Quarterback Tom Brady knows about dispatching the Colts in Foxborough during the postseason in the midst of a Super Bowl run.
Brady’s New England Patriots rolled through Peyton Manning’s Indy squad 24-14 in the AFC Championship Game following the 2003 season.
A year later Brady and Co. sent Manning’s team back to Indianapolis unhappy 20-3 in the divisional round.
Both those campaigns concluded with New England hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
And it resulted in Brady taking a massive advantage in the long-standing debate surrounding he and Manning as the better quarterback of the era.
Now, though, Brady will take on the Colts led by Andrew Luck, with another potential chapter in his rivalry with Manning as an AFC title possibility on the horizon.
But New England’s passer, still working through what has been a challenging season due to injuries and offseason turnover on his previously dominant passing attack, is focused on anything but Luck, Manning or history.
“I don’t necessarily approach it like that,” Brady said when asked about facing the challenge of one of the great young players in the game at his position. “My motivation is pretty simple. I just try to win, that’s what I try to do and try to be part of the reason why we’re successful. That’s part of doing my job and trying to be the best I can be for the team. It really doesn’t have anything to do with anybody on the other team and what their motivation might be. To be a professional athlete and to play at this high level with this level of competition, winning is the only thing that’s important. That’s one goal and one objective that I’ve had for a very long time.”
It’s all about dissecting the Colts defense and being ready to do whatever is necessary come Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. And a big part of that defense is linebacker Robert Mathis, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles during the regular season. He notched a key strip-sack of Alex Smith in the win last weekend over the Chiefs.
“He’s a good place to start. He’s a great player and been a great player for a long time,” Brady said of Mathis. “We’ve played these guys a bunch over the years. We kind of know what we’re up against. He’s having one of the best years of his career. They have a good defense. They are top-10 in a bunch of categories. They really have some good safeties that cover a lot of ground, really fast corners. They’re physical. They have a good team. We just have to outscore them I think. We have to go out there and put points on the board. That’s what our job is going to be.”
For his part, even though Luck won’t be facing off against Brady on the field, he’s well aware of the challenge at hand playing against a team led by Brady.
“He has definitely set the standard for success at the quarterback position,” Luck acknowledged. “The way he handles himself, watching from afar, the competitive nature and basically all the right things he does. Yeah, I guess he is a barometer and he is the standard.”
The media will hype up the matchup of quarterbacks as has always been the case in the postseason battles between the Patriots and the Colts. No long Brady vs. Manning, the young Luck is looking to build on an already burgeoning legend in just his second season.
But Brady is just worried about his job and what it’s going to take to beat the Colts, not Luck. And although he’s been down this road many times before — having seen both major success and dismal failure in the postseason — this is still a special time for New England’s No. 12.
“It’s incredible to play in this. These are the moments you dream about — to be in the NFL playoffs and you have a chance with eight other teams to be the last team standing,” Brady said. “It’s why we work hard. It’s why every guy puts a lot out there. You sacrifice a lot of things. A lot of people would die to be in our positions. I don’t think you take those things for granted. I think you cherish those and understand the opportunity that’s ahead. It’s different than a normal week. There’s no, ‘Hey, we’ll get them tomorrow. We’ll talk about the corrections on Monday.’ You have one opportunity to get it right and that’s all you can ask for as an athlete and the great part is that once that ball is kicked off, none of that other crap matters. It’s just the players that are ultimately going to go out there and decide who wins the game by how we play.”
SERIES HISTORY: 77th meeting, 4th in the playoffs. Patriots lead overall series, 47-29, including 2-1 in the post-season. The two teams formed one of the best rivalries in the game since 2000, seemingly battling for AFC supremacy on an annual basis. The Colts had a historic comeback in the 2006 AFC title game for the 38-34 victory in Indy on the way to a Super Bowl title. New England won the two previous playoff encounters, both in Foxborough following the 2003 and 2004 seasons on the way to a pair of Super Bowl victories of their own.