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Tandem of Brady, Belichick stabilizes Patriots
The quarterback and his coach get results in the playoffs.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- On Tuesdays, Tom Brady meets privately with Bill Belichick for an hour or two, talking football and other subjects.
On Sundays, they usually win.
"There's no coach I'd rather play for," the New England Patriots quarterback said Wednesday.
"There's no quarterback I'd rather have," his coach said after the latest victory.
The members of that mutual admiration society smiled broadly at each other on the field last Sunday, moments after New England advanced to the AFC championship game with a 24-21 come-from-behind win over the San Diego Chargers.
Whether that scene will be repeated in Indianapolis this Sunday could depend on the bond they've developed, a relationship that has led to three Super Bowl titles in the last five seasons and a chance for another this season.
They may seem like an odd couple -- a handsome, 28-year-old dimple-chinned quarterback who dated an actress and appears on magazine covers, and a 54-year-old football junkie who wears gray sweat shirts and a scowl when asked a question he'd rather not answer.
But their focus on their jobs and their determination to win draw them together.
"Bill?" Brady said when asked about their relationship. "That may be the first time I've ever called him Bill. It's very good with Coach Belichick. As I've said before, we have the same goals."
The Patriots don't practice on Tuesdays, and that gives them time to get together.
"We usually meet on Tuesdays," Brady said. "Sometimes it's all football. Sometimes we talk about other stuff. We've been doing that for four years. It's a great relationship. Usually in the afternoon, we meet and we discuss how last week went, how we see this week going."
The emphasis, though, is on the upcoming game. They don't think celebrating a win or lamenting a loss two days after it occurred helps much against the next opponent.
Belichick, Brady said, is consistent in his mood and that's good for the players.
"He's never up and down," Brady said. "He's just always kind of the same whether you win or lose: 'We've always got to do this better. You've always got to do things good.'"
The quarterback with two Super Bowl MVP awards certainly can do better against the Colts. He threw three interceptions in San Diego, but was bailed out by several instances of poor judgment by the Chargers.
The costliest one came when safety Marlon McCree intercepted a ball on fourth down with less than 7 minutes left and the Chargers ahead 21-13 when they still could have gotten the ball if he knocked it down. Instead, he fumbled the ball on the return.
Indianapolis has allowed just 14 points in two playoff games and is playing perhaps its best defense of the season.
Brady, though, never gives up.
"He's a field general, man," Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs said. "Even if he's not having an up to par game in his eyes, he has the ability, somehow, some way, to forget all about it and go in and make the next play count. And even if that play doesn't [work], he forgets that one and continues to move on."
That attitude may have been strengthened by his meetings with Belichick, just as Belichick learned in his first NFL job as a 23-year-old assistant to Baltimore Colts coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975.
Belichick studied and broke down defenses in a tiny room at Memorial Stadium next to the office of then-Orioles manager Earl Weaver.
"It was just a cinderblock closet, really," Belichick said. "I probably learned more football in that room than any place else I've ever been. It was just like a graduate course in football."
Belichick also did the driving to work -- and listening -- with Marchibroda and two other assistants discussing football in the car.
"It was great," Belichick said, "to be able to absorb all that."
He made only $25 a week "before taxes," but Marchibroda bought him breakfast every morning.
"There was no financial reward to it, but there was a personal and a professional reward that I could never repay him for," Belichick said.
Now Belichick is the mentor in his Tuesday meetings with Brady, who makes a lot more than $25. But the knowledge both have of the game and their like-minded obsession with preparing for every eventuality has brought them together and brought the Patriots just one win away from another Super Bowl appearance.
Of course, the Colts also are 14-4 and they're unbeaten at home. And Peyton Manning, probably the best regular-season quarterback of his era, should have extra motivation to show he can succeed in the playoffs, where he is 5-6.
"It's exciting because 51/2 months of football games come down to 60 minutes of football," Brady said. "It should be just one of those classic games."