By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
December 26, 2004

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- What a difference just one week can make.

Following Monday night's loss to the Miami Dolphins when New England squandered an 11-point lead with under four minutes to play, there was certainly enough doom and gloom. For some teams, the 29-28 loss the Patriots endured on Monday night could have turned the tide of the season.

As for Patriot quarterback Tom Brady, his four interception performance in that game had been fresh in his mind all week. He didn't need to hear all the criticism and frustration that had been said or written, he had already beaten himself up enough. When he took the field on Sunday it was time to do exactly what he needed to do, and that was to go out and put it behind him.

And that's exactly what he did.

Brady threw two touchdown passes and finished 21-of-32 for 264 yards passing with a quarterback rating of 112.0 during New England's 23-7 victory over the New York Jets at the Meadowlands on Sunday. Brady's solid outing was exactly the type of perfomance he and his teammates needed, as the win clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons for New England.

"It was a long week," said Brady after Sunday's game. "Everyone who knows me and everyone who's been so supportive knows how tough those weeks are."

"I swear I didn't turn on the TV one time. I didn't turn on the computer once, I didn't look at a newspaper. I just tried to take myself out of it and really focus on what I needed to do this week."

Brady admitted to reporters that he never watched any replays from Monday's game. It wasn't until mere hours before the game when Brady was sitting in his hotel room that he had to relive the interception he threw in the fourth quarter which lead to the Miami go ahead touchdown which eventually ended up being the difference in the game.

"The first time I saw it was today watching HBO," said Brady. "I swear I just was flipping through the channels and it was our game and it was like a play before that play happened. I just said, "Oh man, why do I gotta see this three hours before I'm playing?'

"I mean I knew I made a stupid play. Everyone knows I made a stupid play."

However, at no point will one bad play by Brady ever put any doubt into the mind of head coach Bill Belichick. After all, Brady has twice helped lead his team to a Super Bowl victory, and his coach will be the first to admit he knows exactly the type of player he has in his quarterback.

"Tom's one of our best and most consistent football players," said Belichick. "I have tremendous confidence in Tom to play as our quarterback. There isn't anybody else I would want any more than him.

"I think that Tom's going to be ready to play and go out there and try and play his best every week. That's all you can ask of a player."

Needless to say as usual Brady did what he has always done coming off of a bad performance. He played another mistake-free football game. Heading into the game everyone in the New England locker room knew what was on the line, and it ended up being just the type of performance the team needed heading into the final week of the season.

"We knew what was at stake," said Brady. "Coach Belichick, the first thing he said this week when he walked in, he said "I'm going to cut right to it. We win, we get a bye.' He usually doesn't say stuff like that. He kept the heat on all week and he really let us know what we were playing for.

"It's a great opportunity to come back [and for] this team to show what we're made of," said Brady. "As a player that's why you play. It's the thrill of victory and it's the agony of defeat, and we suffered a tough one last week. This week, in that locker room, it's an elated group of guys."

With another postseason berth and a first round bye in their future, the Patriots find themselves exactly where they want to be. All season they have somehow overcome injuries and adversity, Brady is simply proud to be a part of it.

"It's a team with a lot of mental toughness," Brady said of the guys in the locker room. "[It's a team] that battles, and a team that has strong character. Anytime you have that, you're going to be awfully proud of yourself at the end of the day.

"At 12:00 when we had our meeting today, everyone said, 'At 7:00, that's going to tell us what this team's all about', and everyone feels pretty good about what happened."


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