Tom Brady has been a part of Super Bowl-winning teams and record-setting teams, but this year's Patriots squad stands out for reasons all its own.
"I’ve never been a part of a year like this where we’ve had this many guys injured, and new guys really step in, and won some really last-second games," Brady told WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show on Monday morning. "Really, when we’ve been challenged the most we’ve been at our best. That shows really the mental toughness of the team that we’ve got. Hopefully that serves us well here two weeks from now."
Following New England's 34-20 victory over the Bills on Sunday, the Patriots clinched a first-round bye in the playoffs and are just one win away from a trip back to the AFC Championship game.
Considering the number of injuries sustained by key Patriots contributors -- Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Sebastian Vollmer and Tommy Kelly are all on season-ending injured reserve -- Brady explained that to finish 12-4 in the regular season has required an unmatched mental toughness.
"I would say our team really this year has established a mental toughness, which is really critical to the success and the overall success of what our team is and what we’re trying to be,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of tough guys. We’ve got physically tough guys on our offensive line. I’d take any one of those guys in a street fight. Because those guys are going to fight their butts off. They’re as tough as can be. The tight ends, the way they’ve played all year and how tough they are, what they’ve added to our team. James Develin, who really doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he’s done, but what an amazing job he’s done playing fullback for our team. [He] really established a brand of toughness that we haven’t had for a long time at that position. I’m really proud of him, I’m proud of all the guys and what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished. Now this is the reason why we worked so hard, to put ourselves in this position."