Q: How excited are you to get another playoff run under your belt here?
TB: This is a good time of year. Everyone’s excited to be out there and it’s just a great environment for football, great team. It’s a great matchup so hopefully we play our best game.
Q: What makes this team, this year, different from the last couple of years?
TB: I’m not sure. This is a unique team. It’s not going to be the same next year. Just going to have to make the best of it.
Q: When you think about past matchups with Philip Rivers, what stands out to you from those games over the years?
TB: He’s a great player and they’ve had a lot of great teams in San Diego over the years led by him. He’s just a great passer, tough, very accurate. He’s a great leader so when I think about that team, it’s just – he’s an emotional leader and he always gets those guys going. They always have a good offense. It’s a good team. Obviously, they’re good in all three phases and they’ve won a lot of games this year, gone on the road a bunch so they’re very mentally tough and it’s going to take our best to win.
Q: Do you feel the competition level go up when you’re facing a player like Philip Rivers because he fights until the very last snap?
TB: Yeah, he does. They’ve been behind a few times this year too and they keep fighting and they’re back in it. Down 14 to KC [Kansas City] with four minutes left. They were down a bunch to the Steelers and you just can’t count them out. Like I said, they play well, together as a team as a complementary unit, kind of what we try to do. They’re really well-coached and it’s a great challenge. It’ll be a fun game.
Q: Teams that have had success against you guys in the postseason have gotten pressure off the edge. How concerned are you with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa there and is there an extra emphasis on those guys?
TB: Yeah, they’re great players and any time you’ve got two pass-rushers, it makes it tough to stop for an offense because you give attention to one guy, the other guy’s got kind of a free pass. So it’s tough and I think that’s why they’re one of the best defenses in the league because they’ve got guys that rush and any time you can play that style, the ball comes out faster than an offense would like it to. I think those guys really play hard on defense. They have a good interior rush, obviously a good edge rush, very instinctive players in the secondary, very good safeties, good corners. It’s a very good defense.
Q: You and Philip Rivers have set the record for being the two oldest quarterbacks in a postseason game.
TB: Nice. Nice and old.
Q: You’re a combined 78 years and 198 days old. It actually breaks a record that you and Peyton Manning had. What’s your reaction to setting another age record?
TB: That’s a pretty good one right there. That’s pretty cool. It’s just fun to be around – I’m out there today practicing and it’s whatever degrees out – 10 degrees, 15 degrees and I’m sitting here just playing with my friends, throwing the football around. I think it’s just a great blessing to be able to do it and do it here for this team, which I’ve loved to do. Philip [River]’s been on the same team – it means a lot. We all work hard to get to this point. These things aren’t guaranteed, very tough to get to this point in the season. Every team four months ago thought they’d be playing in these games. The reality is, that’s not the way the NFL is, so we’re very fortunate and we’ve got to go out and try to take advantage of it.
Q: How do you ease the emotions of players going through their first playoff game this weekend?
TB: Coach [Bill Belichick] does a great job preparing all the younger players. The veterans kind of know what to expect but Coach has different ways of kind of letting those guys know what it’s going to be like and what they should expect. There’s obviously more emotion and energy. There’s more attention and these are big games. But you play the game to be in these moments and have these opportunities and to give your team a chance to advance. So hopefully we go out and play our best game of the year.
Q: The Chargers use a lot of defensive backs on the field. Do you enjoy that challenge of going up against so many defensive backs and trying to find the open man?
TB: Yeah, they’re good pass-players and I think that any time you get a lot of DBs out there on the field, you’ve got to be cognizant because they cover more ground than some bigger linebackers. They’ve had some injuries at linebacker this year and I think they like playing with those guys anyway. They’re good players. They’re very instinctive. They obviously know what they’re doing. I think any time you go into the game they had last week, you don’t know if that’s going be your last game of the year, you put your best out there and they obviously went with what they thought was best, putting a lot of DBs on the field. We’ve talked about a lot of different scenarios and we’re prepared. It’s a big challenge either way. I think they’re a very good defense, very good scheme, very good players, very well-coached. They don’t give you anything easy so we’re going to have to go out and earn it.
Q: What’s your confidence in the state of the offense and where things are right now?
TB: This is the time of year we’ve got to go out and be at our best. It all comes down to this. It’s a production-based league and regardless of what’s happened to this point, it’s about winning this game. If you don’t play great, really in all three phases – any time you play good teams, you can’t expect one phase of your team to carry you. It’s got to be a great complementary game. We’re playing against a team that’s played as well as any team all season. We want to go out and play well as an offense. Our defense has to play well. We have to play well in the kicking game. Everybody’s kind of at the point of attack.
Q: Where’s that line between where like you said, you’re at practice throwing the ball around with your friends to having to have that intensity come Sunday?
TB: It’s always pretty intense. Again, you feel the emotion. The energy’s a little bit different these weeks and we’ve been preparing hard the last two weeks. This was our last day of practice today, get a little rest tomorrow and kind of fine-tune some things and then get out there on Sunday and try to play a great game.
Q: Can you talk about your relationship with Rob Gronkowski and how it’s evolved from 2011 to now? You seem to be closer now.
TB: Yeah, we’ve always had great communication because offensive players see each other a lot and I’ve been in a lot of meetings with Rob over the years, a lot of practices, games, biggest moments. I just love to see how he’s developed as a player, as a person, teammate, friend, everything. He’s just a great player. He’s been just a great player for this organization and I can’t say enough good things about him.
Q: What is the advantage you guys have with the cold weather on Sunday?
TB: I just think the ability to practice in it like today. It’s very similar to what we’re going to get on Sunday so just knowing again, how many layers you’ve got to put on and how you’re going to feel. We didn’t have the nice, warm heated benches out there like we will on Sunday. It’s cold and that’s just part of this time of year. But it’s good to be playing when it’s cold out. It’s good to be playing this time of year in Foxborough. The weather changed a little bit yesterday. It snowed at the start and then got sunny and then got cloudy, then got windy, then got sunny and it’s just a bunch of different things. Just to practice in it, we’re prepared for it and hopefully we can use some of the things we’ve learned to our advantage.
Q: Can you scheme things into a game-plan to slow Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram down over the course of the week?
TB: I think you just can’t make it an all pass game. You’ve got to be able to stay balanced. I don’t think you can just let them tee off on you all day. I think part of being a great offense is making them defend everything and that’s run game, pass game, short passes, long passes, quick passes. We’ve got a lot of different schemes and so forth; we always have. But hopefully we can play well at the start, get ahead, play on our terms. It’s a great way to play the game, especially when you play guys who really are great rushing the quarterback.
Q: Would you like to take the ball if you guys win the coin toss?
TB: That’s not my decision.
Q: Do you have to remind your teammates that it’s still just a football game and you have to go out there and have fun and don’t want to get too stiff?
TB: Yeah, I think it’s still just a game we’ve played our whole lives. It’s not anything different than that. Once the ball’s kicked off, it’s one game and like I said, regardless of anything that’s happened this year, it is one game. From the kickoff on is what’s going to determine who moves on. It doesn’t matter if you’re 16-0 or 10-6. We both have the same chances and it’s whoever plays the best game. Again, it’s a football game so this isn’t warfare. This is a football game. We’re going to go try to play as well as we can.
Q: What’s your process for figuring out what you’re going to wear for cold temperatures this time of year?
TB: I’ve had a lot of practices here, probably a couple thousand, so I just know what to do, know what to wear. It’s a good part of being experienced. The more you do your job, the better chance you have to adjust to whatever’s out there and again, I’ve been doing it for a long time. Hopefully we go out and play well.