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|Maybe the Tennessee Titans are coming up for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at the perfect time. After a drama-filled week Pat McAfee Jersey , the quarterback says his focus remains solely on football as his team prepares to host the Titans in Saturday’s divisional round.
During Brady’s tenure the Patriots are 6-1 against the Titans. He has 13 passing touchdowns and one interception in those games – his best touchdown to interception ratio against any opponent in his career.
He also is 6-0 against Mike Mularkey-coached teams.
But that hasn’t changed the approach for Brady, who is preparing for his 35th playoff start in the aftermath of recent reports suggesting discord between himself, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.
In a joint statement last week, all three men brushed aside any insinuation of strife at the top of one of the NFL’s jewel franchises. Brady reiterated on Thursday that his mind remains on the field.
”We do what we always do. We show up to work and try to do the best we can do,” he said. ”We know there’s a lot at stake and I think everyone’s put a lot into it. It doesn’t really matter what happened outside of this facility.”
Patriots receiver Danny Amendola hasn’t noticed any change in Brady.
”He’s the ultimate professional and he (makes) his teammates better and he demands a lot,” Amendola said. ”We all want to win for him, and we all want to play hard for him.”
Tennessee recognizes the challenge it faces against Brady. It opened the week as a 13-point underdog, and prior to last week hadn’t won a playoff game since the 2003 season.
That doesn’t mean the Titans fear the Patriots.
”It’s a playoff game, so it’s not like it’s the preseason where I can go out there, `Oh, it’s Brady,’ and I’m chillin,”’ Tennessee All-Pro safety Kevin Byard said. ”This is a playoff game. So I don’t really care if it was Joe Montana. You know what I’m saying? I’m trying to go out there and win the game. I want to make him look like (Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback) Blake Bortles if I can to try to catch a couple picks.
”Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but it’s a playoff game. I’m not really looking at it like that.”
The contrast in quarterbacks will be stark.
At age 40 Troy Aikman Jersey , Brady is the oldest remaining quarterback in the playoffs. The Titans have the youngest in 24-year-old Marcus Mariota. The 16-year age gap between them is the largest between starting quarterbacks in a playoff game in NFL history.
Since 2001, quarterbacks making their first or second career playoff start are 0-7 against New England.
”I think it just comes down to how well you play,” Brady said. ”At the end of the day, it’s not about old guys are going to win or young guys are going to win, the home team, the road team. It’s really going to come down to execution. No one’s going to be able to do it for you.”
If the Titans have any hope of slowing down Brady, the X factor might be defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
With Belichick as head coach, he and LeBeau have faced off in the playoffs once: the 2004 AFC championship game that New England won in Pittsburgh, 41-27.
Brady had two touchdown passes in that game, but was also sacked twice.
”The one thing you got to try to do is not let him read you like a book, which he’s very adept at,” LeBeau said. ”Whether you’re pressuring or whether you’re going coverage, if he knows where you’re going, he’s probably going to be pretty effective.”
Brady isn’t taking anything for granted.
”These are fun games to play in Eddie Goldman Jersey ,” he said. ”You’re out there, you’re in the position to succeed. Your coaches have put a lot on you. The team’s really relying on you. You’ve got to go out there and make the plays.”
AP Football Writer Teresa Walker in Nashville contributed to this report.
If his 15th NFL season is to be his last, don't expect Larry Fitzgerald to tell anyone.
Not until long after the season is over.
"I told you this a long time ago," he said after the Arizona Cardinals practiced Thursday. "There's never going to be a farewell tour. It's not about me. There's 53 guys on this roster. There's 53 guys who are giving their all to compete and make this team better, and coaches. It's so much bigger than any one individual."
It's pretty much the same thing Fitzgerald has said each of the past few years when questions are raised about the inevitable end to one of the greatest careers of any wide receiver in NFL history.
"No game was ever won by one man and no game was ever lost by one man," he said. "When you start thinking that it's bigger than that and it's about you, that's when you've lost touch with what this game is all about and what the spirit of this game is about."
Make no mistake about it. Fitzgerald knows all about where he stands statistically on the NFL career lists. The numbers do mean a lot to him. But he spends very little time talking about them. Maybe there will come a time, perhaps at that Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But for now, Fitzgerald is insisting he's just one guy on a team.
When Sam Bradford tosses one in a regular-season game to Fitzgerald, he will become the 18th quarterback to complete a pass to No. 11 in the receiver's years with Arizona. That is a lot of quarterbacks, to be sure.
"It's a privilege," Fitzgerald said. "Most guys don't get a chance to play long enough to be able to catch the ball from that many quarterbacks. I look at it as a blessing and a testament to my longevity. Hopefully, we can go a whole season and not have to make any changes."
Some of the quarterbacks are well known 鈥?including Hall of Famer Kurt Warner and recently retired Carson Palmer. There also was Brian St. Pierre, Max Hall and John Skelton Nick Perry Jersey , among many others.
Injuries led to in-season quarterback changes. So did poor quarterback play. But through it all, Fitzgerald usually catches whatever comes his way. He has caught a pass in 211 consecutive games, the second-longest such streak in NFL history behind Jerry Rice's 274. Only once in his 218 career games did he not catch a pass.
Fitzgerald, who turns 35 on Aug. 31, is within striking distance of the No. 2 spot on two other significant career lists 鈥?receptions and yards receiving. He has 15,545 yards receiving and needs 390 to pass Terrell Owens into second (behind Rice's 22,895) and, with 1,234 catches, needs 92 to pass Tony Gonzalez into second, behind Rice's formidable 1,549.
If those numbers seem a stretch, consider that Fitzgerald was second in the NFL last season with 109 catches (tying his franchise record) for 1,156 yards. The past three years Antonio Morrison Jersey , between the ages of 32 and 34, Fitzgerald caught 325 passes.
Five years ago, with the hiring of coach Bruce Arians, Fitzgerald was moved from his customary wideout position to play in the slot, where blocking was a major part of his duties and he was among the best doing so at his position.
Now comes another new offense under coordinator Mike McCoy, an attack that looks to combine power running with a ball control game. In the first preseason game, Fitzgerald's block was critical in springing David Johnson for a 14-yard gain.
Fitzgerald said he's excited to see what this new system will do. He just wants to get started. First, there is Sunday night's preseason game at Dallas.
"I'm ready for the preseason to be over with," he said.
Like the other starters, Fitzgerald won't play in the preseason finale against Denver. Now it's all about staying healthy Sunday.
"I feel great. I just want to keep it that way," he said. "That's why I want the preseason to be over and the real season starts coming and the real checks start coming."
Notes: Rookie QB Josh Rosen slammed the thumb on his throwing hand against a helmet in practice this week but coach Steve Wilks said that he still expects Rosen to play.
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