Tom Brady provided the most revealing answer yet as to how the Patriots will approach Sunday's game against the Texans, saying he assumes he will play the entire game in Houston. Brady wants to play, both out of his natural competitive spirit and a desire to gather momentum after last week's performance against Jacksonville.
Brady said he shared his opinion with coach Bill Belichick this week. "He said, 'You’ll play. Don’t worry about that. You’ll be playing,' " Brady said.
The Patriots have locked up their playoff status, vying only for the third or fourth seed. But Brady believes he will be on the field, despite having played through injuries to his right finger and ribs for several weeks.
“I expect, close game, blowout, we get behind, I’m expecting to play the whole game," Brady said. "I wouldn’t see why we wouldn’t.
“It’s our job to prepare to play, and I certainly am. I want to play, and I want to do great against a team that’s fighting for their playoff life and has a lot of great players and really challenges you in some different ways. It’s a meaningful game for us. It’s a meaningful game for them, too. It would be great for us to win on the road against a damn good team.”
Part of Brady's desire to play Sunday stems from his wanting to continue to build on the offensive cohesion the Patriots displayed last week in a 35-7 thumping of the Jaguars. The Patriots are getting healthier than at any point this year, evidenced by full attendance at practice today. After two consecutive uneven games, the Patriots offense had perhaps its best game of the season last week.
"I think it’s important for us to get some consistency," Brady said. "We got guys like Fred [Taylor] back, which is good. And guys like [Julian Edelman and Sam Aiken] are relatively healthy. Our offensive line is starting to show some consistency. We haven’t really had the full group out there for a whole lot of the season. So it would be great for us to kind of come together and be able to use all the different personnel groups that we have. We have a lot of good weapons. It’s nice to be able to use all of them.
"This week is a very important game for us and the improvements we’re trying to make. Last week, we were asked about the identity of the offense. I think last weekend was really a great example of the way we need to play. We’ll certainly try to carry that over again this week, against a team that is very different, but still presents some challenges."
Later, Brady was asked his feeling about what happened to Peyton Manning and the Colts last Sunday. Rather than harp on losing an undefeated season, Brady's thoughts turned to simply losing and how it relates to his team's circumstance.
“Losing in general stinks. My dad said, ‘You guys going to play this week?’ Of course I want to play. I don’t want to lose a game. It’s not like you just forfeit these games for us. I don’t feel like, playing Houston, in the offseason I don’t want to see one of those guys be like, ‘Hey, we beat you guys.’ Screw that. We got to go out there and play.
“I enjoy it. I think that’s what we get paid for. We get paid to play.”
On Wednesday, Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley added some fuel to the play-or-sit debate when he suggested the Patriots and Bengals will "lay down" in order to keep the Steelers out of the playoffs. Brady didn't have any reaction to that, other than some light chiding for a fellow alum.
"From a Michigan guy, too," Brady said. "That surprises me. Usually, we keep our mouth shut. I'm going to give Coach [Lloyd] Carr a call. Straighten him out."