In his postgame conference yesterday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lauded his teams mental toughness. Here's the quote;
"Yeah. I think that’s been the mark of our team. We’ve won 11 of 12. We were down 31-3 at home and battled back. I think we’re going to be in it. We have a lot of tough guys, mentally tough guys. Whatever happens, like what happened on the first play of the game, you’ve got to overcome it. We made some key plays when we needed to. Shane made them, Wes [Welker] made them, Brandon [Lloyd] made them, so it was a great effort. Offensive line was awesome, as usual."
The team has had to deal with the injury of TE Rob Gronkowski, who is arguably the best tight end in the game. Although many of the offense's big plays come from the 6 ft 6 in, 260 lb All-Pro, the Patriots adjusted without him during the regular season. It looked as though Gronk would be ready to go for the playoffs, but unfortunately he re-injured the same forearm and will undergo season-ending surgery. The Patriots adjusted again. What also happened on the first offensive play of the game was an apparent injury to RB Danny Woodhead. Here's what Brady had to say when asked about the injury;
"Sure. Like I said, we had a whole plan built for him (Rob Gronkowski) and Woody (Danny Woodhead). We run the first series of the game and all those plans change. I think a little of it was ‘What are we going to do now? How are we going to adjust?’ But we seemed to settle in there midway through the first quarter and put together a pretty good game. Obviously it’s a bummer to lose anybody, but someone of Rob’s importance or Danny’s importance, we need guys to step in and fill the void, whether it’s this game or any game after."
It has recently been reported that Woodhead would have been able to return to the game if necessary, but the Pats offense never missed a beat without him. Second year RB Shane Vereen stepped in and excelled with 3 touchdowns and many clutch plays. It really speaks to the talent of Tom Brady, Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick, with how they handled the sudden changes and still put up 42 points. Regardless of the injuries, the Pats offense still clicked and will give its best effort against the Ravens in the AFC Championship next week.