Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his locker room press conference at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, November 17, 2010.
Q: Did you learn a little bit about this offense and how productive it can be if you really come together like you did against the Steelers?
TB: I don't think it was perfect out there.
Q: But you scored a lot of points.
TB: Yeah, we had an interception returned for a touchdown. We had some short fields on the onside kicks. There are certainly things that I think we need to do better - that we're going to need to do better this week. We had plenty of missed opportunities in that game. We certainly made more plays than we've been making, but at the same time, [while] our level of consistency continues to improve, I think it's got to continue to improve.
Q: You've always said that the Colts defense does things differently than any other defense with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Does it start with them?
TB: It sure does. It sure does. I've had a lot of sleepless nights with those two guys on the other side of the ball. They're tremendous players. They're as good of pass rushers as you'll face in the league. And they have two guys on opposite sides of the ball; it's not like you can really help on one guy and not help on the other. So, it really limits what you do as an offense because you have to worry so much about making sure they don't run around the corner and kill you every play. We've really got our work cut out for us this week on that.
Q: With the history with this team, are you happy that you and Peyton Manning have been able to face off as many times as you have and that the two teams have been able to play as much as they have?
TB: He's a great competitor. I love watching him. I mean, he's been a great quarterback for a long time so I think whenever I'm watching film of other opponents that we're playing, I'm always looking for Colts games because I want to see how he's playing. We've had plenty of those games this year. It's been a great rivalry for a lot of reasons. We've played so many meaningful games against them and I would say this one is pretty meaningful, too. It's going to be a great test for us. They're good in all phases. You can't afford to make a lot of mistakes against this team because they really capitalize and if you give them a short field, you turn it over, and then next thing you know it's seven points. And then you turn it over and now it's 14 points. I've watched plenty of Colts games where the game is over at halftime, so we're going to have to really be conscious of that [and] protect the ball. When we get into the red area, get the ball in the end zone, try to go out and make a bunch of plays.
Q: What do you like best about this rivalry?
TB: They're a great team. I think whenever you have the opportunity to play teams that have been as good as they have been over the years, it's always a great challenge for us. You kind of look at them and say, 'Ok, well, how do we measure up against a really good team?' We've certainly played some other really good teams this year [but] that have their own style of defense that you really can't duplicate. You can't duplicate it in practice. You can't simulate the speed of those two edge rushers and the other great players that they have on their defense from [Gary] Brackett to [Antoine] Bethea to some really young corners that are really good players. They've got a great group.
Q: Do you get more pumped up playing Peyton Manning?
TB: I don't think so. I mean, I don't have to really play against him. Playing against that Colts defense over the years has always been a great challenge, so I'm always pretty excited about that, just because of the significance of these games. They always seem to mean something. Both teams have proven to be pretty consistent over the years. Peyton is as consistent as there is at the quarterback position. Our defense has a challenge to try to stop them, to try and stop that offense. It's a great offense.
Q: Do you wish you had just one season where you didn't have to play these guys? It seems like you play them year after year.
TB: Yeah, we've played them a bunch. When I first started here, they were a division opponent so we had them twice a year. Since then it seems like we just play them every year, sometimes twice a year there as well in the playoffs. So we have a lot of familiarity with them, even though they're not a division opponent as opposed to a team like Cleveland a few weeks ago that we don't play very often. You look at last year's notes, and they kind of look the same with players and scouting reports and all the different things that they do well and things that we've got to try to exploit. There's a lot of familiarity.
Q: How much have you thought about fourth-and-two from last year? How much do you think about it?
TB: I haven't thought about it at all since probably that game, since that night, as a matter of fact. I think when it comes down to those situations - it could happen this weekend - I'm always confident that we're going to be able to make the play. Our coach has always had a lot of faith in what we do offensively, the way the offensive line protects, the way the receivers get open. And he's gone for it a bunch on fourth down this year, so if it comes down to it again, I wouldn't expect anything different.
Q: How do Deion Branch, Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead function so well given their heights?
TB: They've got big hearts, I'll say that. What they lack for in size, they certainly make up for in competitiveness and determination and their work ethic. All three of them have probably been underdogs, but they all play their best is the biggest games. I think you can certainly say that for Deion and Wes. Woody, we're still getting to know him, but he's proven what he can do this season.
Q: Do they get a hard time in the locker room for their size?
TB: No. No, they could probably share a lot of the same clothes. They're not sharing clothes with Vince Wilfork or anything like that, but they could probably pass on each other's sweatshirts to each other.
Q: Peyton was saying when he plays against you, he knows they have to score a lot of points. Do you feel the same way playing against them?
TB: Certainly. Certainly. It's not going to be a 7-3 game. I wouldn't think it would be, just because you know they have offensive fire power. We've proven we can move the ball against these guys, and I think they don't mind giving up yards; they don't want to give up points. They don't want to give up touchdowns. It's a little bit of a bend-don't-break defense. They're just expecting you at some point to make a mistake and let one of those ends fly around the corner and strip the ball or force you into making a bad throw where they intercept it. Yeah, when you play the Colts, you know you're going to have to be at your best. They're not going to give you anything. They make it hard on you every play.
Q: When you're playing him, do you find yourself watching him from the sidelines?
TB: Not any more than normal, I would say. I love watching him play, there's no doubt about that. Like I said, there's a lot of things that he does that I wish I could do, so I'm always trying to evaluate what he's doing and how he's doing it. but during the game, I'm pretty much focused on what we're doing offensively.
Q: Your first NFL start was against these guys. What do you remember from that day, how nervous were you, and what was going through your mind?
TB: I was pretty nervous. That was a great day. They came in undefeated. I think we had lost a couple games. We were 1-1 at that time I think and they were 3-0. It was a windy, cold, blustery day in Foxborough and we played a great game. That's kind of what you need to do against these guys. Our defense really set the tone that day and we scored quite a few points that day. Maybe the wind will kick up a little bit on Sunday afternoon and get a little colder for them.
Q: You guys have had a lot of injuries this year and you have a lot of guys out like Kevin Faulk. Do you, personally, have to change anything you do when guys are out and different guys are in there than the ones you're used to playing with?
TB: You miss certain guys like that. Certainly, Kevin Faulk - you don't replace Kevin Faulk. What he has done, how clutch he is as a performer...and the other guys that come into that position, if they've been around Kevin they know how Kevin does things and they have their own style, but you're also doing it within the style of the offense. I don't change a whole lot of what I do. I'm still trying to make accurate throws and make accurate reads. If I get certain matchups, I take advantage of those. Every play that is out there we have a lot of confidence in or else coach wouldn't have them on the team, so I have a lot of confidence that they'll be able to make the plays.
Q: What's your favorite game or the most memorable one that you have against the Colts?
TB: Probably the first one - the first one. That was the old stadium. You'll never forget the first time you started a game in the NFL. I remember meeting Peyton before the game, I was surprised he knew me, as a matter of fact. He said, 'Hi Tom. I'm Peyton,' as he was out there warming up, which I thought was pretty cool.
Q: What does the MVP award that you won three years ago represent to you?
TB: You know, I don't know. I don't think about it much, to tell you the truth. It typically goes to a quarterback. It's not really an MVP; it's like the most valuable quarterback or offensive skills player. That's what it comes down to, because there are a lot of great defensive players and certainly very valuable players to their teams. I know coach gave us some stats this summer about MVPs in all the various sports and it's been a long time since an MVP's team has won the Super Bowl. For one reason or another, it has never really translated into team success. I think ultimately, that's what this game is about. When you subscribe to a team game, you subscribe to the team goals and that's trying to win a Super Bowl.