FOXBOROUGH — Struck with a cold and donning a knit cap, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addressed the media Tuesday ahead of Saturday’s divisional playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.
It will be the quarterback’s 25th playoff game, and he’ll be looking for his 18th victory as a starter. His 17 wins already are the most in NFL history.
So, naturally, with a promising young quarterback in Andrew Luck leading the Colts, Brady was asked about the challenge of playing against a budding star’s team.
“I don’t necessarily approach it like that,” Brady said. “My motivation is pretty simple. I just try to win, that’s what I try to do and try to be part of the reason why we’re successful. That’s part of doing my job and trying to be the best I can be for the team.
“It really doesn’t have anything to do with anybody on the other team and their motivation might be. To be a professional athlete and to play at this high level with this level of competition, winning is the only thing that’s important. That’s one goal and one objective that I’ve had for a very long time.”
Brady was asked about linebacker Robert Mathis, the NFL’s regular-season leader in sacks with 19½, who has a long history playing against the Patriots and taking Brady down.
“I can’t really run away from him, so that option’s out the door,” Brady quipped. “You have to understand where he’s at. He really has a sense of urgency. It’s one thing to sack the quarterback. It’s another thing to strip-sack him and the ball’s flying all over the place.
“You have eliminate those types of plays. They’ve had a lot of those types of plays this year which have been a big benefit to their team where he runs the edge, the quarterback’s standing back there, here he comes and strip-sacks him. We just really can’t let that happen.
“That’s why he’s one of the best players in the league — because he makes those types of plays happen. He makes them on a regular basis, it’s not a fluke when he does it. That’s a trademark of their team and we have to try to stop one of their strengths, probably one of their best strengths and still go out there and be aggressive enough to move the football and get the ball in the end zone.”
One of Brady’s closest friends, Deion Branch, was signed by the Colts Monday, news that the quarterback welcomed.
“It’s nice to see guys get an opportunity, especially one of your great friends,” said Brady.
Branch won’t be the only former teammate Brady sees when Indianapolis comes to town.
Darius Butler, a 2009 second-round draft pick by the Patriots, will be lining up as one of the Colts’ starting cornerbacks after Greg Toler was placed on injured reserve.
Safety Sergio Brown, who played 26 games for New England, will be a backup in the Colts’ secondary.
And kicker Adam Vinatieri, who spent nine years with the Patriots and connected on game-winning field goals in two Super Bowls, will make his return to Gillette Stadium as well.
Brady remembers squaring off with Butler in practice quite well.
“He’s done a great job,” said Brady. “I always had a lot of respect for Darius and what he was able to do. He’s an incredible athlete. I’ve thrown him a lot of interceptions on the practice field.
“Hopefully I don’t throw him one this weekend.”Zuri Berry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @zuriberry.