FOXBORO - The first two questions posed to Tom Brady on Wednesday were tailor-made for odes to Peyton.
"Hopefully he'll be out there to say hi," was Brady's response to whether he'll miss Manning. His response when asked if the league misses the injured Colts quarterback was even more succinct: "I don't know."
What Brady does know -- and what he labored to make clear -- was that the winless Colts are dangerous. Dangerous despite scoring the second-fewest points in the league (150) and allowing the most (327).
"I think they've got some players that can really play," said Brady. "They've got Dwight Freeney. I wish he was out this week. He's a phenomenal player. If I could be a defensive guy I'd be like him. And Robert Mathis on the other side, those are guys who can really wreak havoc. Coach said this morning, Freeney's got like 99 career sacks and 43 forced fumbles. Almost half the time he sacks you he strips the ball."
Nicenumbers. But the breathless acts oforal persuasion aren't that effective no matter how earnest the Patriots want to make them.
The Colts are awful and they have no shot at winning. And, if they do win -- by some strange confluence of circumstances -- Bill Belichick will pop a vesselbecause good teams don't lose to 0-11 teams.
Although the one great late-seasonupset I remember during Belichick's tenurewas the Patriots 29-28 loss at Miami in 2004. The Patriots were 12-1 and the Dolphins 2-11 for that December 20 loss. And the Patriots still went on to win the Super Bowl.
But that is the kind of memory that Belichick and Brady can cultivate this week. They can also remind everyone how hard it is to be a successful NFL team.
"I think sometimes we take for granted here because(of our success)but it's hard to win an NFL game," said Brady. "Every team has talent. Every team can only spend to the cap . . . It's hard to win games. It really is. You never want to see a team have that kind of season because you know how miserable we are when we lose two in a row. At the same time, our job is to go out there and perform as well as we can against them this week."
In other words, sorry about this but, here is loss No. 12, Colts. Better luck next year. Against everybody but us.