QUARTERBACK TOM BRADY
(On how much it helps the team's confidence to have so many players healthy)
"I think you'd like to play these games as healthy as possible. It's hard to say after 17 games, but you never know how it's going to play out. There's years where I've been a part of it where we've been very healthy, other years where we haven't. We obviously feel pretty good about where we're at, so that's good."
(On if he leans on being a home underdog as external motivation)
"They're going to make those decisions and we have to go out there and play well. It's not really who is favored or not favored, it's who plays the best. I've never really paid attention to those things. I just try to go play the best I can."
(On if he reminds his teammates that there are no second chances in the playoffs)
"Yeah, I feel there's a lot urgency naturally this week. Everyone knows what we're playing for – you're playing for a chance to move on. There's no, 'Oh, we were close,' or, 'It was almost there. Two more plays.' Look at two seasons ago – we ended up winning it all [and] there was a lot of really close plays. Last year, it comes down to plays at the end of the game that they made and we didn't. You're going to have make the plays at the end. It's tough because there's good teams and there's little margin of error. All these teams are well-coached, they've got good offenses, good defenses, they've got a lot of good playmakers. These are the best teams that are playing right now and you've got to play [well] if you want to advance."
(On if the Buccaneers are poised to make plays at the end of a game given what they've done this year)
"I think there's been quite a few of those situations where they've come up and we've executed well and won. There's other times where we've executed pretty well and then missed a couple two-point conversions, I think Green Bay and Pittsburgh. And then there's some where we didn't execute well. Yeah, hopefully it's one of those games where…hopefully it doesn't come down to that, but if it does I think we have confidence we can pull it out. I'm sure they have confidence, too. They're a good football team, they're really well-coached, they've got really a good offense. We've played them now multiple times – once this year, once last year – so I think we know what we're dealing with and they're very, very good, with very good players, very good playmakers on both sides of the ball."
(On having the most postseason wins in NFL history)
"For me, it's just a blessing for me to have those types of memories and experiences. I've been very blessed to be a part of great teams that got to this point and then had a lot of big wins. That's who everyone wants to play for. They want to play in the playoffs. I'm sure you guys feel it, we feel it too. You get more texts this week, you get more people wanting to come to the game, you get more people paying attention, so you want to come through."
(On having to throw so many passes this season)
"I think we're just every week trying to figure out different ways to [win]. I've always said, it just comes down to scoring points and how you put yourself in a position to score points. If you've got to run it, great. I've been a part of a lot of those games. If you need to throw it a lot because that's what the situation calls for…for one reason or another it's just the way the year went. You've got to stay balanced and you've got to run the ball. I think one thing we did really well against them the first time we played was we ran the ball really well, and that alleviated a lot of the pressure from the passing game. I think the teams that are playing well now do run the ball pretty well. We're going to have to do it, but they've got some good players. They've got some very athletic linebackers, obviously a very good D-Line. So it's tough. It's going to be a big challenge."
(On how important the center position is for his comfort level)
"Uh, very. Yeah, very. It's a very important position. There's a part of that that is very nice to know exactly what you're dealing with. Sometimes it's new and you've just got to deal [with it]. Every position deals with it. I think quarterback-center is naturally unique. I'm sure if you're one safety on the back end and there's another safety you play with all year and then he's out, the calls are a little different, the communication's a little different. I'm sure it's the same way at D-Line – you've been playing next to a guy. That's the way it is at quarterback, too, and that's why it's the ultimate team sport. You've got to have a lot of people come through when guys get banged up and injured and knocked out. Hopefully we'll see whoever's ready to go out there who can go out there and play well."
(On him wearing a throwback orange Buccaneers jersey and his thoughts on that jersey)
"It's pretty sweet. There's a good picture of Ronde [Barber] in the hallway wearing it and it looks pretty good. It was a gift from Doug Williams. I love it. It's a great-looking jersey."
(On if he got Alex Guerrero to get his hands on C Ryan Jensen this week)
"As much as possible, as much as possible. I'm trying to get everyone in there to be as healthy as we can be, for sure."
(On playing against the Cowboys)
"Yeah, they've got a great team. I've played them quite a bit over the years and I have a lot of respect for the organization, their history, a lot of great players. But all of it's about three hours on Sunday – Monday night – and everything's going to come down to what we do those three hours. Nothing in the past, nothing about the color jerseys we're wearing. It's who's playing, what we're doing, how we're executing, how we're executing under pressure. That's what it's going to come down to."
(On if there is a link between how a team finishes a regular season and how it fares in the playoffs)
"It's not the best team that wins, it's the team that plays the best [that] wins. I was part of a team that won every game until the Super Bowl and we didn't play the best that day and we lost, and you don't end up reaching your goal. I've been on the other end of it where I was a big underdog, my first year starting against the Rams, and we played better than they did that day. But that's all that matters. That's what single elimination is all about. You've got to be at your best in that moment. It could come down to a kick, it could come down to a Hail Mary, it could come down to a situational play at the end, a third-and-one. Hopefully all the preparation has [gotten] us to this point and we're prepared for what we're about to face, a very tough hard-nosed team that plays well, that's been good for a long time, and we're going to have to go play well."
(On what he makes of reports linking him to other teams)
"I don't know. You guys have got to write something new every day, so I just try to show up and do my job."
SAFETY ANTOINE WINFIELD JR.
(On being the underdog against the Cowboys)
"It's a game – we're going to go out there and give it our best, regardless of who thinks we're underdogs or if we're the top dog. It doesn't matter – we're going to go out there and give it our best."
(On if being an underdog puts a chip on his shoulder)
"No, not at all."
(On the secondary being fully healthy)
"It's going to be nice. This season [has had] a lot of ups and downs, a lot of moving pieces – it's going to be really nice to have those guys back there."
(On if the secondary is able to do more when all the starters are healthy)
"Yeah, for sure, especially when we're all healthy. It allows us to move around a little bit more, for sure."
(On how big turnovers will be on Monday night)
"Huge. Huge. That's what ultimately wins these games – especially in the playoffs. When we had our run, turnovers were a huge key. We've got to make sure we do our best to create takeaways and give our offense more opportunities with the ball."
(On if forcing turnovers has been a point of emphasis this week)
"Yeah, for sure. We talked about it because we know it's important so we've got to make it happen."
(On if players understand that it's win-or-go-home)
"Yeah, everybody knows. It's win-or-go-home so all of those emotions are out there – everybody is ready to play. It's going to be a fun, exciting game – Monday night, primetime, playoffs – everybody is excited."
(On if record matters in the postseason)
"Nothing matters. Anything that happened in the past doesn't matter anymore. It's a one-game season – it's you win or you go home."
(On how the energy feels different in the playoffs)
"I would say it's the aspect of you don't know if this is going to be your last game or not. It's either we win, or we go home, like I said before. All those emotions are out there because you never know how the outcome is going to go. But we've got to do our best to allow us to have some more games this season."
(On not taking the playoffs for granted after making it in his first three seasons)
"I don't take it for granted at all. It's funny, someone asked me that yesterday – I forgot who it was. But I was talking to my dad and he was saying congratulations and how hard it is to get to the playoffs in general. And I was like, 'Yeah, you're right, it is tough.' I'm blessed that this is my third go at the playoffs – I'm blessed in that aspect. But it is crazy and it's hard to get there, so I don't take anything for granted."
(On what he tells the young guys that haven't experienced the playoffs yet
"Just to be ready – bright lights, it's going to be super fun, the atmosphere is going to be crazy – so, just to get their minds right and to get prepared."