MINNEAPOLIS: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots may have forged a reputation as the comeback kings of the NFL but the defending champions are determined to avoid another Houdini act in the Super Bowl.
The Patriots will aim to defend their title in Minneapolis on Sunday (Monday in Manila), a year after staging the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, when they recovered from 28-3 down to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime.
Brady and his teammates provided a timely reminder of their never-say-die approach in their AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this month, overturning deficits of 14-3 and 20-10 to win 24-20.
The decisive drive in the victory over the Jaguars was textbook Brady, marching upfield and threading a pinpoint pass to pick out Danny Amendola in the end zone.
It completed the 42nd fourth quarter comeback of Brady’s glittering career, and was the 40-year-old’s 53rd game-winning drive.
But Brady told reporters Tuesday he would prefer to lead from the front this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles, rather than come from behind as they were forced to do against Atlanta last year.
“There’s a great belief in this team that no matter what the circumstance, that we have enough to overcome it,” Brady said.
“But I don’t think we want to have to overcome that again this year. That was tough to do. We would prefer to get a lead, play ahead, play on our terms.
“It’s something that we talk about every week.
“But I realize it’s a 60-minute game. And however it shakes out, ultimately you’ve got to figure out how to win in the fourth quarter.
“And if it comes down to that, we’ve got the confidence that we can go down the field and win the game.”
Brady’s sentiments were shared by Bill Belichick, who could claim a sixth Super Bowl ring as head coach of the Patriots this weekend.
Asked if he relished the pressure of having to overturn late, fourth-quarter deficits, Belichick replied: “No.
“Nobody wants to be behind 28-3 and nobody wants to be behind 14-3. Whatever the situation we’re in we will try to prepare for it the best way we can.
“But we don’t want to be behind by two or three touchdowns in any game that we play.”
Brady, who could also win a record sixth Super Bowl on Sunday, said regardless of how the game unfolded he expected to maintain his composure.
“I’m pretty calm all the time,” he said. “I have my moments but for the most part, I’ve been around football for a long time and I know this game. Focus and composure is pretty important for a quarterback.”