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Sports

January 8, 2014

In 14th season, Brady still fired up for playoffs

FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady head-butted teammates before his first Super Bowl.

Twelve years and four more NFL championship games later, the quarterback hasn’t lost his fire.

He still shows it before games and after big plays by banging helmets with other New England Patriots.

“I’m pretty emotional,” Brady said yesterday.

That should be obvious when the Patriots come back from a first-round bye to face the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC divisional-round playoff game Saturday night. Especially if he has plenty of scoring plays to celebrate.

His mood would be quite different if NFL sacks leader Robert Mathis keeps getting close enough to tackle him or hurry his passes.

“He’s a great player and been a great player for a long time,” Brady said. “He’s having one of the best years of his career.”

So what can Brady do if he sees the 11-year veteran bearing down on him?

Step up in the pocket? Throw quickly? Duck?

“I can’t really run away from him,” Brady said with his usual jab at his lack of speed, “so that option’s out the door.”

There’s no doubt he’ll have his eyes trained on the linebacker who lines up in different places on different plays.

“You have to understand where he’s at. He really has a sense of urgency,” Brady said.

And a knack for stripping the ball while sacking the quarterback.

“That’s why he’s one of the best players in the league, because he makes those types of plays happen,” Brady said. “He makes them on a regular basis. It’s not a fluke when he does it.”

Mathis led the NFL with 19 1-2 sacks and forced eight fumbles. His strip-sack of Kansas City’s Alex Smith led to a Colts touchdown in their 45-44 wild-card win over the Chiefs last Saturday.

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