New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on Monday morning that the upcoming Super Bowl XLVI matchup against the New York Giants "sets up for a great rematch" of the Week 9 contest between the teams, which was won by the Giants at Gillette Stadium 24-20.
Left unsaid was the fact that the game is also a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, which was won by the Giants to spoil what would have been a perfect 19-0 season for New England.
"I still can't watch highlights from that game," Brady said Monday on Boston sports radio station WEEI of the previous Super Bowl between the teams. "I think that's just the way it is. You get to the end and we had a great opportunity there and really squandered it because we didn't play our very best."
Brady struggled against the Ravens on Sunday, throwing two interceptions, no touchdowns and posting his worst passer rating of the season (57.5). He acknowledged his poor play in postgame comments and said Monday morning he expects "the best game I've ever played" against the Giants.
"Just as the Denver game [the week before] had no impact on yesterday's game, this game [against the Ravens] will have no impact on the game two weeks from now," Brady told WEEI. "I'm going to work as hard as I can these next two weeks to be prepared and to hopefully go out there and play my best game, hopefully the best game I've ever played. That's what I expect to do. I know that's what my teammates expect of me."
In the Week 9 meeting between the teams, Brady threw two interceptions and lost a fumble, accounting for three of the team's four turnovers on the day.
"The Giants have a very good defense," Brady said Monday. "They have guys that can cover, one of the best pass rushes that you'll face in the league. Very physical in the linebackers. They tackle well. It's a very good defense. We didn't score a lot of points against them last time. The turnovers hurt us last game. I think we had four turnovers last game. You're not going to beat the Giants turning the ball over four times."
The Patriots had three turnovers Sunday against the Ravens. Teams with at least that many giveaways had lost their last 22 playoff games prior to Sunday. The last such team to win before Sunday was the Patriots in the 2007 AFC Championship Game against the Chargers.
"We've really escaped the last few weeks turning the ball over," Brady said. "It's one stat, losing the turnover battle pretty much correlates to losing."
The Giants are actually the last team to have beaten the Patriots. Since losing that game, the Patriots have reeled off 10 straight victories. In addition to forcing four turnovers, New York held New England to a season-low 20 points in that contest.
"We'll certainly look at that game, several times," Brady said of the Week 9 matchup. "You see matchups, you see how your guys match up against their guys, route-running and blocking and so forth. It will have absolutely zero impact on the game, but at the same time hopefully we can learn some lessons from that game. ...
"It was a great game and sets up for a great rematch between two teams, really, who have earned the right to represent their conferences in the Super Bowl. It's a great feeling for all of us players.
"Not that I've ever taken for granted being there, because I certainly haven't, but you really realize how hard it is to get there, even when you have great teams, like a lot of teams this year, whether it's Baltimore or Green Bay or the Saints, or San Francisco. Everyone has had great seasons but there are only a few teams that can play in this game."
Brady also said there is a galvanizing force at work with this Patriots team, which has dedicated the season to Myra Kraft, the late wife of owner Robert Kraft who died in July.
"She's with us every step of the way," Brady said. "We wear those [MHK] patches on our jersey and the painting that was commissioned by our team as a present for Mr. Kraft, sits in the locker room on game day. I'm sure it will be there on Super Bowl Sunday, too. It's a reminder for us what a special season this is for the owner of our team and his family, and all the people who loved Mrs. Kraft so much. There is plenty of spirituality in our locker room. It's really a great reflection for all of us to have that patch on our jersey. Hopefully we go out and represent her well."