Tom Brady isn’t holding the past against the Baltimore Ravens. The New England Patriots quarterback looking towards the future between the two sides, which includes divisional-round game at 4:35 p.m. next Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
“Everything’s different at this point,” Brady told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Monday morning. “We can never change anything that has happened in the past, and neither can they. You can’t bring players out of retirement and they can’t either. It’s the guys we’ve got versus the guys they’ve got, which is an entirely new team that we have versus an entirely new team that they have.”
New England has met Baltimore in the postseason three times since January of 2010. The results sent Brady and the Patriots to elimination once in the AFC Wild Card and once in the AFC Championship Game, but also on to the Super Bowl once. Yet those results hold little bearing on the 37-year-old’s first game against the Ravens in over a year.
“There is some carryover. There are some characteristics that are the same, but these teams have established their own identities,” Brady said. “It’s going the be the Patriots’ 2014 version versus the Ravens’ 2014 version, and we go from there.”
Yet there is some system familiarity that can be turned to along the way.
“We’ll be able to evaluate some stuff scheme-wise that they could possibly do versus us. That’s always helpful, but it’ll be determined by what happens on the field Saturday night, not anything that’s happened in the past.”
Brady and the New England offense await Baltimore defense that sacked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times in the opening round of the playoffs. And that performance arrived after outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs combined for 29 sacks over the course of the 16-game regular season.
But the influence of Dumervil and Suggs has been distributed all across the Ravens’ 3-4 defense, with Pernell McPhee off the edge, Haloti Ngata back at nose tackle, defensive lineman Brandon Williams next to him, and rookie Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley behind them.
“They’ve got a good front,” Brady said. “We’ve faced quite a few teams that have good fronts this year. Obviously, Dumervil had a phenomenal year. He’s been a great player since he’s been in the league, I think that’s why Baltimore signed him. Suggs is as good as they get, Ngata is as good as they get, McPhee’s had a great year, and then they rotate some other guys in there, and Brandon Williams is a really good player.”
It is a front that looks a different than when the Patriots last lined up against it, and the same can be said of the defensive backfield, which has battled injuries. But collectively, the way Baltimore plays remains the same.
“They’ve got a good scheme. They’ve got a very fundamentally sound defense – they’re big, they’re physical, they’re tough, they can rush the quarterback. They make you earn it.”
Not long after sixth-seeded Ravens rushed the quarterback and defeated the third-seeded Steelers on Saturday, the first-seeded Patriots began preparations for earning it.
There are five days are left to do so.
“There’s no stone left unturned this week,” Brady said. “You study as much film as you possibly can. That’s what I was doing all day yesterday. So, you try to get ahead, you try to stay ahead, you don’t let anything you can control get in the way of your preparations. It’s just as much as you can do, as much as you can watch, as rested as your body can get. But you got to practice, practice hard, practice well and be mentally and physically prepared for the biggest game of our season.”