Of course Tom Brady was asked about the Patriots’ playoff elimination, and of course Brady answered that he wasn’t thinking about it.
There were no surprises on that topic Sunday after Brady led the Buccaneers to a comeback win over the Falcons. New England played at the same time and lost to the Dolphins, ensuring that the Patriots would miss the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. Brady said he wasn’t concerned with that.
“As far as the Patriots, they have their own thing going,” Brady told reporters, per NBC Sports. “I’ve really been focused on how my play needs to be at quarterback, the execution I need. They’re not really an opponent of mine.”
Brady had nearly lost to an Atlanta team with nothing to play for in Week 15, but then he found Antonio Brown on a game-winning 46-yard touchdown to complete a comeback from 17 points down. It pushed Tampa Bay (9-5) within reach of a postseason berth in Week 16.
In Miami, New England could only score four times on field goals in a 22-12 loss. It dropped the Patriots’ record to 6-8, locking in the first non-playoff season since 2008 (when Brady suffered a season-ending injury in the first game). It also ensured that New England would finish at or below .500 for the first time since 2000, Brady’s rookie season when he played in one game as a backup.
“Obviously, I have a lot of friends there,” Brady acknowledged Sunday, “a lot of great relationships, but they’ve been focused on what they need to do and I’ve been trying to focus on what my job is.”
The Patriots will be in the spotlight one final time this season in Week 16, when they play the Bills on “Monday Night Football.” It’s an especially negative light for the Pats because Buffalo just clinched the AFC East, the division won each of the past 11 years by New England and Brady.
Tampa Bay plays a national game in Week 16, too, a 1 p.m. ET kickoff Saturday against the Lions. A win secures the Buccaneers a spot in the postseason, which will mark the 17th consecutive season (not counting his injured 2008) that Brady will participate in the playoffs as a full-time starter.
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