News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 2, 2012

Patriots have long expected perfection

George Bremer

INDIANAPOLIS — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made no secret of his unhappiness with his play during the team’s 23-20 AFC championship victory against the Baltimore Ravens.

Brady hadn’t softened that stance much by Wednesday when he again met the media at the team’s hotel. He said he’s sorry if his statement detracted from the Patriots clinching their fifth Super Bowl appearance.

But he still feels he played poorly.

“I feel like when I played a game like I did a couple of weeks ago, quarterbacks never try to turn the ball over, and if there’s one thing that correlates to winning games, it’s turnovers,” Brady said. “To turn the ball over two times like I did, I didn’t feel like that was certainly my best performance.”

Left guard Logan Mankins doesn’t feel like Brady was out of line. He said the Patriots always have held themselves to higher standards.

“It starts with our head coach (Bill Belichick) and falls down through the team that everyone expects perfection around there,” Mankins said. “We’ve had games where we won and we came in the next day and everyone has the attitude that we lost because we didn’t play as well as we wanted to. We strive for perfection.”

Patience pays off: Belichick won just six of his first 20 games as New England’s head coach, and owner Bob Kraft was hearing loud calls from friends in the media to make a change.

But Kraft held strong, and Belichick threw his support behind the unproven Brady at quarterback. The Patriots rallied to win 10 of their last 12 regular-season contests and upset the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

In the decade since, Belichick and Brady have added two more championship rings and four more Super Bowl appearances. A victory Sunday would make the duo the winningest coach/quarterback combination of the Super Bowl era.

“I’ve learned in life that I don’t sit in judgment of other people,” Kraft said Wednesday. “I know what’s right for me. (Belichick) was right for me.There’s no prescribed formula. Think about it. The NFL is geared to parity and everyone being 8-8. If you do well, you draft higher and you have a tougher schedule. So you want to get managers that you can empower to be bold, do different things. When they take those risks and they work out, you back them.”

Gronk on the mend – Tight end Rob Gronkowski was unsure whether he would practice Wednesday. He said his injured ankle continues to improve, and he will continue to follow the training staff’s advice. The routine of asking the same questions and getting the same answers is getting old for Gronkowski and media alike.

But he said he understands why his ankle is getting so much attention.

“It’s the Super Bowl,” he said. “That’s why it’s all going on. If it was a regular-season game, it really wouldn’t matter. It’s the biggest game in sports history every year. It is what it is. You have just got to put your blinders on, and you have got to be focusing every single day on the playbook and the Giants. So, when it comes to game time, you are not distracted and you are just ready for the game.”