Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New England Patriots [Print without images]

Sunday, December 2, 2012
Brady: A long way from Super Bowl

By Mike Rodak

It wasn't the best game for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who posted a 74.8 quarterback rating in Sunday's 23-16 win over the Miami Dolphins, but Brady still was able to celebrate his team's fourth consecutive division title.

"It was great. We're 5-0 in the division, so that's a pretty good mark against some teams that have always played us tough," Brady said.

Brady echoed the thoughts of his head coach, Bill Belichick, who noted after the game that there is still a quarter of the season left to be played.

"I think we're a long ways from (thinking about the Super Bowl)," Brady said. "You can't play in that game without improving through the month of December. And November, December, that's when it's really important. I think we've done that. We keep working hard. We listen to our coaching. We've won some great games here the past six weeks."

From an offensive line dealing with multiple injuries to tight end Rob Gronkowski being sidelined with a broken arm to receiver Julian Edelman leaving Sunday's game with a foot injury, the offensive ranks have been thinned, but Brady and the Patriots are on a six-game winning streak.

"This is when the best teams really start to separate themselves. Your depth is challenged, your mental toughness is challenged, fighting through the bumps and bruises of a long season is a challenge, and getting contributions from a lot of people is a challenge," Brady said. "That's what you need this time of year. You need to continue to get better and better and better, and string games together, string practices together, so when you need it the most, you've got it in the bank."

One of Brady's offensive weapons who is available -- receiver Wes Welker -- was targeted 18 times on Sunday and finished with 12 catches for 103 yards.

Like his quarterback, Welker wasn't looking to celebrate the accomplishment of winning the division just yet.

"It means something," Welker said. "I guess you kind of get spoiled at times. It's kind of just another hat and T-shirt, but they're definitely not easy to come by."

Tight end Daniel Fells, who has all but assumed the role in the offense vacated by Gronkowski, had similar thoughts.

"It's one of those things that you've just got to keep moving forward," Fells said. "The season's not over yet, we've got some tough opponents coming up. We've got to get ready for that."

The first of those tough opponents, the Houston Texans, will travel to New England next Monday night with an 11-1 record.

It will be the next reminder for the Patriots that they have bigger goals left to accomplish this season.

"We're -- what is this, Week 12? (it's actually Week 13) -- we've still got a long ways to go," Welker said.