Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addresses the media during his locker room press conference at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, November 23, 2010.
Q: What is the biggest challenge of a short week like this?
TB: Well, I think it has its physical challenges and its mental challenges. We got after it pretty good yesterday. No one is really sure what day it is around here. It doesn't feel like a Tuesday, I'll tell you that. But as football players, we adjust. We do what we've got to do. We put a lot of installation in and try to understand what they do well and what they don't do so well and try to go out there and execute well on game day.
Q: Now that you're throwing the ball 24-26 times a game versus 40-45 times, is that preferable to you, considering the results?
TB: I think every game is different. Obviously having balance in what we're trying to do is very important because we're able to run the ball. When we're able to run it, that sets up our play action and it sets up a lot of things we're doing. Running the ball...anyone who has ever played this game knows that you run it until they can stop it. You can control the tempo of the game running the ball and I think that's what we've done a good job of the last couple of weeks.
Q: In the past few years, it's kind of seemed more like lip service to the idea of establishing the run, but then you're icing your arm down after the third quarter. Is it nice to see that you've been able to do that this year and what are the reasons for that?
TB: Why we've been able to run the ball this year? It always comes down to we're just doing our job better, I guess. The tight ends like Rob [Gronkowski] and Alge [Crumple] are two dominating blockers. That helps a lot when you have two tight ends who can set the edge like that. Add Logan [Mankins] and Kope [Dan Koppen] and [Dan] Connelly to Seabass [Sebastian Vollmer] and [Matt] Light and you've got a very good group of run-blocking offensive linemen.
Q: And BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a decisive runner?
TB: Benny's been running great. Benny sees the whole, he hits it. There's not a lot of...he's got really good vision. It's not like we're looking to run every play outside and run around the corner.
Q: What do you see from Ndamukong Suh and the defensive line? Everybody has talked about him as a likely defensive rookie of the year?
TB: He's a big guy. I think he is very powerful, gets into the pocket, plays with a good motor. He's tough. He's going to be a good player for a long time. They've got a couple other guys who are really good, too: [Kyle] Vanden Bosch. Corey Williams is a good player. And then their other end, who's been out - 92 [Cliff Avril] is a hell of a player, too. That's a big strength of theirs - the way they can get after the passer. The way they can stop the run. A good group of linebackers. It's a very good defense.
Q: Do you have memories of watching Thanksgiving Day games as a kid?
TB: We all do, don't we? That was always a great day. We used to have our own football game on Thanksgiving Day in the neighborhood and then usually [it was] always at our house and my mom would cook. Yeah, great memories of sitting around watching football all day.
Q: Going back to your time at Michigan, where you are returning to play Detroit, how much did that experience prepare you for the NFL and help you be what you are?
TB: It was incredible. It was a great school. The academics were great. It was a great school. It was a very well-rounded school. It's always had a great tradition and playing for Michigan was...I'm so glad I chose to go there. I think it was very rewarding for me. I had so many great friends and coaches over the years. It's a very tough football program and I think our head coach, Lloyd Carr really demanded the best out of us every day in practice, very much along the lines of what Coach Belichick does. That taught me about competition and what it means to be a leader. That was always a big thing we talked about at Michigan was our leadership and our effort and our toughness. That definitely prepared me for playing for Coach Belichick. It's a great school and it's always fun going back there and seeing a lot of my old friends.
Q: Do you think you could play in that offense now?
TB: Hell, no.
Q: You'd get hit a lot.
TB: Yeah. I'm the slowest guy out there on the field, so...yeah, it's a little different watching them now. Whatever it takes to beat Ohio State, not that we've done that very often lately, but hopefully it's our year.
Q: Do you hold off all thoughts of Thanksgiving until after the game?
TB: Yeah, you have to. We'll have a little break coming up after thanksgiving, so whatever is going on we can kind of put if off for a few more days. There's one thing on our mind and that's getting ready to play a good football team in a game that they have always played pretty well in. The crowd will be amped up and ready to go and we're going to have to go out and play really well. I'm excited to see what this team can do on a short week and show what kind of toughness we have - what kind of mental toughness we have and go out there and play a damn good team.
Q: Is it in some ways good to be on a short week after two big wins and people starting to put you atop the power rankings? Is it good that you don't have any time to think about what you did against Pittsburgh and Indianapolis after that Cleveland loss since you have to think about the Lions?
TB: I think we will just adjust. Whatever they say we're going to play, we're going to play. I don't think that's the reason why we lost to Cleveland. I think the reason we lost to Cleveland is because we didn't play well. The reason why we beat Pittsburgh is because we played well and the reason why we beat Indy is we played well. The reason we are going to win or lose this game is because we play well or we don't play well. Since that game ended on Sunday night, all of our focus and energy has been on this game. We came in Monday and we didn't even talk about the Colts. We talked about the Lions and what we need to do to beat them. We talked about coming in and having a good day today, so we crammed a lot of information into these two days. I think the game plan is really getting formulated still, but we're going to see how it goes on Thursday. I think that's the point where we're going to see how it all comes together and really how much commitment we have to being ready to go on a short week.
Q: So in your estimation, this team has really never suffered from psychological letdowns, no matter how big the win?
TB: Coach Belichick is our coach. He doesn't...psychological letdowns...he was on us all week. It always comes down to that nothing we did last week is going to help us this week, other than learning from mistakes. We've got to put everything into this week. It's a totally different opponent, a very different style of team and we've got to understand the things that they do well and try to go out there and execute well against them.
Q: What do you remember about that 20-12 2002 Thanksgiving Day game? What stands out to you?
TB: It was a very inconsistent day on offense. Tedy [Bruschi] had an interception return for a touchdown. I hit Troy Brown on a late third down that helped the game, but other than that we didn't do much offensively. You've got to get up ready [and] early. It's an early game, earlier than we normally play, and it's about 48 hours away so we've got to really get excited for the game and understand what we're going into.
Q: Do you have an appreciation for what Devin McCourty has done as a rookie cornerback this year?
TB: Sure, and Dev has done a good job and I think he has shown he's very professional. He's a very mature young man and he has really taken his role. He's improved consistently and he's very dependable, so that's a good start to a career and there is a lot more that goes into it than one season or half a season. Football season hasn't even started yet, I keep telling you guys. We aren't even half the team that hopefully we're going to be at some point here in the next five, six weeks.