A day after clinching a playoff spot, Patriots captain Devin McCourty spoke with the media, excited to have punched a post-season ticket after missing out in 2020, but keeping the focus on a tough upcoming divisional battle against Miami.
"I'd be lying if I said coming into this year that it wasn't a goal and an expectation to be playing in the playoffs," said McCourty. "And not to say that it was going to be easy, obviously you guys have watched the season, it hasn't been easy at all. I think for this team it was something that we set out to do and we expected to do it with the guys we had here, the talent we have, the work ethic we have."
As a long-time veteran, McCourty knows what to expect in two weeks, but first, he sees Miami as an excellent proving ground for a Patriots team that lost a one-point battle in the season opener earlier this season.
"We've got opportunities right now this week to start that mentality and prepare that way so when we get into the playoffs we know what it feels like," said McCourty. "Obviously Miami is a tough team, they beat us earlier this year. It's always hard to play division opponents. We're going to get a good taste of what that playoff game is going to be like."
Coming off a big win over the Jaguars, one of their most impressive team performances of the season, McCourty knows it must continue or the season will come to an abrupt end.
"It's key for us this time of the year, you want to just be playing your best football," said McCourty. "Now we're at the point where if you don't prepare well that week and the game doesn't go well, that's it. That's the end of your season.
"If we want to be a good football team down the stretch it has to be consistency, we have to bring that every day, and like I said, this will be a great opportunity for us to see what that looks like going against an opponent that knows us well."