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“We don’t have to be all lovey-dovey and say he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread,” Ryan said. “We have a right to our opinion and a comment like that, it’s no big deal.”

Belichick says his team is focused on preparing for the game. His players say that Cromartie’s characterization doesn’t motivate them and that he’s entitled to his opinion.

When asked about the unflattering description, Brady smoothly shifted the direction to praising Cromartie’s skills.

“He’s a good player,” Brady said. “Revis is a great player. They have a great secondary and they are one of the best defenses we face. We’re going to spend a lot of time preparing for them. … The way they shut down the Colts offense is pretty impressive because we know how good that offense is.”

Cromartie has one of the four interceptions Brady threw. Revis held AFC receptions leader Reggie Wayne to one catch for a yard in the playoff win over Indianapolis.

For the Patriots, the goal is to beat Cromartie and his defensive mates on the field. The talk can wait.

“I don’t think we’re spending our time figuring out what we can do to combat what people say about us,” Brady said. “Not everybody has great things to say about our team or organization or certain players and that’s the way it’s always been.”

He’s even been criticized by his own coaches. Some, he said, have used the same word Cromartie used.

Belichick’s called me that and my offensive coordinator calls me that,” Brady said. “I know they like me so maybe he really likes me.”


AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. in Florham Park, N.J., contributed to this report.