Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his postgame press conference on Sunday, Januray 2, 2011.
Q: Does it feel good to be 14-2?
TB: It's good, man. We talked about it all week. We'd hate to come out here and not finish the season the way we all expected to. We got off to a good start. Devin [McCourty] made an interception on I think it was third down, got the ball in the end zone. A lot of guys really stepped in and made some big plays: Taylor Price and Brandon [Tate] and [Julian Edelman], with Wes [Welker] and Deion [Branch] not playing - Aaron Hernandez - all those other guys really stepped up, so it was great to see.
Q: When you came out of the game the first time, did you know that you were going to go back in?
TB: Yeah, coach had told me that last night [that] we were going to substitute like that for situations. I'd rather not be third-and-12 when I go back in, but it was just the way it ended up being.
Q: What is it like to see a guy like BenJarvus Green-Ellis hit a 1,000 yards?
TB: It's great. That's really a great accomplishment. I think the durability of that running back position and to rush the way that our offense has been rushing lately, it's been great. We've played some really stout defenses lately, especially in the AFC East. The Dolphins are a great run defense and the Jets are tough. These 3-4 defenses are tough to run against, whether it was the Steelers or Green Bay was a good defense, so we've played a bunch of great defenses. So, I think there's really been a strong commitment over the course of the season to make yards in the run game and keep things balanced and use our run to set up play action. It's definitely been a huge threat. Benny should be pretty proud; it's pretty cool for him.
Q: While you're 0-0, how much can you appreciate what you've accomplished so far?
TB: Well, I think we've had a good year. We've put ourselves in a real good position. Really, none of it matters at this point other than I think... The greatest advantage we have is that we don't have to play next week and we play at home the following week. So, that's really what we've earned to this point. I don't think we've earned anything more than that. Hopefully we'll go out here in a couple weeks and play well. I think that's what we would love to do.
Q: Do you go into the playoffs this year feeling differently about the running game than you did last year? And if so, how does that help you?
TB: Sure. Look today, the weather was an anomaly out there. That's not usually the way it is in Foxborough in January. Our playoff games have always been cold, windy, snowy, tough conditions. So, you've got to be able to be a tough, physical football team and that always starts with the running game, both running the ball and stopping the run. And if you want to be a tough, physical team, you can control the tempo of the game rushing. At times we've really done that this year. That's been hugely important to our success. We haven't had to drop back 50 times a game and it takes a lot of pressure off the passing game when you can hand it off and gain yards on a consistent basis.
Q: McCourty's interception that put the ball in your hands for the first time, is that something of a tone-setter for you?
TB: It's a great spark anytime you get a turnover like that on the first drive of the game. We were able to get the ball in the end zone, too, and capitalize on it. We've been getting great field positions from our defense quite a bit this season, so it was good. We had a big third-down play that [Danny Woodhead] made on the direct snap to him. [Rob Gronkowski] had a good touchdown, a nice touchdown reception. So, yeah, I mean, to kick the ball to them, [have] them turn it over and then go down and score seven points was definitely the way to start the game.
Q: Can you talk about the spark that Julian Edelman gave you today and what does that do for his confidence?
TB: Well, Julian's a young player. So, I think with any young player there are always ups and downs over the course of the year and he's always been a very confident player. I think he's really, when the ball's in his hands, he's very dangerous. He's a great run-after-catch type receiver. He just hasn't had as many opportunities this year with Wes being out there for the whole season, basically. Today was the first time Wes hasn't played, so Julien became much more of a factor in the offense.
Q: How about his return?
TB: Great return. That was a huge play before half time. To go up 24-0 at half, that gave him a lot of confidence. He made some big plays in there on another touchdown drive that we had. I think the second touchdown drive where I threw him a quick look pass out there and then he made someone miss. Then he caught the ball on the fake reverse and ran it down to the 1-yard line. So, he had a hell of a game.
Q: Were your more determined to not throw an interception today, in your final game of the regular season and to go into the playoffs with your streak in tact?
TB: I wasn't thinking about it much to tell you the truth. I've been very fortunate over the course of this season that the [opposing] defense has dropped the ball. They could catch it, you know? But [then] they'd be playing offense. That's why they're defensive players. I'm just trying to make good reads and good throws. Guys have done a hell of a job catching the ball in traffic. The offense line has been protecting. I think we've really been playing with the lead a bunch, too, so you don't really have to force the ball into those situations. Interceptions pretty much ruin my night, and I'm glad tonight, my night is not ruined.
Q: Do you have to turn on the competitiveness in a game like this, with everything locked up?
TB: No. I think when you're standing in a huddle and you're looking at 10 other guys who are really determined to do their job, it's my job to bring the energy and enthusiasm, whether it's Wednesday practice [or] whether it's [an] offseason conditioning program run. If it's dominos in there playing those fat offensive lineman, I have to beat those guys. I don't think it ever gets turned off. I just think you want to win, so that's always the goal. Don't tell them I said they were fat. They're strong.
Q: What is the most important thing for a young player to know about how football changes from the regular season to the postseason?
TB: Well, you play the best teams so the margin of error is much slimmer. When you play a team that turns the ball over a lot and gives up short fields, you love playing those teams. Those usually aren't the teams that are in the playoffs because they've got the best records and have been playing well all year. So, I think we can't afford to go out there and turn it over [or take] a bunch of penalties and play dumb football. I think we have to go out there and play smart football and not turn it over and not penalize ourselves, stuff we've really done this season. That's going to lead to more success if we can do it.