Tom Brady is preparing for his 16th postseason run with the Patriots. And somehow, despite the preparation for the playoffs being an annual thing for him, Brady still feels the same excitement heading into January football.
“It’s just naturally a level of intensity that you can’t really emulate at any other point in the season and really for us, any other point in our life,” Brady told reporters Thursday. “We all work hard to get to this point and to have an opportunity like we have, I don’t think you take them for granted.”
Brady’s played in 37 playoff games, literally more than two extra seasons worth of football. He holds the record for playoff touchdowns passes (71) and passing yards (10,226) by a wide margin.
However, as his team balances rest and relaxation during its bye week ahead of the divisional round, Brady doesn’t focus on the moments that help him lift the Lombardi Trophy. Instead, this time is meant for realizing where his teams have come up short during his 19-year career.
“There’s been so many plays that I’ve seen in my career that had we not made that one play, which could be just an extra effort, could be an arm tackle, could be just one extra push of the pile that ends up being the difference in an entire game and really, an entire season. That’s what it’s all about,” Brady said. “It’s great when it comes out for us and I think you just try to express that I don’t think you can compete any less than what you’re ultimately capable of competing at. That level, that’s intense and it’s every play and it’s just, you max out. You can’t leave everything behind. You’ve just got give everything you’ve got.”
At age 41, Brady had one of his least-productive seasons in 2018. His touchdown percentage (5.1 percent) is his lowest since 2013, while his interception percentage (1.9 percent) is his highest since 2011.
Regardless, none of that will matter when New England takes the field as the No. 2 seed in the AFC next weekend. And that No. 12 on Brady’s jersey still strikes fear into opposing defense.
“It’s an entirely new season and we’ve earned the chance to be at this moment and we’ve got to take advantage of it,” Brady said. “Our story’s still being written and fortunately, we have an opportunity to write it.”
New England will play the highest remaining seed after the following wild-card matchups: No. 3 Texans vs. No. 6 Colts, No. 4 Ravens vs. No. 5 Chargers.