FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Tom Brady was just a kid in his second pro season when he won his first playoff game.
Now a 13-year veteran, the New England Patriots star needs just one more victory to break a tie with Joe Montana for most in the postseason as a starting quarterback.
Hed love to get his 17th on Sunday against the Houston Texans, not to reach the milestone but to advance to the AFC championship game.
So when he was asked on Wednesday if he was aware of the historic significance, he answered: With that question, I guess Im aware of it.
Football, Brady said, is a team game. Ive been fortunate to play here and have the opportunity. Theres no place Id rather be.
He was there for the famous Tuck Rule game, a snowy 16-13 overtime win over the Oakland Raiders in his playoff debut in 2002 when a ruling that he had lost a fumble was changed, upon replay, to an incomplete pass. The Patriots went on to kick the tying and winning field goals.
He was there for his third postseason win – and first Super Bowl title – two weeks later. Minutes after that 20-17 upset of the St. Louis Rams, he flashed a broad smile while standing with both hands on top of the cap he wore with the bill facing backward.
That was some kid back then, Brady said. You really dont quite understand what has happened or what has been accomplished until you try so many times and you dont get to accomplish those things. Its very hard to win that final game of the year. Weve had a chance and lost a few.
Both were to the New York Giants – 17-14 in the 2007 season and 21-17 last season.
Brady had been a postseason sensation, winning his first 10 games and three Super Bowls in his first five seasons. Since then, hes 6-6 with no championships.
Still, Brady remains the consistent key to a team that earned its third straight playoff bye this season, its 10th in a row with at least 10 wins.
Hes won a lot of regular-season games, won a lot of playoff games, coach Bill Belichick said. What he does on a day-to-day basis, how he performs on the practice field, how he performs in games – whether theyre preseason, regular season, postseason, whatever it is – hes pretty consistent. I think you see that during the week, so it shows up on Sunday.
The Texans won their wild-card game, edging the Cincinnati Bengals 19-13 Saturday. And Brady is not taking them lightly.
Theres a lot to be concerned about, he said. Theyve got a great front, some very experienced players at linebacker, a very athletic secondary.
He expects the Texans to make some defensive changes from the previous meeting. But 6-foot-5 J.J. Watt and his ability to jump and knock down passes will still be at defensive end.