There wasn't a particular play that stuck out in Tom Brady's mind as the one he would like to have back. Instead, there were several that went wrong and led to New England's 28-13 loss in the AFC Championship game to the Ravens.
Brady spoke to WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show for his final Monday morning interview of the season to explain some of those plays that he'd like to have back, as well as the emotions he felt after dropping another playoff game short of the team's goal to win the Super Bowl.
"It's not like some games where you point to one or two plays," Brady said. "It was just all around: third down conversions, red area plays, turnovers always play a factor. All those things really weren't in our favor. When they're not, you can't point to 'Wow it was just that one play.' It was a lot of plays. That's how you lose by 15. I thought after the game, I can't remember the last time we lost by 15 points. It's been a while."
Brady did discuss a few of those plays he wished could have gone differently. Among them, he explained how he would've handled the end of the first half differently had he had the chance to do it over.
Would he have called a timeout immediately after sliding at the Baltimore seven-yard line?
"Yeah, I think that's definitely what I would've done," he said. "We talk about sometimes saving the last timeout for the field goal. With one timeout left I think that was the thought. It's just sometimes when you're in the heat of the moment sometimes you don't realize how much clock has ticked off as you've run that previous play. By the time I looked up, there was not as many seconds left as you thought because my mind was focused on the play. But yeah, of course looking back on it, I wish as soon as I slid I called a timeout and then maybe we'd have another opportunity to put the ball in the end zone."
Brady also discussed Wes Welker's third quarter drop. On a third-and-eight play on New England's first drive of the second half, Brady hit Welker in the flat for what would have been a first down, but the ball bounced off of Welker's hands and fell incomplete. Though just moments earlier Welker had been leveled by Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, Brady said he didn't think twice about throwing to his most targeted receiver.
"Big hits are part of the game," Brady said. "They're a very physical team, and they put a few big hits on us last night. Wes is the toughest player I've ever played with and been around. You just don't think about those things sometimes. You're reading the defense, or making protection calls, then you see a guy that's open and you try to throw it to him."
Brady lamented his team's offensive performance in the second half, when it was shut out by the Ravens. But he also spoke about missed opportunities to score points in the first half, when the Patriots started drives at their 33, 47 and Baltimore's 43-yard line.
"At times we moved the ball pretty well," Brady said. "We had good field position there early in the game. We just didn't make many critical plays, ones that got us over the hump. Just poor execution on our part. Just a rough night. There are other games where we haven't executed as well but you're margin of error is different when you pay the best teams.
"Baltimore is always a tough game for us, even when we play our best it's a tough game. They played very well. We just couldn't get enough going and string together enough good plays to score touchdowns when we needed to."
Brady said no matter how the season ends, it's heartbreaking and difficult to accept.
"That's kind of the way the NFL season is," he said. "Coach Bill Belichick said it after the game, there's no soft landing. It's just a crash, so to speak. It was just a bad night for us. Certainly we didn't play anywhere to the level that we were capable of playing."
Here are some of the other highlights from Brady's interview with WEEI:
On whether he will lobby the Patriots to retain Welker, who's scheduled to hit free agency
I think those business parts of the game, those usually take care of themselves. Certainly I'm not involved in any of those. Everyone knows how I feel about Wes. Our whole team feels that way about Wes. He's one of the best players I've ever played with and played against. He's just a phenomenal player. He's the heart and soul of what our team's been about. He's been so selfless, the way he carries himself and commits himself to the team to win, it's second to none. But like I said, those aren't my decisions.
On what happened when he scrambled from the pocket, collided with an official and went down
I saw Ray Lewis coming, and it's not like i really wanna go head-to-head with him. The official kind of got caught in a place where he really couldn't get out of the way, either. Just one of those things that come up.
On if he's excited to play in the Pro Bowl
We have a physical today so we'll see how I really feel. I would love to play in it. I'm not sure with a few things that have come up this last week if I'll be capable, but I'll talk with the doctor and see what he thinks.