Tom Brady had a chip on his shoulder after the Patriots’ dominating 41-28 victory over the Chargers in their AFC divisional playoff game Sunday.
Brady was instrumental in the win, passing for 343 yards and a touchdown. But immediately after the game, he shrugged off a question about next Sunday’s AFC championship game against the Chiefs, telling a CBS reporter, “Everybody thinks we suck and can’t win any games. We’ll see.”
Really, that’s Brady, a five-time Super Bowl champion and three-time NFL MVP, embracing the role of underdog. Even at age 41, Brady’s stats this season were comparable to numbers he put up in his prime; his yards per game, yards per pass attempt and completion percentage were all higher than his career average. But on the rare occasions when Brady did stumble, some critics chalked it up to his age, and used that as a excuse to say the Patriots dynasty is finished.
When asked how it felt to prove those critics wrong, Brady paused and then said, “I just like winning. I just like winning.”
Despite their dominating victory over the Chargers, and a win earlier this season in Foxborough against the Chiefs, the Patriots are 3-point underdogs entering next Sunday’s AFC championship game. It’s only the seventh time in Bill Belichick’s reign in New England the team has been an underdog in the postseason. The Pats are 3-3 in those games.
Brady isn’t the only Patriot who has proudly adopted the underdog theme.
“Tom said it, so I can comment on it. Yeah, everybody does think we suck. Everybody thinks we don’t have enough,” wide receiver Phillip Dorsett said (via ESPN). “But the only thing that matters is what we think in this room and we believe. When you have a whole group of guys that believes, it can be a special thing. So we have to keep playing, keep going hard.”