QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
Q: Marcus Mariota is nearly the same age coming into this game as you were back during your first postseason in 2001. Given all the experience you've acquired since then, what advice would you give yourself back then if you had the chance to talk to the younger you before a big playoff game?
TB: These are fun games to play in. Everyone has worked pretty hard to get to this point. There's only eight teams playing this weekend, so it doesn't matter if you're young or old. It's a great feeling to be in this place. I know we're excited. We've had a good week and we've just got to go out there and try to play our best.
Q: Is there a different version of Coach [Bill] Belichick in the playoffs than there is in the regular season?
TB: I think what makes him so great is that he's so consistent, just in his approach and week to week. I think you get to these points, you start doing things different and you've got to think, 'Man, why were we doing those things all year if these are the things that are working?' We've done a good job of just sticking to what we've kind of done all season. The tough part is there's a finality to all these games. You've got to earn it if you're going to move on. You've got to earn it if you're going to practice again next week. We've got to go out there and play well. We're playing a team that's been playing well, plays well in all three phases, puts a lot of pressure on you. They're well coached, so we're going to have to do the same.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the play Marcus Mariota made last week where he caught his own pass for a touchdown at Kansas City?
TB: Yeah, that was pretty cool. I mean, it's crazy plays like that; the things that you obviously wouldn't expect. This time of year anything can happen and any play can really decide the fate of the season. Everyone's got to be on the same page and you've got to make whatever effort you can to try to help your team move the ball down the field and score points.
Q: What is a young player like Marcus Mariota going through as a quarterback in this position, and do you think your experience trumps the youth a player like him has?
TB: I think it just comes down to how well you play. At the end of the day, it's not about old guys are going to win or young guys are going to win, the home team, the road team. It's really going to come down to execution. No one's going to be able to do it for you. You're out there, you're in the positon to succeed. Your coaches have put a lot on you. The team's really relying on you. You've got to go out there and make the plays. You've got to make the tackles, you've got to make the throws, the catches, the blocks, the runs, whatever it takes. Whoever does that better is going to win the game over the course of 60 minutes. Again, all these plays matter, so we've got to go out there and make sure every one counts.
Q: Has the negative coverage surrounding the team been a distraction for you this week?
TB: Not to us players. We do what we always do. We show up to work and try to do the best we can do. We know there's a lot at stake and I think everyone's put a lot into it. It doesn't really matter what happened outside of this facility and what we're trying to accomplish. It's a big task to go out and win a playoff game. We're playing against a good team, Divisional round, and I'm glad we earned the chance to be here to do it and we've just got to go take care of business.
Q: Does it impress you that over the years this team has been able to block out all the noise and let your play on the field do your talking?
TB: Well, I think we have a job to do and we know what our job is and that's to go out and play football at a high level and play well. Nothing really should get in the way of that. That's what we're getting paid for, so to be a professional is to put everything aside and go out there and do the best you can for the team and try and help us win.
Q: Why are you making this documentary and what do you hope viewers will get out of it?
TB: That's a good question. This is about Tennessee. We're two days from the biggest game of the year.
Q: But the trailer just came out. I'm just wondering why you're doing it and what message you're trying to convey?
TB: We'll see. We'll see after the Tennessee game.
Q: What do you think about Tennessee's defense and the way they played in the second half versus Kansas City?
TB: They're good. They're good at all levels. They've got veteran players at all levels. They take advantage of bad football. They've got a lot of interceptions in the secondary. They rush, they cover well. I think it's a good group. They've got a great coordinator. He's been coaching a long time, so they'll be prepared for us. Ultimately, it's got to just be about us trying to go out there and trying to execute against a team that's already won a playoff game?
Q: What has it meant to have the contributions of Rob Gronkowski coming down the stretch of the season and how important is it to have him for the playoffs?
TB: Rob's a great player. He's a big focal point for our offense and I think he does a great job in the run game, pass game, short, intermediate, deep. I think he's been a great player since the day he got here. They've got to really cover him. We've got to force them to cover him. Everyone's going to have to make plays. Whoever that ball is going to, we have to be able to make the plays. If they take Gronk away, we've got to go to other guys. If Gronk's open, he might get it. Other guys might get it if we hand it off. There's only so many plays. You don't want to come off the field and go, 'Man, I wish we would've had that one back. We have to go out there and everyone's going to have to do the best they can to do what their job is on a particular play. Again, if it's to throw it to the open guy, whoever is open is going to get it. That's how we have to go about it.
Q: How much has your excitement for the postseason grown over the past 18 years?
TB: Well, I don't think you take it for granted. Like I said, it's hard to get to this point. You do all the meetings, and walkthroughs, and March, April, May, June try to workout and be prepared for the season, and you get through it and you make it through a whole season and have a chance to compete with everything at stake. It's pretty cool for all of us. I'm sure everyone will be excited for Saturday night. It's going to be a great experience. I know the fans will be into it. We'll be into it. Hopefully, we can go out and play well.
Q: How much of an advantage is it for you to have this game at home?
TB: Well, again, I think it's going to be about how we play and not necessarily where we're playing. We've actually, probably, played better on the road at times this year than at home. I think crowd plays a factor into the games with the communication and hopefully we can take advantage of that. We've done a good job playing at home. We're out to do a great job this week against a very good team in the biggest game of the year.