Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his postgame press conference at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, January 10, 2010.
Q: Can you put into perspective what this loss means to you as a player and to this franchise?
TB: Well, you know, we didn't play well. If you don't play well against a good team, I don't think it's anything more than that. To put it in terms of our franchise or anything like that - I think it was one game where we didn't play particularly well and obviously got off to a terrible start in the first quarter and never really could get back in the game. It's just the way it is when you get in the playoffs and you play some good teams. We just made way too many mistakes.
Q: Was that first quarter of play the worst quarter you've seen this team play since you got here?
TB: I don't know. I don't know where to rank them. I mean, you're not going to be able to win the game if you play like that in the first quarter and you can't overcome it. We just couldn't do it. It was certainly not the way we expected to play the game. We had a lot of confidence coming into the game; we just didn't get it done.
Q: Did the fact that the fans booed multiple times bother you?
TB: I'd have been booing us too, the way we played. That's their right. We just didn't play well and you've got to give those guys a lot of credit. They played well in all phases and really took it to us.
Q: All year, you didn't really have a solid third receiver. How much did it hurt you to have to rely so heavily on Randy Moss and Wes Welker and Julian Edelman, and kind of Kevin Faulk?
TB: All those guys worked hard. We just kept trying to find different ways to make it work and the guys that were in there today all worked really hard: Sam [Aiken] and Julian [Edelman] - the improvement that both those guys made over the course of the year - and Randy, how important he is to this team. It certainly wasn't a lack of hard work on everybody's part. I think we obviously have a long way to go this offseason as a team. Playing the way we played today, we're not going to beat anybody, [much] less a good football team. It was kind of just the way the season went. There were some ups and downs and this season we just came up short in the end.
Q: Defensively, did they do anything to surprise you?
TB: No. I think we just made some mistakes and they really capitalized on it and that's what good defenses do. They've had a good defense for a long time, so that's what they did.
Q: You talked about all the different ways you tried to find to make the offense work. Do you think this was the most challenging season for you in that sense?
TB: I think every year presents different challenges and this one had its own set. I think we all...the mental toughness that we need to have to overcome whatever comes up - I think that's going to be something we all need to improve on next year. [For] all the players and coaches, it's very disappointing to lose like this and to really not put our best effort out there. I think we tried, but in terms of execution, it really wasn't our best effort. It's going to make for a long offseason and that's how it should be. I think we've always found ways to compete through January and we'd love to get back to kind of that winning way next season.
Q: Now that the season is over, can you share with us what injuries you've been playing with.
TB: You know. I think we all deal with injuries. We really do. There's not a guy in that locker room who's not banged up, and we all just fight through it and that's part of playing football. It's really a physical game. To see Aiken go down today and hurt himself like that. I mean, that's scary stuff. I'm able to walk off the field - something I didn't do last year - and I think that's really a blessing for all of us, as players. We all deal with things that bother us during the week, but in the end, we're still out there playing.
Q: Do you have broken ribs?
TB: Like I said, I don't want to get in to all of that. Whatever it is, we've got to all overcome it. Certainly it didn't keep me from playing, whatever my injuries were.
Q: You and Coach Bill Belichick have both fielded a lot of questions about the future and where you go from here. Do you think it's too early to be talking about the foundation of the franchise? Was it just a tough game or a bad season?
TB: Well, we were the third seed in the AFC coming into the game and we lost some games here in the second half throughout the season that we all felt we should have won. We just didn't make the plays when we needed them during the second half. It's not like we were 2-14 - we're not at that stage - it's just there were things that showed up over the course of the year that we didn't do very well. I reflect a lot on what I need to do as a quarterback and I need to have a great offseason and certainly play at my highest level next year. I think that's really what the team counts on from me and that's really what I count on from myself. At times, all of us played to our level, and at certain other times, we didn't. Today, none of us played very good.
Q: You didn't go to Randy Moss that much this game. Is there a reason for that?
TB: They had a couple guys on him most of the day, so they were really...coverage was there a lot and they know where he's at and they did a pretty good job covering him.
Q: Going back to the injuries, is it fair to say you entered the season shaking off the dust from an injury and you ended it battling others?
TB: You know, I think all those...I was able to play 16 games. I think that's something I love to do because that's the only way a quarterback can display toughness - is to be out there. We don't hit anybody, we don't block, we don't do that stuff, and I want the team to be able to rely on me and count on me, whether it's in practice or the games. Like I said, a guy like Wes [Welker] is going to have certainly a long offseason and he's going to come back and need to find ways to get into the rhythm. I don't know. I just think injuries are a bunch of BS. I just think when you play, you play, and if you can't play, you can't play. But when you're out there playing, you've got to play at the level that the team expects you to play.
Q: Can you explain the feeling of suddenly, it's over?
