Patriots

Brady to MMQB one week after Super Bowl: 'I have zero pain'

brady_tom_super_bowl_li.jpg

Brady to MMQB one week after Super Bowl: 'I have zero pain'

Tom Brady was sacked five times and hit three more during a game in which he played a career-high 99 snaps. The game also happened to be Brady's 15th in 18 weeks. He also happens to be 39 years old. 

Still, he told Peter King of TheMMQB.com that he felt perfectly fine exactly one week after winning Super Bowl LI.

"I have zero pain," Brady said on Sunday. "I feel great. I feel 100 percent."

We've long chronicled the ways in which Brady takes care of his body in order to be fresh for as long as possible. That includes taking a maniacle approach to his training, keeping up with an incredibly regimented diet, and sleep. Lots of sleep

This season it also meant managing knee and thigh issues that stemmed from a hit he took against the Seahawks back in Week 10. Despite all that, and despite playing at an age when most players are several years into retirement, Brady felt well enough this past weekend to go skiing in Montana, where King caught up with him. 

The two had a conversation that lasted a couple of hours, per King. Here are a few of the most noteworthy tidbits that were passed along . . . 

* Though the Patriots put together the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, Brady said the game was not one of his best. Yes, he won Super Bowl MVP after setting records for attempts (62), completions (43), yards (466) and his offense set the mark for most first downs (37), but he noted his performance was littered with imperfections through the first three quarters. 

"I don’t really think that is necessarily the case," he said when King suggested it had to be one of the great games of his life. "I think it was one of the greatest games I have ever played in, but when I think of an interception return for a touchdown, some other missed opportunities in the first 37, 38 minutes of the game, I don’t really consider playing a good quarter-and-a-half plus overtime as one of the 'best games ever.' But it was certainly one of the most thrilling for me, just because so much was on the line, and it ended up being an incredible game."

* Brady broke down several key plays that helped the Patriots make up the 25-point deficit they faced in the third quarter, including the six-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola in the fourth. On the play, Brady acknowledged that he had a little help from offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as he surveyed the Falcons defense. 

Because Brady was to the line of scrimmage well before the coach-to-quarterback communication system went down -- it shuts off when the play clock hits 15 seconds -- McDaniels was able to steer Brady in Amendola's direction based on what he saw from the sideline. 

Amendola was in the slot, with corner Jalen Collins on his inside shoulder, when Brady widened Amendola away from the formation a few steps. 

"I think he said, ‘Don’t forget about Danny,’ or ‘Danny has a great shot on this.’ Something like that," Brady said. "I wanted to give Danny a better chance to get open. So I pushed him out because I knew at that point I had changed the route and I wanted to make sure Danny would get the leverage or put him in a better position to get the leverage based on the route that he had.

"I wanted to move him out because I didn’t want him to get stuck inside of Jalen … [Collins] being inside told me it was probably man coverage, a perimeter corner on the inside of the field … When I pushed Danny out, Jalen didn’t really adjust, so I was really looking outside after that to see if the corner was going to try to get involved and maybe trapping that to the flat. But once I saw the corner go with the outside receiver, or it might have been James White, I just threw it to Danny."

* Collins was targeted 14 times in the game, and he allowed 10 catches for 98 yards and two scores. Part of the reason Brady picked on the second-year man out of LSU?

"Because he is, in the vernacular, 'long,' and New England’s scouting theory entering the game was that 'long' corners (Collins is 6'1") are slightly slower at stopping and starting," King wrote. 

That made some of the comeback routes that Brady hit to Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell particularly appealing when Collins was lined up across from them in one-on-one situations outside. 

Gronkowski on pace for max earnings, ready for his crack at Falcons

Gronkowski on pace for max earnings, ready for his crack at Falcons

FOXBORO -- Despite missing one game this season, Rob Gronkowski is on track for a big year that would pay him more than double what he's scheduled to earn in 2017.

A thigh issue held the Patriots tight end out of action in Week 5 against the Buccaneers, yet he's still 12th in the league in receiving yards (401) and third among tight ends, behind only Travis Kelce (423) and Zach Ertz (405). His four touchdowns put him in the top-10 pass-catchers in the league in that category, and his six catches of 20 yards or more is tied for 14th. 

