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New England Patriots Links 2/02/11 - Tom Brady AP Offensive Player of the Year

Mike Reiss highlights Tom Brady's comments from his interview with Fran Charles and Steve Mariucci of NFL Network.

What does winning Offensive Player of the Year mean to you?

"I appreciate it. I think obviously we had a great regular season as a team, but we just didn’t really take advantage of our opportunity there in the month of January. The two teams that are there playing this week certainly have earned it. They should be very proud. It’s going to be a great game."

Early in the season, the Patriots traded away Randy Moss and conventional wisdom was that you would no longer be able to stretch the field. But you finished up the [regular] season beautifully, going the last 11 [regular-season] games without throwing an interception. What was the difference for you during the second half of the season, which allowed the Patriots offense to take off?

"It’s definitely a collective effort by the group of skill players that we have and the offensive line. I think when you trade away a talent like that, a guy who is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, other guys have to step in and do their job and fill the void – a big void [left] by a great player. BenJarvus [Green-Ellis] rushed for 1,000 yards. Danny Woodhead made up for the loss of Kevin Faulk. Kevin was one of the best players that we’ve ever had on the team; Danny stepped in and played a great role for us. The group of receivers, with Deion [Branch] and Wes [Welker], and Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate, they did an incredible job, really committing themselves to the passing game -- that we were going to do whatever we needed to do to get the ball in the end zone. Obviously, the tight end position, with two young tight ends – Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, and with Alge [Crumpler], we had a great group of skill players. It was a lot of fun each week trying to find different ways to utilize all of those guys so that we can go into the game feeling really good, feeling prepared, with the game-plan [and] understanding that if we just went out and executed well that we were going to score some points."

Mike Reiss reports Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey thought there was a good chance the Patriots would select him in the Draft, but the Steelers took him before they had a chance.  He met with the Pats head coach three times and offers this take on Bill Belichick:

"He was a joking-around kind of dude," he said. "I don't know why everybody takes him so seriously."