FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quarterback Tom Brady is the unquestioned leader of the New England Patriots' offense, and, as he showed Wednesday, he is the team's tone-setter in the locker room as well.
In the wake of Sunday's heartbreaking loss to the Indianapolis Colts, players returned to work as a team for the first time Wednesday and it was only natural to wonder what type of hangover might linger in the locker room.
More than ever, Brady seems willing to step up in trying times like these. He is like a human dose of Tylenol to help ease the team's pain, speaking with a been-here-before perspective that sets an example for others to follow.
"I think it's tough; you lose those games and emotionally you're pretty drained. It's disappointing for everybody, but the reality is that there are a lot of games left for us. We all understand that," Brady said before setting the stage for the team to rally around head coach Bill Belichick, whose fourth-down decision has drawn widespread criticism.
"When you lose, people place the blame in certain areas. We all know in here that it's not one thing to blame; we all could do things better. It's unfair in a group of 53 players and however many coaches we have that one person gets the blame. The reality is it's everybody.
"We all share in the disappointment and frustration. We have to get better, we have to move forward. We've lost games around here before. Tough games. You have to be professional and go forward."
In his longer-than-normal news conference held in front of his locker Wednesday, Brady carefully balanced looking back at the Colts loss with looking ahead to a tough AFC East game against the visiting New York Jets.
When the questions focused too much on looking back, he simply ended it.
"You still want to talk about the Colts?" Brady asked one reporter politely but decisively. "We want to talk about the Jets."
When the questioner persisted, focusing on details from the Colts loss, Brady said simply: "We're really concerned about the Jets. The Colts game, that's not going to help us at all anymore."
Brady was asked how Belichick addressed the team in regard to the Colts game, and he said it was business as usual with the coach pointing out errors and areas that need improvement.
"There was no welcome back, no hugs in the locker room or anything like that," Brady said. "It's a long season. We've lost plenty of games here, more than I care to remember. You have to show back up the next day and put just as much effort as you did the previous week. ... You have tough losses, but you can't dwell too much on the losses. You have to understand it happened, there is nothing you can do about it, and you have to go on."
Brady wasn't the only leader to have his voice heard Wednesday, as 40-year-old Junior Seau talked about how players needed to have a short-term memory in good times and bad.
"You can't rehearse it," Seau said. "One thing we're going to preach here and now is that what's in the past is in the past. We have challenges every day. Today's challenge is basically to be the best team we can be today to get ready for the game."
It's times like these when the leadership of players such as Brady and Seau is particularly noticeable. It wasn't that they were pretending the Colts loss didn't happen; it was more about them putting the result in its proper perspective.
"We learned a lot from the Jets when we lost, we learned a lot from Denver, and we're going to learn a lot from this [Colts] game," Brady said. "We have seven games [left] and this is the biggest one of the year.
"We're playing the Jets. It's always a good week for us. It's the best way to get over a loss, to come back to work. I think everybody's excited to be in here."