It's only Week 5, but the Patriots are in full lockdown mode in terms of their determination to avoid any hint of controversy before playing the Jets for the first time since their divisional playoff loss to Rex Ryan's big-talking team last January. Quarterback Tom Brady parried a couple of questions about criticism from Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie in the playoffs, and when a New York-based reporter circled back for a third try, Brady ended his weekly press conference halfway through its scheduled 10-minute period and walked out.
Brady said the Jets' 28-21 playoff upset at Gillette Stadium, where Sunday's game will be played, is not a source of motivation this season. "That was a long time ago," Brady said. "That game doesn't have much bearing on this week. We're a different team."
Asked if he planned to say anything to fire up the home crowd leading up to the game, Brady smiled and said he's "not joking around this year."
The next question was about Cromartie, who complained about Brady's "antics" during the Pats' 45-3 pasting of the Jets in a Monday night game last season, and the cornerback called the QB an unprintable name that roughly equates to "jerk."
"I don't care what he says about me," said Brady, who went on to praise Cromartie's abilities. "He's very good. An excellent player. They have two very good corners in their regular defense [together with Darrelle Revis]. They're both fast, both physical. They're very disruptive. They lead the league in pass defense. That tells you everything you want to know about them."
Although the Jets (2-2) are coming off two straight losses in which they have allowed 34 points in each, Brady lauded their defensive prowess, citing the statistical excellence of their pass defense in particular. But when Brady was asked again whether he felt Cromartie's comments were unfair toward Brady, the quarterback simply offered a big smile and closed the show, saying, "I really don't care what he says. Thanks, guys."