TB: Sure, and coach always says - he said it a couple years ago and he said it this offseason - you're on a treadmill for four, five, six months, and then all of a sudden you hit that stop button. It's always a week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, to get over the season and to really get back to work on the next season. I think that's something that we're all...it's a disappointing loss and it takes time to get over and you've just got to understand why you lose games and you kind of get into the whole trends of the season and things that we need to improve on. It's always fun when you start working toward next season.
Q: I know it didn't work out for you today, but how proud are you that many people consider this team the team of the decade?
TB: Well, that's for another press conference. This was a really tough loss for us, and we've had some good teams, obviously, over the years. This one, I felt we did a lot of good things and wish we would have played better today, but we didn't. Like I said, we've got to give the Ravens a lot of credit. We wish them luck and they've got a lot of good players and they really earned it and that's what it takes.
Q: Do you still have one game left in you? Will you play in the Pro Bowl?
TB: We'll have to see. We have our exit physicals tomorrow, so we'll see what comes up.
Q: Some of your teammates said the Ravens wanted it more. Do you think there's any truth to that?
TB: Well, I hope not. I hope not. I didn't feel that way coming in. I certainly don't...I just speak for myself, and I wanted to win this game more than anything and I know a lot of the guys on offense did, too. Wanting it or not wanting it, I think we wanted to play better. And if we would have played better we would have a lot better opportunity to win and move on, and we didn't.
Q: That being said, were you stunned by the way the way the first quarter unfolded?
TB: Yeah, you know, we just put ourselves way behind the eight ball. [There were] just too many turnovers. They become too tough to overcome in the end.
Q: Do you feel like this team got away from the way Patriots teams used to be? It seems like this never would have happened with the other teams you've been on.
TB: There are some things that we didn't do well over the course of the year and I think the things we didn't do well today - a lot of [reasons] of why we've been successful and mental toughness and leadership and discipline and commitment and all those things that we displayed at times and certainly didn't display at other times. I think that's something that we all reflect on and individually, that's what we have to make more of a commitment to each other. I think [for the] guys that are going to be here next year - the 2010 version of the team - it's going to be something we can learn from this year. But I mean, we lost a lot of games in the second half and that's very uncharacteristic and that's something that's very disappointing. To be up 13 points a couple times - I mean, that's almost embarrassing. We've got to find ways to make the plays when we really need to make them. I think that always comes from hard work and like I said, the mental toughness, and ultimately, getting it done in practice. We've all got to do a better job of that next year.
Q: You keep referencing the second half failures this season. Is it kind of ironic that today it was the rough start to the first half that really hurt you?
TB: We got out to a lot of fast starts this year, and today we just didn't. The strip sack was [Terrell] Suggs - he makes a nice play and they get an interception and another interception. It's just...you can't turn the ball over like that and expect to win.
Q: How much did you miss Wes Welker out there today?
TB: I don't know.
Q: Do you think there were more guys on this year's team versus in the past that just didn't buy in?
TB: I don't know. The guys worked hard. Coach Belichick sat up here every day and challenged us and at times we played really well this year. Jacksonville we played great. Tennessee we played great. We played great some halves, it's just that we've got to play well for long periods and long stretches. We never really had a long winning streak or anything like that where we built a lot of confidence. It was kind of two steps forward and one step back. You can't be a great team if that's the way it's going to be. Like I said, we just came up short.
Q: You're going to hear outside the locker room that this is the end of an era and the decade is over. Would you say to that that you can see this team could even get better again?
TB: Sure. Hell yeah, I think that. I mean, we have Mr. [Robert] Kraft [and] what he's been able to do for the franchise and Coach Belichick who is probably the greatest coach of all time and some great core leaders that we still have. We've got a lot of youth that are really good players and work hard. I certainly don't think because we lose a couple of games this year that all of a sudden everything is over. I'd love to see what we can do next year and the following year and the following year. I think, fortunately, we get to go out there and play again next year, and a lot of guys probably won't have that opportunity. But the guys that will have that opportunity will certainly want to take better advantage of it than we did today.
Q: Do you have any idea why you guys had trouble making adjustments in the second half this year, when you hadn't had trouble doing that in the past?
TB: We just had a different team this year. We had a different team that had different strengths and different weakness and obviously that second half performance was something that we didn't do very well consistently over the year. You're not going to win the amount of games you want to win if you can't close the games out to control the fourth quarter like we have. None of those teams, really, in the past, can do a whole lot for this team this year. What we established this year was the work we put in and it's going to be a lot like next year. It's disappointing for all of us; there's no doubt about that. Part of it is mental toughness and moving forward and saying, 'This year didn't turn out the way we wanted it to and next year we're going to make it a hell of a lot better.'
Q: Do you think mental toughness was the team's biggest problem this season?
TB: I don't know. I don't think there is one sweeping statement. We had a lot of problems over the course of the year. Consistency in practice, consistency in the games - those were all something we were looking for, something we talked about and was a point of emphasis from our coach. Overcoming adversities and overcoming injuries or calls or bad bounces - I mean, that's just the way football is. I'd say at times we did it, and at other times we didn't.