FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One prevalent theme during Wednesday's media access at Gillette Stadium was how much veteran players have learned to savor the playoff experience, many noting that you never know if you'll get another opportunity to simply compete for a Super Bowl crown. Here's a sampling of their thoughts on the second season:
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
Brady expressed excitement at being one of just 12 teams still playing this season and, while talking about his last playoff experience, a loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, he found a silver lining for the Patriots' 2009 squad.
"I think that one always sticks with us," said Brady. "I think the thing you take from it in a positive way, is that [the Giants] were a team that didn’t look like they had as good a chance as other teams to advance that far, as a [fifth] seed... I think that really means any team is alive, whether it’s the six-seed Ravens or the three-seed Patriots, or going right up and down the list. It’s really pretty cool to be in this position and to have the opportunity to play here in the playoffs. There are only 12 teams playing this week and a lot of teams’ seasons are ended and guys are home and we still have the good fortune to still be playing, so I think you have to try to take advantage of that opportunity."
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis
Speaking of Super Bowls against the Giants, Lewis noted that, eight years removed from his team's triumph over the G-Men in Super Bowl XXXV, he's learned to enjoy postseason football.
"I think we just have to -- and this is something that we talk about -- enjoy the ride. It’s just football. It doesn’t change, it’s just football. Nobody is asking us to go build a rocket, or go fly to the moon. No, we are just going out there to play football. Football doesn’t change and that is the beauty of the way us guys understand it. We went to the AFC Championship last year and we lost it. But guess what? We are back in it again for another opportunity to go back and all you can ask for is an opportunity, and that what we want, just an opportunity. Bottom line is if you can get that opportunity, grab the moment man, don’t let everybody push you away with ‘There’s so much pressure. What if this, what if that?’ Forget about the what ifs and just go have fun and play football and that’s what we’re focusing on. Wherever we end up, that’s where we end up."
Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas
After the Patriots went 11-5 last year, only to be shut out from the postseason, Thomas noted that you have to play like you might never get another chance in the playoffs.
“You never know when you’ll ever get a chance to do it again," said Thomas. "It’s amazing that you kind of take it for granted when you go for the first five years of your career then you can take it for granted. But then you have some guys that have never been and they’ve been in the league six or seven years and this is their first time going to the playoffs, then it becomes a humbling experience. You definitely have to take advantage of the opportunity whenever you have the chance to go out there and play in the playoffs. It’s win or go home.... A lot of people are at home. You get the opportunity to go back out there and play one more time, so you have to be excited about that.”