FOXBORO - By halftime last January 16th, Tom Brady had been sacked three times by the New York Jets, he'd thrown an inexplicable pick, Patrick Chung had called for a fake punt that failed and that gaffe led to a Jets touchdown with 33 seconds left in the first half. The 14-3 deficit at the break? Too much to overcome. The year before, the Baltimore Ravens allowed late-arriving traffic on Route 1 to U-turn and head home as they built a 24-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. In neither of those games could the Patriots' starts be called "poised."So with the feature game of this weekend's playoff slate Saturday night, the Patriots are in a position once again where they must bring composure. Can they? Will they be able to the poise missing the last two playoff games? "Once that ball's kicked off, it's a game," said Tom Brady. "And it's the same game we've been playing all season. There's definitely a heightened sense of intensity because it's one game. There's no next week. It's a one-game season. Trying to control your emotions to a point where it doesn't interfere with your level of execution is important. But sometimes you can't control that. We'll see."That Brady candidly revealed his emotions are beyond control in big games is noteworthy. The fact they have gotten that way later in his career when, for the first 10 playoff games of his career (all wins), he was as cool as any quarterback had ever been in the cauldron of pressure. Urgency is important. But there's a line between urgency and desperation and for Brady, the desire to return to the summit - especially after doing the Icarus thing back in 2007 - seems almost desperate. "Every play is so important this time of year that you feel like you need to execute the best," said Brady. "When you play the best teams, the margin for error is less. They're gonna be playing well, they're gonna be ready to go. We have to match that. ...We got to go out there and try to play a good. Emotions will be running high, I'm sure the stadium will be very loud, playing on a Saturday night. It's special, man, it's the playoffs. That's why we work so hard to get to this point." Working somewhat in the Patriots' favor is the fact that a deficit is a common occurrence in 2011. Not just in the past two games where the Patriots were down 17-0 and 21-0 and still won, for a slew of games prior to that New England overcame opponents' leads. "Over the course of this whole year, this team has done a great job of keeping its poise," explained Vince Wilfork. "Through good times and bad times. I think we all kept a level head and it starts with the top first. It starts with Bill (Belichick). And Bill's probably one of the best at it. Don't get too high, don't get too low."We've seen the video of Bill O'Brien's meltdown at Washington when he butted into a Tom Brady-Tiquan Underwood discussion. But, Wilfork says, that's been an exception."Even when things went wrong and we lost, you never hear no fuss," Wilfork began. "Well, every now and then," he added. "But we coulda been arguing on the sideline and fussin' all the time a bunch but we didn't. Poise is everything and I think this team has a lot of it and that's what it's gonna take. We're going to have to be able to fight through some tough situtations, some tough calls some tough things you might not agree with or statements made at the time of the battle. Your job is to fight through those and perform well and I think for the most part we've done that."Playoff experience, Brady was asked. What's it mean?"It's a different team than played in '01, '03," Brady corrected. "How these teams are gonna attack us, we'll see. We'll see on Saturday night. ...I think that's why we're gonna show up and play. Nobody knows the answer to do those things. Experience is great when you win, then when you lose it means nothing.
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FOXBORO -- Antonio Brown's live stream of coach Mike Tomlin's postgame speech on Sunday had a ripple effect that traveled all the way to New England: Just in case Patriots players weren't familiar with the league's social-media policy, they were reminded of it this week.
"We were reminded of that," receiver Chris Hogan said. "I’m not sure what the timing is, but obviously, I don’t think we’ll see guys doing that in the locker room."
Players are prohibited from using social media in the locker room until media outlets have been given an opportunity to talk to players following games. Brown's Facebook Live video, which garnered national attention almost as soon as it went online, was shot well before the visitor's locker room at Arrowhead Stadium opened following Pittsburgh's win over Kansas City.
"We have a team policy on that," special teams captain Matthew Slater said. "Strictly enforced. We go from there."
Of course part of the reason the video became as widely disseminated as it did was because it caught Tomlin calling the Patriots "a--holes."
"I have a lot of respect for Coach Tomlin," Slater said when asked about Tomlin's speech. "I appreciate the way he prepares his team. I’ve had a good working relationship with him over the years, and it will continue to be that way."
Both Slater and Hogan insisted that their focus will be trained solely on preparing for what Tomlin and his players will do when they arrive to Gillette Stadium Sunday night -- not what they say leading up to kickoff.
"You come in here, you're automatically bought into what we preach here, what coach [Bill] Belichick preaches," Hogan said. "It's football. We're 100 percent football here. It's not about anything outside. Between the media or whatever it is outside of football, whatever we're doing. When we come here, it's 100 percent football. That's all we're focused on is the opponent we're playing that week."