Everybody wanted to talk to Tom Brady Sunday about the Super Bowl or maybe facing the Packers at Lambeau in the NFC Championship Game or avenging a September loss to the Rams.
He’s been around long enough to know he can only focus on one thing.
“I don’t know, you’re worried about two games from now, I’m not worried about two games from now, I’m worried about one game from now, which is the Eagles,” Brady said. “We still have the Eagles, that’s going to be the biggest game of our season.”
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The 44-year-old Brady will make his third career postseason start against the Eagles Sunday afternoon in a wild-card game. The Bucs and Eagles meet at 1 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
The Eagles will try to join the Giants as only the second team to beat Brady in consecutive playoff games. The Giants did it in Super Bowls after the 2007 and 2011 seasons.
The Bucs beat the Eagles 28-22 in October at the Linc, with Brady going 34-for-42 for 297 yards, two touchdowns and one interception by Anthony Harris. Tampa led 28-7 late in the third quarter before the Eagles made the score more respectable with a couple long TD drives capped by Jalen Hurts touchdown runs.
Brady this year threw for 5,316 yards, 3rd-most in NFL history, although obviously he did it in a 17-game season. Still, his 312 yards per game are 12th-most ever, and his 43 touchdowns are his second-most ever. He threw 50 in 2007.
Brady holds virtually every postseason passing record there is: He’s 34-11 in his career in the playoffs with 83 touchdowns, 38 interceptions, 12,449 passing yards.
In the 2004 Super Bowl in Jacksonville, he was 23-for-33 (70 percent) with two TDs and no INTs. In the Super Bowl in Minneapolis 13 years later, he was 28-for-48 (58 percent) with three TDs and no INTs.
He did have a fumble that you may remember.
Brady will join Drew Brees as only the second quarterback to make three postseason appearances against the Eagles. Troy Aikman, Michael Vick, Brad Johnson, Eli Manning and Kurt Warner each made two.
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“We’re going to have to play our best game of the year,” Brady said Sunday. “I mean this is our toughest opponent all year. You know, we’re playing a team that’s very talented and made it to this point for a reason.
“We have to do everything we have to do to get the win. This is a football team that has been playing really well – good on offense, they have a very good defense, good front, very healthy. It’s going to be a very tough game.”
The Bucs are the No. 2 seed and the Eagles are the No. 7 seed. But down the stretch – from Week 8 through Week 16 – the Eagles actually had a better record than the Bucs, going 7-2 to Tampa’s 6-3.
If you’re looking for reasons to believe, the Bucs lost twice to the Saints and once to Washington, teams the Eagles went 3-0 against.
“We’re going to have to keep it going,” Brady said. “Everyone’s at the same point and we have to win one game and it’s against a really good football team who is playing really well lately.”