Tom Brady says 'little injury' to hand did worry him ahead of AFC title win despite his play

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When Tom Brady gashed his right thumb in practice four days ago, No. 12 required 12 stitches to repair the injury, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The New England Patriots' star quarterback immediately thought the worst.

"I thought, 'Of all the plays, my season can't end on a handoff in practice. I didn't come this far to end on a handoff,'" Brady said Sunday night after delivering a vintage comeback to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 in the AFC Championship Game.

Brady rallied from the injury and an 11-point deficit, adding another chapter in his storybook career. He played so well that he felt uncomfortable admitting the injury hindered him during the game.

"I think it kind of sounds arrogant to say, 'Oh, yeah, it bothered me,' when you have a pretty good game. So I won't say it," he said, smiling.

Brady used a Tiger Woods analogy, saying he didn't want to overdramatize the impact of the injury because it would've been like a young Woods saying he played his "C-game" and still won the tournament.

After practicing Friday with a red glove on his throwing hand, Brady shed the glove for the game and simply protected his right thumb with black tape.

Facing the league's top defense, Brady completed 26 of 38 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns -- both scoring passes to Danny Amendola in the fourth quarter. It was the 54th comeback win of his career.

Brady won his eighth AFC championship, hoping to add a sixth Super Bowl ring to his collection.

Coach Bill Belichick praised Brady's toughness, but he stopped short of calling it a miracle recovery.

"We're not talking about open-heart surgery," Belichick deadpanned.

After several days of thumb-related mystery, Brady shed some light on the injury, which occurred Wednesday in practice. He refused to say how many stitches it required, but he acknowledged there was concern.

"I never had anything like it," said Brady, who expects the stitches to be removed midweek. "I've had a couple of crazy injuries, but this was pretty crazy. I wasn't sure how I was going to do.

"Wednesday, Wednesday night, Thursday, I wasn't sure. Friday, gained a little confidence. Saturday, trying to figure out what we could do. Sunday, try to come out here and make it happen."

Amendola called Brady "the toughest guy I've ever met," but he said his close friend was "stressed out a bit. Physically, it's hard to throw with stitches in your thumb."

Brady called it "a little injury," but he acknowledged it was complicated for a quarterback because of its placement. He said he "wasn't sure what happened," but he reportedly collided with running back Rex Burkhead on a handoff.

"We ran into each other and my thumb just got bent back," Brady said on WEEI's "Kirk and Callahan Show" on Monday morning. "It wasn't his helmet or anything. It just kind of got bent back and that's why I thought it was a lot worse. The doctors checked it out and we did the things just to kind of check on everything. Fortunately there wasn't the damage that normally comes associated with that. I think we were very lucky."

"It's unbelievable what he does," Burkhead said. "The injuries he fights through and playing football at 40 years old is unreal. For him to do that and go out there and continue to make plays is unbelievable. It's why he's the greatest."

ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss contributed to this report.