More attention has been made about the surface below Tom Brady's feet and the ceiling above his head than on the three Super Bowl rings that adorn the New England Patriots quarterback's fingers.
Brady, the Vikings all know by now, is a three-time Super Bowl winner. In games where there is a roof over his head, Brady is 9-0. In games where there is artificial turf under his feet, the Patriots are 18-1.
The record that matters most to the Patriots? Since Brady took over for Drew Bledsoe midway through September, 2001, he has started 95 consecutive games. Over the past 95 games the Patriots are 73-22 (.768) under Brady's leadership.
"He's a really poised guy," said Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams. "He's got a great record on any surface. He's a tremendous quarterback in the pocket."
Said rookie Ray Edwards, who looks forward to chasing Brady for the first time in his career: "He's one of the best. Obviously, if you can get him running around it will help."
Brady has completed 56.1 percent of his passes this season and thrown 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions; his quarterback rating is 86.9. His completion percentage for a season has never dipped below 60 percent. But again, the only number that matters to Brady or the Patriots is 5-1, which is their current record that puts them atop the AFC East.
Clearly, the Vikings have spent hours of slicing and dicing game film of Brady. "I just read the other day, I guess, that Tom Brady is undefeated in domes," Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin said. "I thought that was funny because you can pick any variable that you want and he's got a pretty good record. Whether it's domes, turf, snow, rain… the guy's a winner."
Tomlin's defense has climbed into the top 10 in the NFL, a place the Vikings haven't been for years. Rather than obsess about how to contain Brady, Tomlin says his defense will keep their eyes on their strengths.
"We're not spending a bunch of time focusing on the obstacles that face us because if you get enamored by that, you can be pretty down," Tomlin said. "But we're going to focus on what we do, get ourselves ready to play, and we respect them in a big way."
One way to beat Brady is to get him on the move, Williams said.
"When he gets moving around he's a little less accurate," Williams said. "What we have to do is disrupt him and get after him. He gets the ball out in a tremendously quick manner. It'll be important that we get him off rhythm."
The Vikings have blitzed often this season, and with good success. But, Williams said, he thinks the front four might not always need blitzing help to pester Brady.
Vikings head coach Brad Childress is more familiar with Brady than others on the coaching staff. Even though he was an offensive specialist, Childress remembers what Brady did to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl two years ago when he completed 70 percent of his passes, threw two touchdowns and no interceptions and finished with a quarterback rating of 110.2.
Childress hopes he doesn't see an encore to that performance Monday night.
"He has a thorough knowledge of where all the keys are on the piano," Childress said. "I mean he can play them all. He knows where everybody is all the time. So he's kind of the guy that's dishing it out and he's doing a great job of it."
Defense Keeps Main Focus on Themselves
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