FOXBOROUGH -- Tom Brady was 24 years old in his first season as a starter. It ended with a Super Bowl triumph.
Now he’s 35 and without a championship in seven years.
Yet as the time he has left to win another title decreases, the 13-year veteran doesn’t consider each new playoff chance more meaningful. For Brady, they’re all very important.
"From the day we’re born, I think we’re always one day closer to dying, since we’re a little kid," the New England Patriots quarterback said Thursday. "(But) I don’t quite look at it like" this chance means more.
"I know it’s meaningful for our whole team, what we’re attempting to accomplish," he said. "You don’t take these things for granted. It’s a privilege to be in this position that we’re in and certainly one of four teams to have played well enough over the course of the year to deserve the first-round bye."
The Patriots (12-4) find out this weekend who they’ll host in the divisional round on Jan. 13. The Houston Texans will be the opponent if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Saturday’s AFC wild-card game. If the Texans lose, the Patriots will face the winner of Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts.
They’ve played all three this season, beating the Colts 59-24 and Texans 42-14. They lost to the Ravens 31-30.
Regardless of the opponent,
"We’ve been working hard to figure out a bunch of things," he said. "There’s a packet full of things we need to do better and things that we’re really trying to work hard to improve on."
Brady will soon throw his first postseason pass since the final play of last season’s Super Bowl, a desperation heave that fell incomplete in the end zone, clinching the New York Giants’ 21-17 victory.
"I think every guy in the locker room wishes they could have done a little more," Brady said after the game.
The Patriots have a lot of work to do to get back to that spot, in New Orleans on Feb. 3. And bye weeks haven’t always been a successful steppingstone.
They had a bye in the 2010 season, then lost in the divisional round to the New York Jets, 28-21. The previous season, without a bye, they were beaten by the Baltimore Ravens 33-14 in the wild-card round. Both games were in Foxborough.