Pressure? What pressure?
That's the attitude the New England Patriots have taken in their pursuit of a perfect season.
And it all starts from the top.
"We deal with it one week at a time," head coach Bill Belichick told a reporter during his daily press conference.
"Last week we dealt with the Giants, this week we're working on things to try to improve our team until we know who our opponent is, next week we'll work on our next opponent."
"There's no pressure on us to win it all," LB and captain Junior Seau maintained this week. "The pressure that we have is to win one game at a time and to be better in one game. That's the pressure that we have."
"What happened in the past, happened in the past," S Rodney Harrison said of his team's unblemished regular season record. "We really have to focus on the here and now. No one cares about the 16-0. No one cares about what we've done. It's about what we're going to do. We have to step up and make sure that we go out there and execute and do our jobs."
"Pressure is what you put on yourself," RB and captain Kevin Faulk said. "That's how I look at it. If you want to put that pressure on yourself, that's you, but at the same time, we are going out to try and win a football game."
Fellow running back Laurence Maroney echoed Faulk's sentiments.
"There's no pressure," he asserted. "We are just going to play Patriots football and just play our game."
For some, like DL Richard Seymour and CB Ellis Hobbs, the path to perfection has not been a long road of 16 wins. It's been 16 consecutive one-game winning streaks.
"All season, we've always done a good job of just taking it one game at a time and really not looking forward or at things that we've accomplished," Seymour insisted.
"As cliché as it is, but you never get too high or you never get down in the dumps and we could've been down in the dumps, even though we won some games but we didn't play as well as we would've liked. I just think now is a great opportunity to keep that same mentality."
"Every game is like 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0," added Hobbs. "So before you become 1-0, what are you? Zero and zero. This is the playoffs and it counts, in that this is it. That mentality is there as far as do-or-die situation now. You just play the games as if it's your last and everything will be fine. That's what we've been doing."
"Obviously, every season, the later you go into the season, the fewer games there are, the more important each game is," Belichick continued. "So when you get to the playoffs, every game is a one-game season. Every team is one game away from elimination. That's nothing new - that's the way it always is. We all know that. Every team in the playoffs knows that. It's the same for all of us."
Seymour may have summed up best the reason for his team's apparent calm approach to the pressure for perfection.
"It's an exciting time of the year," he observed. "This is the whole reason that you play this game — to have an opportunity [to win the Super Bowl], and that's what we have in front of us right now: an opportunity to do some great things."
Friday Practice Notebook
For the second straight day, the Patriots practiced inside their practice bubble behind Gillette Stadium. The team was in full pads once again.
Five players were absent from practice Thursday: TE Kyle Brady (who was active in Thursday's practice), FB Kyle Eckel, CB Ellis Hobbs, T Nick Kaczur, and CB Asante Samuel. Like yesterday, Eckel, Hobbs, Samuel, and Kaczur were all spotted in the locker room prior to practice.
On a positive note, DLTy Warren returned to practice after missing Thursday's session.