Tom Brady: If refs want to throw flag against defense, it helps Pats

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tom Brady reacted mostly with indifference Wednesday when asked about comments from Denver Broncos defenders Antonio Smith and Malik Jackson in which they said the New England Patriots quarterback complains to referees more than any player in the NFL.

Brady was also asked if he works referees more than other players.

"I'm not sure what the other quarterbacks do," Brady said before the team's first practice in advance of Sunday's AFC Championship game in Denver. "If the refs want to throw the flag, I love when they throw flags on the defenders, absolutely. It advances our team. That's just part of football."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick also dismissed the comments.

"We're focused on the Denver Broncos in the game. All the rest of it is a bunch of hot air," he said.

The New York Daily News and New York Post used Smith's remarks as a springboard to put Brady on their back covers Wednesday, with the Daily News referring to him as "CryBrady" and the New York Post calling him "Tom Baby."

Asked how his conversations with referees go, Brady joked, "I don't remember much of them. I've taken a lot of hits over the years."

When asked if he cared to comment on the New York tabloids, Brady said he didn't, noting he hadn't seen them.

Meanwhile, Brady and Belichick shared their respect for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

Brady cited Manning's consistency, durability and ability to "always come through" for his team as three things that stand out to him.

"He's an incredible player, an incredible leader for his team," Brady said. "He's a great passer. He's so accurate, throws on time, knows where everybody on the field is, offensively and defensively. He knows how to look defenders off and put the ball in the right location so those guys can catch and run with it. I think he's just a great pocket passer."

"There is no player off our team that I have any more respect for than Peyton Manning," added Belichick. "His preparation, his consistency, his skills; I would never, ever, ever underestimate him under any circumstance."

When Brady was asked about the historical value of his rivalry with Manning, he said he wouldn't compare it to any rivalries from the past, such as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson from the NBA.

"I think playing someone 17 times is pretty cool," he acknowledged. "Especially someone as great as him; to play against those Peyton Manning-led teams, you know you have to play 60 minutes and you're going to be in for a tough game."