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Saturday, August 17, 2013
Tom Brady: Hardest loss was XLII

By Field Yates
Special to ESPNBoston.com

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said in an interview that losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII was the most difficult loss of his illustrious career.

"The hardest loss, I would say, is when we lost to you guys in '07," Brady told Fox Sports 1 analyst -- and former Giant -- Michael Strahan in an interview that aired Saturday. "That was just like, whether that will ever be duplicated again, I don't know. But the stars aligned for us on that year. I mean, just an incredible season, the players that we had that all came together, Randy Moss and Wes [Welker], Kevin Faulk, Laurence [Maroney], we had great offensive linemen.

BradyThe hardest loss, I would say, is when we lost to you guys in '07. That was just like, whether that will ever be duplicated again, I don't know. But the stars aligned for us on that year. I mean, just an incredible season, the players that we had that all came together, Randy Moss and Wes [Welker], Kevin Faulk, Laurence [Maroney], we had great offensive linemen.

-- Tom Brady

"And then, the way we were winning those games was incredible. Blowing good teams out. We beat you guys, you guys played a great game. We beat the Super Bowl champs."

The loss put an end to a perfect season for the Patriots, who cruised to a 16-0 regular season behind one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history, with Brady setting a new record for touchdown passes in a single season with 50 and later earning league MVP honors.

Just one NFL team has ever finished a season undefeated, the 1972 Miami Dolphins, a feat that Brady suspects will be difficult to achieve again in the future.

"Especially in the salary cap era, where there's teams that -- it's hard to keep a team together, because the more you win, the higher your guys are going to get paid," he said.

Brady assisted his current team out this offseason by agreeing to a three-year contract extension that cleared up $15 million in salary cap space between 2013-14 and lasts through the 2017 season, when Brady will be 40.

The total value of the contract, five years and $57 million, is considered a steep discount for a player of Brady's caliber, especially during a time when $100 million contracts are prevalent among franchise quarterbacks.

Brady said the decision to sign the deal was rooted in an interest to stay with the team he believes gives him the best chance to win.

"I think for me at this point, it's about the quality of my life, and where I feel like -- the thing that's most important for me is to win -- and where do I feel like the best place for me to win is, and that's an easy choice," he said of signing the contract. "There's no place I'd want to be, this is the only place I'll ever want to play. For the only owner I'll ever want to play for, for the only coach I'll ever want to play for. We've had something special going, and I want to do everything I can to continue making it special."

The Patriots endured a tumultuous offseason highlighted by the arrest and subsequent release of star tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was charged with six crimes, including the murder of 27-year old Boston native Odin Lloyd. Brady's productive receiving corps from 2012 was largely disassembled, though the quarterback has been quick to build a rapport with his new cast of young wideouts and said he's feeling better than ever entering the 2013 season.

"Being here, going into my 14th year, feeling better than I've ever felt physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, I'm in a place where I've been through so much stuff, now I'm at a point where I really feel like everything that's happened over the course of my 13 years has prepared me for this," he said. "I'm in a great place with my being, with my role on the team, with my relationship with my teammates, my family life, how comfortable I feel in my own skin."

The 36-year old suffered a knee injury during Wednesday's joint practice with the Buccaneers, but was quick to bounce back and complete 11-of-12 throws in the team's second preseason game. He's led his offense to three touchdowns in just four drives this preseason.

The Patriots open the regular season on Sept. 8 at the Bills.