MORE PATRIOTS:

If Gronkowski stays healthy and is on the field for the final 10 regular-season games of the year, he's on pace for 78 catches for 1,203 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those numbers would put him in contention for a first-team All-Pro nod, which would earn him the max $10.75 million for 2017 that's been written into his incentive-laden contract for this season.

But even if he isn't an All-Pro -- say Kelce and Ertz continue to have excellent seasons -- Gronkowski's 1,200 receiving yards would also trigger the max value of his deal. Seventy catches, 1,000 receiving yards or 12 touchdowns would trigger the second tier of Gronkowski's incentives, paying him $8.75 million. Sixty catches, 800 yards or 10 touchdowns would pay him $6.75 million -- up from the minimum of $5.25 million he's  guaranteed for this season.

Against Atlanta, he'll have a chance to combat the Falcons team speed in a way that he wasn't able to last February when he missed the Super Bowl following season-ending back surgery. 

"It feels great to be back playing, but I mean, it’s a whole new year," he said Wednesday. "It’s a whole new week. They’ve got different players now. We’ve got different players. They’ve got a different scheme a little bit from all the different players. We’ve got a little different scheme from all the new players that we have, so it’s a whole new game. It’s a whole new challenge this week and we’ve just got to work hard this week and get ready for Sunday night."

The Falcons defense features young and athletic players like linebackers Deion Jones and Duke Riley as well as pass-rusher Vic Beasley and safety Keanu Neal, but they haven't been all that stout against opposing tight ends in 2017. Per Football Outsiders, they rank 19th in defending tight ends, allowing 61.4 yards per game on 8.9 pass attempts. 

The Patriots could wind up seeing 6-foot-4, 232-pound linebacker De'Vondre Campbell on Gronkowski on Sunday night. He and Neal have been the primary defenders on tight ends in recent weeks, and against the Lions last month Campbell was targeted five times and allowed zero catches while covering tight end Eric Ebron.

"They're a good defense," Gronkowski said. "You've got to go out there and you've got to play your best football. I feel like at any time, any given time, if I'm not playing my best football, if I'm not taking the coaching points, if I’m not doing the things right out there on the field then I feel like I could be covered by any one.

"But also at the same time, if I’m doing things right, feeling good, taking the coaching points then I feel like I can get open on anyone. It just all comes down to playing the game this coming Sunday night."

The problem for Atlanta is that Gronkowski is playing his best football right now. And if he keeps it up, he'll be paid accordingly.

Brady to mom Galynn in middle of 2016 season: 'You'll be ready for the Super Bowl'

patriots-tom-brady-mom-dad.jpg

Brady to mom Galynn in middle of 2016 season: 'You'll be ready for the Super Bowl'

She hadn't been able to get to a game all season, but Tom Brady had a feeling that his mom would be well enough to make it to the last one. 

"He said, 'You'll be ready for the Super Bowl,' " Tom Brady Sr. told NFL Network's Andrea Kremer. "He told us that in the middle of the season. At the end of her five months was going to be two weeks before the Super Bowl."

MORE PATRIOTS:

Brady's mom, Galynn, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2016 and was undergoing chemotherapy throughout that season. As she focused on her treatments (which were scheduled for Thursday mornings), Galynn and Tom Sr. spent Sundays watching their son's games from afar. 

"Everything centered around 10 o'clock on Thursday morning," Tom Sr. said, "and then 10 o'clock on Sunday morning when we focused on the football games."

The Patriots continued to win, and the end of their season continued to be pushed back, making it possible for Galynn and Tom Sr. to attend their son's seventh Super Bowl. She was cleared for travel by her doctors on the day before the family's scheduled trip to Houston.

"I just wanted to be there for Tommy, and I wanted to be there with my family," she said. "Everybody was going to the Super Bowl, and I didn't want to miss that."

Kremer's piece aired Sunday on NFL Network's NFL GameDay Morning, as the league and the American Cancer Society work together this month on their Crucial Catch campaign. It's online now at NFL.com.