which has always been a tough place for us, to beat Baltimore which has always been tough for us, to beat the Jets in a game that wasn't close has always been tough for us, and to win in Miami which has always been tough for us. I think those last four games were what Coach [Bill Belichick] was talking about – playing well after Thanksgiving.