Brady says he’s fo­cused on Ti­tans

The Maui News - - SPORTS - By KYLE HIGHTOWER

Pa­tri­ots host di­vi­sional game fol­low­ing re­ports of rift in­volv­ing quar­ter­back

FOXBOR­OUGH, Mass. — Maybe the Ten­nessee Ti­tans are com­ing up for Tom Brady and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots at the per­fect time.

After a drama-filled week, 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.”

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, 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.”

AP file photo

Tom Brady and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots host Mar­cus Mariota and the Ten­nessee Ti­tans in a di­vi­sional game Satur­day.

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