By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

FOXBORO (CBS) — Tom Brady has done this before. Too many times, in fact, to the point where the individual games are getting more and more difficult to separate from each other as the quarterback navigates his 18th NFL season for the Patriots.

Read: Here’s How Ridiculous Patriots’ Run Of Success Is Under Belichick And Brady

And while the quarterback tends to keep just about everything close to the vest with regard to his emotions, the 40-year-old did appear to be slightly more reflective than usual when standing at the podium after completing the eighth postseason fourth-quarter comeback of his Hall of Fame career.

“You cherish these moments and opportunities, and I know we’ve had quite a few of them, which we’ve been very blessed to do,” Brady said after the Patriots’ 24-20 win over the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game. “It’s just been an unbelievable run, and I think everyone should be really proud of what we accomplished. This is a different team than last year’s team. It didn’t look good at 2-2 and you just keep showing up to work every day, and we sit in these chairs and Coach Belichick gets up here and he demands a lot out of us and he tries to get the most out of us every day. It’s not always great. Sometimes it’s pretty average and then you’re just trying to get better and better and get to the point where you can make the fourth quarter of a game and try to play well enough to get yourself into the next one.

“So, just proud of our team, proud of what we accomplished. It’s pretty amazing and I’m proud of this team.”

Tom Brady celebrates the AFC Championship Game victory. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Brady said that on Wednesday afternoon, he wasn’t entirely sure whether or not he’d be able to even suit up for this game. He suffered an injury when handing the ball off during practice on Wednesday — an otherwise mundane play that resulted in his hand getting ripped open. But with some stitches and a wrap on his throwing hand on Sunday, you’d never know that Brady was playing hurt.

“I thought out of all the plays, my season can’t end on a handoff in practice,” Brady said Sunday. “We didn’t come this far to end on a handoff. It’s just one of those things. So I came in the training room and just was looking at my hand and wasn’t quite sure what happened, and everyone did a great job kind of getting me ready and the training staff and the doctors and Alex [Guerrero]. It was a great team effort. Without that, I definitely wouldn’t be playing.”

Facing the No. 1-ranked pass defense in the NFL, Brady completed 26 of his 38 passes for 290 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and he also showed a willingness to stick his nose into some big bodies when he took a quarterback sneak for two yards to pick up a critical first down prior to throwing the game-winning touchdown.

Read: Four Ups, Four Downs From Patriots’ Thrilling Win Over Jaguars In AFC Title Game

As a result, Brady didn’t really want to admit that the wrap on his right hand affected him.

“I’d rather not wear it,” Brady said of the wrap. “But, I think it sounds kind of arrogant to say, ‘Oh yeah, it bothered me,’ when we had a pretty good game. So, I wouldn’t say that. Doesn’t that sound arrogant if I said that? It’s like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game,’ and he won the tournament.”

The win was spectacular, but Brady certainly didn’t do it alone. Brandin Cooks caught six passes for 100 yards and drew 68 yards in penalties from Jaguars defensive backs. The defense forced four punts and a turnover on downs in the second half. And Danny Amendola did it all, catching two touchdowns, returning a punt 20 yards, and even completing a pass for 20 yards.

Related: Tom Brady Sheds Light On Severity Of Hand Injury

While Amendola’s performance was incredible in its own right, he was happy to heap praise upon his quarterback after the win.

“Tommy’s the best. He’s the toughest guy I’ve ever met — physically, mentally,” Amendola said. “If there is anything that happens to Tom, I know he can handle it. It was unfortunate to see him get injured mid-week. I know mentally it probably stressed him out a bit and physically I know it’s hard to throw a football with stitches in your thumb. Everybody knows how tough he is. Everybody knows that he’s our leader. It’s a testament to his career, his personality, the man he is. Not only is he the best player in our locker room but he gets everybody else to play well and step their game up and that’s why he’s the best.”

The Jaguars appeared to be in position to win the game, holding a 20-10 lead midway through the fourth quarter. But a young, inexperienced team like the Jaguars can only hang with the Patriots in Foxboro for so long. Even the Jaguars seemed to know that.

“If you give him time he will pick you apart,” safety Tashaun Gipson said. “He is the greatest quarterback to ever play this game. You can never have a safe lead with 12 at the helm. We knew we had to keep our foot on the gas. That’s Tom Brady, the greatest to ever lace up the cleats at the quarterback position. He went out there and he played good football. ”

“They just made more plays than us, at the end of the day. That’s all I can really say. They just made more plays,” linebacker Myles Jack said in the losing locker room. “We wanted to win, we were fighting, fighting, fighting. And then New England became New England in that second half.”

Veteran safety Barry Church, who took a 15-yard penalty for a high hit that knocked Rob Gronkowski out of the game before halftime, said that Brady was … Brady.

“They were just able to make plays,” Church said. “He was able to step up, just buy an extra little second of more time, throw a pass just a little different. … He’s the best for a reason, and he proved it today.”

Bill Belichick has seen every single pass Brady has thrown as a professional, and he’s no doubt impressed with the work of his quarterback. Still, Belichick likes to zag when the world expects him to zig, and so he was quick to stop anyone from going too far with their praise of the quarterback playing through an injury on his throwing hand.

“I mean, look, Tom did a great job and he’s a tough guy. We all know that, alright?” Belichick said. “But we’re not talking about open-heart surgery here.”

That may be true, and Belichick’s always eager to prevent anyone’s head from getting too big. But being a student of the game, Belichick knows how rare it is for any quarterback to have this type of run of success in this league.

Brady seemed to bask in it just a little bit extra after the win.

