The three-time Super Bowl champion admitted that he played badly in the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens.
The Patriots beat the Ravens 23-20, but Brady had a season-low passer rating of 57.5. He threw two interceptions, his streak of 35 games with at least one touchdown pass ended and his 239 yards passing were his fourth fewest of the season.
It was quite a drop for the quarterback who threw for 5,235 yards, second most in NFL history, and directed the league’s second most productive offense.
But at least his team won. Four years ago the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Giants 17-14 and Brady’s performance was far from his best. He threw for 266 yards and one touchdown and was sacked five times.
It was a loss that was very tough to forget.
“All the games you lose, there are plays that you want back,” Brady said at media day for the championship rematch. “Certainly, every time you lose, you think there is more that you could have done to help the team win. But when you win, you don’t think about any of those things. You think about what you do well.”
He’d like nothing more than to spend the offseason thinking about his fourth championship in 12 pro seasons, not his second Super Bowl loss in the last four.
A lot hinges on how he bounces back from a game in which, he said soon after it ended, “I sucked pretty bad.”
But don’t expect him to change his meticulous, disciplined preparation, regardless of how he played in the previous one.
“The guy is constantly finding ways to get better so his demeanor really never changes,” wide receiver Wes Welker said. “He’s always out there trying to do whatever he needs to do to win the game.”
“The Ravens have a great defense, but we just didn’t focus on the small details as well as we have been doing,” right guard Brian Waters said. “It’s definitely a wakeup call. If we play like that again we will not be successful and we realize that.”
The last time the Super Bowl opponents met was in the eighth game this season. The Giants won 24-20 and Brady completed 57.1 percent of his throws with two scoring passes. One of his two interceptions led to a field goal and a fumble he lost set up a touchdown.
That could provide added incentive for him to raise his play in the biggest game.
“He’s always highly motivated, but I think he knows what’s at stake,” Hoyer said. “He’s always focused and attentive and passionate about every play in practice so I see that this week. I’m sure it’ll continue.”
The Giants had a porous defense, allowing the fourth most yards in the NFL. But they can put pressure on Brady with five pass rushers who each had at least four sacks and one, Jason Pierre-Paul, who was fourth in the NFL with 16 1/2 .