FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Yes, Tom Brady still wants to play next season. And beyond.
But first up is Sunday’s regular-season finale and then the playoffs for the New England Patriots.
The 41-year-old Brady reiterated Friday that he plans to play in 2019, and then quickly tried to return the focus to this weekend’s game against the New York Jets.
“This week’s the one that matters and that’s what we got to do — take care of business this week,” he said.
Brady has long said he plans to play past this season. But a sore left knee and a poor performance in Sunday’s win over the Buffalo Bills brought back questions about the future.
Appearing on Westwood One Radio, Brady said: “I know I’ve talked about it for a long time. I have goals to not only play next year, but beyond that. And I’m going to try to do it as best I possibly can. I’m going to give it everything I have, like I always have. It will certainly be a challenge. I don’t take any of these things for granted, but I hope I can keep playing and I hope I can keep playing at a championship level.”
There have been times in the past when Brady rested for Week 17, but the AFC East champions are looking to clinch a first-round bye at home against the Jets. The Patriots (10-5) also have a long-shot chance of grabbing the top AFC seed for the postseason.
Playing at home in the playoffs could be a major factor for a team that is 7-0 at Gillette Stadium and 3-5 on the road.
“I think if we play well (at home), the crowd’s into it, but the one positive I see from being here is that we practice in the elements all the time,” Brady said. “Going out and executing in whatever conditions, hopefully we handle them better than our opponents.”
Brady is 27-7 against the Jets, winning his last five and eight of the last nine — including a 27-13 victory at the Meadowlands on Nov. 25. This week, he faces a 4-11 team that could be playing its final game under coach Todd Bowles and arrives at Gillette with nothing to lose.
“We’ve talked about all those things — we’ve prepared for all those things,” Brady said. “We’ve played this team a lot and they defend us a little differently each time that they play us. They’ve got good players, they’ve got a good scheme, they have a lot of defense, they have a lot of calls. They’re well-coached and they kind of pick what they want to do. I’m sure they’ll be aggressive and we’ve got to be able to counter that.”
Brady was 20 of 31 for 283 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Nov. 25 game. Rookie Sony Michel rushed for a season-high 133 yards in the victory.
Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold missed the first matchup with an injury, but has played well since returning.
NOTES: Brady heaped praise on former teammate Ben Watson, who plans to retire after this season. “Ben’s been a great friend for a long time, and (had) an incredible career,” Brady said. “He’ll certainly be missed. He had a great impact on this team and every team he played for because of the person he is. He’s just a great man, great father, great husband, great player, great teammate. … We’ll always be in touch. Wish him nothing but the very best.”
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