Q: Does it ever get old to be honored by other players and coaches with a Pro Bowl selection?
TB: No, it's a very nice thing for your peers and coaches to name you to the team. We have a lot of guys joining us, so it's always pretty cool. We have other plans hopefully and we've got a big game this week. We could really put ourselves in a good position if we win it. It's a team we lost to before, and we've got to go out and play well.
Q: When you were in high school and college, did you ever see yourself passing 5,000 yards in a season?
TB: I mean, you don't think about it much. You don't think about touchdowns or yards. What I like to think about is our offensive production and if we're getting the ball in the end zone, if we're winning games, if we're building on our performance week to week, if we're getting better over the course of the season. I think those are the things that are probably most on my mind. Personal records and anything like that, really in a team sport to me, there's just not any emphasis on those. We're trying to win team awards. That's certainly what you subscribe to you when you become a member of a team.
Q: What frustrates you most thinking back to the Buffalo game earlier this year?
TB: We had some great opportunities. We had a pretty good lead there in the second quarter, and we turned the ball over before halftime and that really hurt us. I think they've really done a great job scoring points off turnovers and getting a bunch of turnovers. In a lot of their wins they get a lot of turnovers. They certainly take advantage of bad offensive football, which we played plenty of that in our first game. I think it was just a very frustrating day because we didn't really play to the level of our expectation and they took advantage of it. They have some very skilled players, guys that if you make a mistake, they're ready to capitalize, especially the guys in the secondary. Hopefully there's no repeat performance.
Q: When you have four interceptions like in that game, does that help you going forward? Because you haven't turned the ball over much in the second half of the season.
TB: I think as a team, we've done a much better job of that and that's very important to us winning games – the turnover margin, and we've been getting them on our defense and we haven't been giving it up much. When you turn the ball over four times in a game, it's damn near impossible to win; it really is, especially if you're not getting it from the other team. When you put yourself in a hole like that on the road against a team that can score points, you're going to have a pretty tough time winning. We found that out the hard way. As a quarterback, you're never going to stop pulling the trigger; you just have to make good decisions with the football. That's really what it comes down to – interceptions.
Q: What's it like for you to prepare this week knowing the offensive line might be a lot different potentially without Logan Mankins and Matt Light?
TB: The great part, honestly, is that I don't worry about it much. I really don't. It's not a concern. I think last week was just different because it happened so quickly. Just before the game, we realized that Matt wouldn't play and then, obviously, Logan getting injured. Not that I worry about it much then because I didn't, but we were just trying to scramble to figure out the positions that guys would play and so forth. This week, hopefully we have a better idea. Hopefully we don't have a similar type of situation. You like to be able to prepare the way that you're ultimately going to play and not really scramble around there at the 11th hour to try to get guys in certain positions. Hopefully we have a good week of practice. We need to have a good week of practice. Hopefully that will lead to a good performance on Sunday.
Q: What do you attribute the explosion in passing numbers to? Dan Marino's record stood for 20 years and now three guys could pass it this year. Is it execution? Is it that the whole model has changed?
TB: I'm not sure. Coach Belichick could probably speak to that more than I.
Q: He didn't.
TB: There's not much I could say if he can't say it. I have no idea. I really don't. For a quarterback, you try to throw to the open guy. You have guys who catch and run with the ball or the strength of your team may be passing it, but ultimately it's about production. It's not about passing yards or rushing yards or third-down percentage; it's about points – getting the ball in in the red area, converting in third down so you have an opportunity to get the ball in the red area, or having big plays. It all leads to the same thing. There are a lot of ways to get it done. You look at a lot of different offenses in the league and some teams run it, some teams throw it, some teams play action, some teams spread it out, some teams pack them in. It's just all the shape of your roster and the things you think you can do to take advantage of what you think the defense can't do.
Q: Has the fact that a play could morph during the play kind of expanded throughout the league to where that it's made it more difficult to defend? Now you have to read the play as it's going on.
TB: Sure. And it goes both ways though, too, because there are a lot of defensive plays that change after the snap as well. It's definitely a chess game out there. The safeties are trying to mess with the quarterback. The quarterback is trying to look off safeties. The linebackers are faking blitzes and they're screwing with the offensive line protection calls. That's why it's hard to execute really well for 60 minutes because if you're doing things that are working, they're going to adjust. If they adjust and then you don't adjust, then they're going to kind of stem what you're trying to do. It's just constantly trying to morph into something else – over the course of a game or over the course or over the course of a season. Because they're going to figure out the things you do well and try to stop those things.
Q: Can you talk about BenJarvus Green-Ellis a teammate?
TB: Benny has been here for his fourth year. He's a great person, he's a great teammate, works his tail off. He's a very good running back. He's very productive. He's very consistent and durable. He has a great attitude. He's kind of everything you look for in a running back. He's a fun guy to be around.
Q: Do you ever see what Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are doing and have a mutual admiration because it's a unique thing to have so many quarterbacks putting up so many yards?
TB: Yeah, well, not necessarily for yards or anything like that. Just more the way they handle the game, they manage the game, they make their reads, they make their throws, their technique. You're always trying to learn, I don't care if it's your 20th year or your first year, you're trying to grow as a player and become better each week as a player. You never want to see yourself regress, so you're always trying to learn and pick up new things. Certainly watching Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning – guys that I've watched year after year play at a very consistent level. You try to take some things from their game and use them in yours.
Q: There are some people that would find it hard to believe that a guy like you would take stuff from other quarterbacks. How often does that happen and does it happen?
TB: Yeah it certainly does. You watch the way that, like I said, they command their offense. Like I said, there are some things that they'll be able to do that I'll never be able to do. You accept those things and you try to still use what you have and your ability or your mental ability to be able to get your team in the end zone, because ultimately that's what it's about. It's not about your 40 speed or how far you can throw the football; it's about how well you can command the offense to move the ball down the field on a consistent basis to score more points than the other team. There are a lot of ways to do that.
Q: Has there been any communication between you guys or do you guys do your own things?
TB: No. We pretty much stick to ourselves. We don't give away the goods too easy.
Q: Can you talk about the opportunity that you guys have? With a win you clinch the top spot in the AFC.
TB: It's not something that we talk about it all. I think what we've talked about is trying to beat a Buffalo team that's coming here and always plays us tough and a team that beat us earlier in the year. We're not thinking about anything beyond this weekend. I keep saying that every week. I know you guys probably think I'm full of crap, but it's a very short-term focused team. We just try to stay focused on the present and that's trying to have good practices and ultimately be prepared for our game on Sunday.