FOXBORO, Mass. — With the regular season in the books and the playoffs on the horizon, Tom Brady was asked Thursday what separates this year’s New England Patriots team from the ones he’s played on in the past.
The hallmark of the 2018 Pats, the 41-year-old quarterback said, is their resilience.
“Every team has its own unique identity, and this team cares a lot about each other,” Brady said. “We play for each other, and we?re playing to win. I think that?s what we?re here for. We?ve shown we can compete. We?ve shown we could overcome some adversity. We?ve been counted out a few times and showed back up with a lot of resolve. We have great character on this team.”
The Patriots lost consecutive games in Weeks 2 and 3 and again in Weeks 14 and 15. Their 11-5 record this season was their worst since 2009, when they famously were blown out by the Baltimore Ravens at home in the wild-card round.
Back-to-back wins over the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets allowed the Patriots to close out the regular season on a high note, however, and helped them secure a first-round playoff bye for the ninth consecutive season.
Even after the most uneven season since that forgettable ’09 campaign, Brady & Co. once again find themselves just one home victory away from what would be their eighth consecutive AFC Championship Game appearance.
“Our story?s still being written, and fortunately, we have an opportunity to write it,” Brady said. “We?ve got to go out there and play our best. Every team we play next week — and beyond, hopefully — is a great team. They?ve earned it. The team we play will have played a playoff game, and we?re going to have to play our best game of the year.”
The Patriots will host the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens or Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday afternoon in the AFC Divisional Round, depending on the results of this weekend’s wild-card games.