Some 12 hours after the Patriots' come-from-behind victory over the Saints, the first of two dramatic wins for Boston-based teams on Sunday night, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was posed the following question by Gerry Callahan on the "Dennis & Callahan Show" on WEEI:
How is your team 5-1 at this juncture of the season?
"That's a good question, Gerry, that's a really good question," he said.
"I think the expectation is for the players, and not the fact that you can use all the excuses that guys are hurt, we expected this thing to happen," he continued. "And a lot of teams have guys that are hurt, and a lot guys expect certain things to go their way and they don't. I think our team doesn't really take anything for granted and we try to put the work in every single week."
The win was the Patriots' third home victory of the season and knocked the Saints off from the ranks of the unbeatens.
Passing along some other soundbites from the interview.
On Kenbrell Thompkins' game-winning catch: "We called the play, we had all four guys going to the end zone. I kind of looked right, then looked left, and saw him just kind of sneaking back there. And just tried to put it out there where KT could have a chance and he caught it right in the back corner. That was pretty cool to be able to, you talk about those things all the time and situational football and last plays of the game. A lot of times we practice those plays, last play of the game from the 17-yard line and I'd say that was probably the first one we completed that I can remember, including practice. It happened at the right time."
On Austin Collie's final-drive contributions: "That was pretty cool for him to come in and play the way he needed to play. We're counting on him, and that's why he's here. He's a veteran player who's played in a lot of big games and who was really productive when he played for the Colts and he's getting his opportunity here and he's making the most of it. He has the confidence for the coaches to put him in the game really at the biggest point and made two huge plays."
On whether he feels differently as games come down to critical, clutch situations (much like Red Sox DH David Ortiz seems to seize the moment when it matters most): "I'm not sure. I think I probably don't think about that too much. It's obviously the situation [and] not just me, but all of our guys face. It's not, certainly, one player on the team that in football that can hit the home run to win the game, you know what I mean? That's not how football is played. On that drive, I threw to a lot of different guys who made a lot key catches, and I would say that catch to Julian [Edelman] on that first series was as big a play as we had all season. Cause without that play, you're really in the hole. And that's a really clutch play by Julian to make that, that's a really clutch play by Austin to make that fourth-down play and a clutch play by KT to make that catch. It's the whole team that's clutch. ... The best part for me was just looking in that huddle and realizing that every guy ready to do what it took to win."
On tight end Rob Gronkowski, who Brady reportedly told FOX broadcaster Troy Aikman looks like the best player in practice when he participates: "Gronk would be the best player on any team with what he's able to do. Just watching him in practice, yeah, I mean, he's doing great and his rehab is coming along well. Whenever he's ready, he's ready. I don't make those decisions, and of course every player wants guys to play. If someone says he can't play, he can't play, and that's what I said earlier last week, if he's out there, he's out there, if he's not, we've still got to find a way to win. I love Gronk and I love what he brings to our team and I know how badly he wants to be out there on the field."