FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The last time the Patriots hosted the Houston Texans, they used rackets during practice to simulate the length and height of defensive end J.J. Watt, who has been a force at batting down passes near the line of scrimmage this season.
The results were largely positive, as the Patriots kept Watt without a sack, tackle for loss and a pass defensed in the same game for the first (and only) time this season.
As it turns out, the rackets will be back at practice this week, according to quarterback Tom Brady.
"More of the same," he told reporters during his Wednesday press conference at Gillette Stadium. "It gets frustrating at times, but I think it's a very good thing that coach does, and (he) just subliminally gets it in my head of (Watt's) ability, and their ability as a defense to defend passes at the line of scrimmage. Teams try to do (that) every week, but they get them every week, so that's a big difference."
Containing Watt will be a key for the Patriots in their effort to advance to the AFC Championship Game. With a win, Brady would surpass Joe Montana for the NFL's all-time lead in playoff wins among quarterbacks with 17.
Brady was asked whether he was even aware that such an accomplishment was within reach this weekend.
"With that question I guess I'm aware of it," he said with a laugh. "I've been fortunate to play with so many great players and great teams. Football is a team game, and I've been fortunate to play here and have the opportunity, there's no place I'd rather be."
A record-setting win would build on a legacy that was in some ways formed with a victory in Super Bowl XXXVI, when Brady was just a second-year player in the NFL.
"That was some kid," Brady said of himself in Super Bowl XXXVI. "You really don’t quite understand what has happened until you try so many times and you don't get to accomplish those things."
Brady was 10-0 in his first 10 playoff games but is just 6-6 in his past 12.
He said that playing in the playoffs against a tough opponent brings out the best in players and teams.
"It's very hard to win that final game of the year," he added. "We've had a chance and lost a few; it's hard to win this game. The best teams bring out the best in the players, they bring out the best in the teams."