Brady will soon throw his first postseason pass since the final play of last season’s Super Bowl, a desperation heave that fell incomplete in the end zone, clinching the New York Giants’ 21-17 victory.
“I think every guy in the locker room wishes they could have done a little more,” Brady said after the game.
The Patriots have a lot of work to do to get back to that spot, in New Orleans on Feb. 3. And bye weeks haven’t always been a successful stepping-stone.
They had a bye in the 2010 season, then lost in the divisional round to the New York Jets, 28-21. The previous season, without a bye, they were beaten by the Baltimore Ravens 33-14 in the wild-card round. Both games were in Foxborough.
Clearly — week off or no week off, and even with home-field advantage — there are no guarantees in this league.
The Patriots were 6-2 at home this season, finishing with a 28-0 win over the Miami Dolphins in which Brady threw two touchdown passes and the defense posted its first shutout in three years.
“We’ve worked pretty hard to get to this point. I don’t think you want to go in there and change everything,” Brady said. “There is always pressure in this game. There’s pressure in practice. There’s pressure to make the team. There’s pressure to keep your job. Certainly there’s pressure to win games and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Brady was the Super Bowl MVP in wins over the St. Louis Rams in the 2002 season and the Carolina Panthers two years later. The following season, wide receiver Deion Branch earned the honor against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Before that game, Branch sat with former NFL stars Dan Marino and Cris Carter for a television show. Marino and Carter had just one Super Bowl appearance between them in tremendous careers.