Brady lauds Luck's impressive rookie season

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Brady lauds Luck's impressive rookie season

FOXBORO -- It's hard to believe Andrew Luck is a rookie. Especially for Tom Brady.

By now, we all know how Brady describes his rookie season.

"I was like fourth-string and eating nachos before the game in the stands," he said after Thursday's practice, when asked about Luck's first NFL season.

It's a recycled line that Brady has used when comparing his rookie season to another's.

But it's true. Compared to what Luck has done this year -- 10 passing touchdowns, 5 rushing touchdowns, and 2,631 yards in the air -- Brady might as well have been eating nachos in the stands. But that was because Brady only appeared in one game during his rookie season in 2000-01. He went 1-for-3 for six yards.

Brady didn't want to get into comparing a potential rivalry with Andrew Luck to his former Indianapolis Colts rivalry with Peyton Manning, on Thursday.

"My focus has been on what that defense does," said Brady when asked about the old rivalry with Manning. "Its always the Colts defense and its always centered around two players and those two guys are still there. Thats really the challenge for us this week, is trying to figure out how to block that entire front. There are a lot of different looks from the last time we played them, trying to understand the scheme and how theyre doing things but theyre good and they really rush the passer and thats a big challenge."

But as much as Brady would like to end the "Colts rivalry" talk, there's no hiding from reality. And that reality is that Manning is now in Denver. And his replacement has already left his impression on the league.

So Brady did spend a few moments, on Thursday, reminiscing about the first time he met Manning. It was Brady's second season, and just his first full season, in 2001-02.

By that point in time, Manning was already a two-time Pro Bowler, and had been to the playoffs twice in his fourth full season.

Manning, the veteran. Meet Brady, the new guy.

"Yeah, I remember I was out there warming up for the game and he came over and he said, Hey Tom, Im Peyton,' " recalled Brady.

But Brady hinted towards not making such a gesture before the two teams play on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

"I dont know," said Brady. "Well see. Usually I dont go out to the field too early anymore. I tend to just keep to myself."

So while Luck probably shouldn't expect the same treatment that Manning gave Brady back in 2001, the Colts' rookie quarterback should still realize that the Patriots' veteran quarterback respects the success he's having this early in his career.

"I always admire those rookies who can do it because it is such a challenge, whether youre a defensive end like Chandler Jones, or Donta Hightower or Andrew Luck or any of these rookies who really play a big role for a certain team," said Brady. "Its a real credit to them and their ability to transition and focus on all these new things that have really come about and go out there and play well.

"I had quite a few -- 18 months -- to develop camaraderie with the guys that I played with, and it was a lot of time and practice and extra coaching sessions and so forth. For those rookies, coming right from college to this position, is very challenging."

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

Brady allows himself to enjoy win: '[Bleep], you've got to be happy now'

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady can be his own worst critic. That's why last week, after beating the Texans in the Divisional Round to move on to the AFC title game, he wasn't thrilled. He didn't play up to his standards. The offense struggled at points. He wore his frustration like a five o'clock shadow.

Winning is not everything for Brady, most weeks. He has an idea of how he should perform, how the Patriots offense should perform, and when those ideals aren't met, he's generally displeased. 

PATRIOTS 36, STEELERS 17

On Sunday, after beating up on the Steelers, 36-17, that wasn't the case. It was a sound performance, but it wasn't perfect. It was explosive at times, but it shined a light on areas where the Patriots will need to continue to improve. 

Despite its imperfections, Sunday was no time to brood about plays missed or lessons learned the hard way. Screw it, Brady seemed to say. They were going to the Super Bowl. It was OK to smile.  

"It was a good day," Brady said. "I mean, we're going to the Super Bowl, man. [Expletive], you've got to be happy now."

The Super Bowl berth is the ninth in franchise history -- more than any other club -- and the seventh with Brady and coach Bill Belichick. By throwing for 384 yards and three touchdowns on 32-of-42 passing, Brady tied Joe Montana for the most postseason games (nine) with three touchdown passes. 

Brady will also claim the record for Super Bowls played when he and the Patriots head to Houston. And if they win, he'll tie Charles Haley for most Super Bowl wins for a player (five).

Those are lofty numbers made even more significant, perhaps, due to the fact that Brady wasn't allowed to start this season as his team's quarterback. He was asked during Sunday's postgame press conference if it was personally satisfying to get back to the Super Bowl despite having to serve a four-game suspension due to Deflategate.

"Well, that's because of the hard work of a lot of people from my coaches to my teammates to our families that support us," he said. "It takes a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of effort over the course of many months. This didn't start at 6:40 tonight.

"This thing started in April. It really started before that in free-agency when we were picking up guys like [Chris] Hogan and drafting guys like Malcolm Mitchell and guy who were in rehab like [LeGarrette Blount] and [Dion Lewis] and [James Develin] and Nate [Solder]. It's a lot of hard work. There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them."

They're going to the Super Bowl. He has to be happy now.