“I’d have thought you were crazy to think that or I was crazy to think that,” Brady said when asked how he’d have reacted in the year 2000 if someone told him he’d have a chance to win three Super Bowls in four years twice in his career. “This has just all been – I guess it’s my life, so I’m living it and it feels very natural and normal just because I wake up every day and I feel very much the same as I did when I walked in here 18 years ago, I really do. It’s a great privilege to play here and it’s a great privilege to play in the NFL, and I try to represent the team well, I try to represent my family, I try to do things the right way and I’m very blessed. I could never imagine getting the kind of team achievements we’ve done and had. I mean, I don’t think anyone can ever take those for granted. These are pretty amazing times for all of us – fans included, players, coaches, everyone. It’s very special.”

Realistically, Brady will have to retire at some point. Whether that’s in the next few years or five years down the line, it’s hard to forecast in a sport as violent as football. But with another hallmark win added to the collection, and with a record eighth Super Bowl start on the horizon, Brady seemed to at least recognize that this run is historic, and it cannot last forever.

He also knows that just making the Super Bowl without winning the game doesn’t mean much to anybody.

“Great leadership and it’s just been a great year,” Brady said. “It’d be really great if we take care of business in a couple weeks. So we’ll see.”

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

Comments (30)
  1. Likely the only handoff in the history of football on any level that’s resulted in a lacerated hand.

  2. Tom Brady is a freaking stud! The best of the best! Last year he created the most miraculous comeback in Super Bowl history and he continues to amaze! The NFL is going to miss him when he retires! He is a true champion! Can’t wait to see him destroy the Eagles!

  3. chrismireya says:

    I’m a Cowboys fan. However, I am also a fan of greatness. Brady and Belichick will do down as the great QB and coach in NFL history. There is a huge chasm between those two and the next tier of greatness.

  4. How much of what we see and believe in these championship games is honest play? Only a handful of insiders know the truth no doubt. For decades we have watched great games where championships are won or lost or even the chance to be in the playoffs where the coach makes an absolutely ridiculous decision that loses the game. Or, a referee a makes a call whereby he appears to be totally blind or doesn’t see a penalty right in front of his face that determines the outcome. Or, a player makes a play that just never happens in Pro Sports which determines the loss of the game, Yet the fans are still believing this sport is legitimate? Oh please……..wake up folks. I am talking about blatant corruption at it’s finest and yet there are those that refuse to accept this fact.

    This “game” is a business. a corporation, It is not an entertainment sport any longer and hasn’t been one for 20 years at least or more. It has gotten more and more corrupt as the years have gone by. Just like our government or hadn’t you noticed that either? How many corrupt lawyers and judges and Congressmen have we seen in about the same 20 plus years?

    How about Wall Street? How much more corrupt can they get? Or the banks? And yet there are those everyday fans that spend their paychecks on so much paraphernalia and game tickets with high dollar prices that cut into the family food bill or maybe an auto payment just to go berzerk at the games. I believe the everyday games are the basic truthful and honest games for the most part. But, it is those sports betting point spread games that lead up to the championship finale that have the controlled outcomes. The NFL has to be in cahoots with Vegas when the big money is at stake. That is how it all works, for the betterment of the high dollar cabal of millionaire/billionaire members. They can’t take a chance on “chance”. They need guaranteed wins.

    Of course the propaganda media sports writers can’t agree with me as their “insider” bosses would dump them flat. The loco average Joe fans can’t agree as they are too blind with team enthusiasm to see. And the highfalutin that have money to burn knowing good and well how the corruption exists but can’t speak out because their businesses are involved in the very same type of sinister corruption for the almighty dollar.

    So, even Brady’s hand that got mysteriously damaged in practice affected the point spread and the betting. Just like in politics, nothing we see is by accident but very well planned and thought out to benefit the people that control the MONEY!

    1. Tim Cohen says:

      You are just a bitter whiner.

  5. Why weren’t the referee’s invited to the victory celebration? Patriot’s “12th Man”.

  6. A ploy to increase viewership and attendance at Super bowl.

  7. Without the officials to win the game for them the Pats are just an also ran team. Bad calls and invisible penelties, and now mysterious whistles that save the game, all point to the fact that they officials are as biased and corrupt as they come. And its not just the Pats who are routinely blessed with the weird and unusual hgelp, Green Bay at home and the seahawks at home also get the benefit of some really beneficial officiating, but the absolute winner is the Pats, who never need to worry about anything since the officials will always make a “call” when they most need the help./

    1. James Lawson says:

      Your team whoever it is lost. Get over it. There were no questionable calls in this game. The Pats get screwed on a lot of calls too but no one wants to notice those.

    2. That game was rigged.No Penalties for New Jingland? A touchdown of 47 yards of which 45 were from questionable penalties? The playoff game in 2006 when the Putriots beat the Chargers was a game the Putriots cheated to win. (Filming the snap and radioing the defense). They NEED the Corrupt NFL to win. Its not about Brady. Its about money.

  8. Keith Panco says:

    Was there a NFL game on this weekend? Are people still watching The BLMNFL?

  9. Saw the picture of Brady with all the rings and it reminded me of the picture of Yogi Berra with a ring for each finger and thumb.

  10. Stitches . . . and pain killers in the blood . . . . . Foles will make history!!!

  11. .Any sport that is utterly dominated by a single player or team is inherently a weak sport and bores me…!

  12. Tom Brady: I’m so proud of what this team has accomplished.

    Translation: I’m so glad we found yet another way to cheat. The refs were great in handing us the game as well. I’m going to go spoon tonight with Jim Nantz.

  13. eshults5 says:

    I think Eagles are going to win. Brady is GOAT but Eagles have better dlines and olines, and that’s where the game will be won.

  14. Steve Austin says:

    I want Tom Brady to have my baby!

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