Following last Sunday afternoon’s dominant playoff victory over the Chargers at Gillette Stadium, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady referenced those who may be doubting New England in an on-field postgame interview on CBS.
“I know, you know, everyone thinks we suck, and you know, we can’t win any games,” Brady said looking ahead to this week’s AFC title game against the Chiefs. “So, we’ll see. It’ll be fun.”
And while those comments came after a game in which the Patriots were the favorite, New England actually is the underdog in this Sunday evening’s game in Kansas City against the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
But when asked about the idea of embracing the underdog role in his Wednesday afternoon press conference, Brady was a bit more dismissive of what could be perceived as disrespect.
“I don’t think about it too much, what people might say or think,” Brady said. “I know we’re playing against a very good football team. They’re the first seed for a reason. They’ve had a great season and we’re going to have to go into a really tough environment and play our best football, so it’s a great opportunity for us and hopefully we can take advantage of it.”
A bit later in the press conference, Brady was essentially asked the very same question about being the underdog this week.
“It doesn’t change much for us, but it just kind of shows you what people think about what our chances are. That’s about it. No more added comment to that,” Brady said.
Does it provide any extra motivation?
“I mean, if you’re not motivated this week you’ve got a major problem,” Brady said. “This is the week where you shouldn’t have to put anything extra in. This is what it’s all about. You sign up any chance you get to play in the AFC Championship Game, so I don’t care where, when, time, cold weather, rain, blood. It don’t matter.”
Beyond Brady’s thoughts on New England’s rare underdog status this week, here are some of the other key takeaways from his midweek press conference.
Like a glove? – The weather in Kansas City for Sunday’s AFC title game has been arguably the most talked about story of the week. Forecasts have been fluid, but there is a very real chance that the game-time temperatures at Arrowhead Stadium could be in the single digits with a wind chill below zero.
Brady has often bragged over the years that he knows down the degree what to wear for optimum performance based on the conditions.
As such, Brady was asked what might go into the decision to wear one glove – on his left hand – or two?
“Obviously weather’s a factor anytime you play in January in these colder climates in Kansas City – obviously, a cold climate,” Brady said. “They’re used to it and we’ve been practicing in it for the last two months. It hasn’t been extreme cold, but it’s been cold enough to know what you’ve got to wear and how you’ve got to deal with it the best way you can. I’ve played in a lot of games over the years where weather’s a factor. You just dress for it and hopefully our blood has thickened up enough here being in the Northeast to deal with some of the cold, which I think it has. Even days like today, they’re cold and they do a good job preparing you. It’ll be colder Sunday than it’s been at any point this year, so have a little mental toughness, a little physical toughness and just deal with it the best you can.”
Family postseason affair – While Brady has postseason experience that dates back to the infancy of his Hall of Fame career in 2001, not everyone brings the same history to the big games that come in late January and February. Certainly that includes young teammates like impact Patriots rookies Sony Michel and J.C. Jackson.
But it also includes the unique situation that Brady deals with at home as his three children reach ages where they are more aware of their dad’s job and what goes into it. Things have changed a bit for the 41-year-old father compared to the fresh-faced young quarterback who led New England to championship glory nearly two decades ago.
“Absolutely different than when I was young and very little responsibility and now kids. It’s a lot of fun,” Brady said. “It’s great for me. My daughter is six. She’s a great cheerleader for us. My oldest son is into every play. My middle son is not into any play. It’s perfect. We get to talk about it on the way home. They’re understanding more and more but they’re still my kids, so they don’t care much about Dad. They’d rather hang with Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] and Jules [Julian Edelman] and all of those other guys.”
Sometimes, the G.O.A.T. even gets some advance from the young Bradys.
“My oldest son, Jack, does a little bit. He can analyze it pretty good,” the proud father said with a smile.
Road (fingers crossed) to the Super Bowl – So often over the years, the road to the Super Bowl has gone through Foxborough. This year, though, New England must take care of business on the road to get to the big game. Historically the Patriots have lost three straight AFC title games on the road – two in Denver and one in Indy – but more relevant is the fact that the team struggled away from Gillette this season, finishing with a 3-5 road record.
“I just look at those games individually and I know why we haven’t won those games individually,” Brady said of his team’s 2018 road struggles. “I don’t think it’s a broad, sweeping thing. It was a little bit in each game. I think the point of that is this is not the week to have less than our best. It’s a tough game. It’s a tough challenge. It’s tough to beat the number one seed on the road. That’s the reality, just like we’re tough to beat at home when we’re the number one seed. It takes a lot. It takes a lot of good football. It takes a great complementary game. All three phases have to be on point. We’re going against a team that scores a lot of points. They lead the league in sacks, strips-sacks. It’s a good group and I think everybody at every position has to play well. That’s what championship games are all about. These aren’t just handed to you on a silver platter and, ‘Here you go. Here’s your trip to the Super Bowl.’ You’ve got to go fight them out. We’ve been in a lot of games that come right down to the end.”