New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Monday morning the team has already turned the page from their playoff victory over the Denver Broncos and started preparation for the Baltimore Ravens, whom he called "the best team we've faced all year."
"There's no one that's going to overlook a team like that. It would be impossible to do,” Brady said in his weekly interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. “They present a ton of challenges in all three phases of the game. You watch them yesterday, they're physical, they're tough, they can cover. They've got some of the best players in the history of the NFL at their position, in (Terrell) Suggs and Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata. You've got phenomenal players there.
“We've really got our work cut out for us. We'll be excited about the challenge. We'll use the week to prepare like we always do, and really try to be at our best -- hopefully be better than we were this past Saturday night."
It’ll be tough for Brady and the Patriots to top their effort on Saturday night, when they thrashed the Denver Broncos 45-10, dominating in every phase of the game. Of course, they need only to look back to the 2009 season to remember what can happen when a team comes out flat. The Baltimore Ravens came into Gillette Stadium in the wild card round of the playoffs and embarrassed the Patriots, 33-14.
Brady said Monday getting revenge from that loss wasn’t what would be driving him this week. Getting back to the Super Bowl for the fifth time in his career is motivation enough.
“This is nothing about ’09 or ’10. This is nothing about last week or last season or last month or 10 years ago. It’s about this week,” Brady said. "The clock’s ticking. And every second that goes by, we’re one second closer to getting to that game. We’ve got to use our time wisely, to repair, get our rest, and be ready to go out and face our biggest challenge of the season.”
The possibility of the Patriots’ season ending Sunday makes every minute of preparation that much more important, and mistakes on gameday are equally heightened.
"The focus obviously heightens (in the playoffs), the awareness heightens,” Brady said "It's playoff football. Because you realize that if you throw an interception, if you fumble the ball, if you misread a coverage, that could be your season. It's not like in the regular season where you go, 'Oh, that's OK, we'll get them next week.' No, there's no next week. So, everything has to be right. And you try to make everything right. And when you make mistakes, you've got to say, 'OK, I made a mistake, I'm not going to make another one.' I thought our team really did a good job of that the other night.
"It's just really that time of year. You don't make any excuses for your mistakes. You just try to play as best as you can. And you try to prepare yourself as well as you can, and you go out there and you see what it looks like."
One of the biggest storylines of the week will be whether Ravens safety Reed will be able to suit up Sunday. Reed is one of the best defensive backs in the NFL and someone Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick have expressed their respect for time and again. Reed, whose interception in the end zone Sunday sealed the Baltimore victory over the Houston Texans, sprained his ankle on the play. After the game, Reed said he’ll be OK for Sunday’s matchup against at Gillette Stadium.
"I'll get treatment and I'll be ready to go," Reed said. Brady would expect nothing less.
“I love Ed Reed. If I could be a defensive player, I’d be Ed Reed -- or Ray Lewis -- between those two guys,” Brady told WEEI. “We’ve got guys that are getting banged up, too. I’m sure Ed will be there. This game means everything to our season. If he has any chance of playing, which I’m sure he’s got a chance of playing, he’s going to be there. And he’ll be playing good. I can promise you that."