Brady, Patriots heading for greater heights in Mexico
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — Tom Brady, fresh off his NFL-record 86th road win, is ready to take the New England Patriots to new heights, namely Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, where they’ll face the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
“I’m excited for it. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Brady said Friday. “I’ve never been to Mexico City. It’s nice that it’s there. When the schedule comes out you kind of figure out where you’re playing. It’s been the kind of game you look forward to and we’re playing against a really good football team in a really cool environment.
“So, it’ll be pretty memorable. I think everyone’s excited. It’s been a fun week to prepare.”
To get ready for the 7,200 feet of elevation they’ll be dealing with Sunday, the Patriots (7-2) stayed in Colorado for a week to acclimate to the high altitude.
The Patriots tied their own AFC record with their 12th consecutive road win in a 41-16 dismantling of the Denver Broncos last weekend.
Then, rather than flying home, coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots bused an hour south to the Air Force Academy. They trained at Falcon Field, the nation’s second-highest college football stadium at 6,621 feet above sea level, in between trips to see U.S. Olympians train and watching paratroopers and falcon demonstrations.
“I’m just ready to go and play. I’ve been looking forward to this game a long time,” wide receiver Danny Amendola said. “We’re playing a great team. We’ve had a good week of preparation. There’s a lot of football love in Mexico City and they’re really enthusiastic. They’re amped up, they’re ready for the NFL to get down there and we’re all excited, too. So, it’s going to be a fun week.”
Amendola said he appreciates the high-altitude training.
The defending Super Bowl champions stumbled to a 2-2 start but have successfully covered their warts to win five straight while outscoring their opponents by an average of 25-13. But Brady wouldn’t say that he senses that vibe like in years past when the Patriots found their groove about this time and sped toward the playoffs.
“I think it’s still a work in progress,” Brady said. “I mean, you look at adding a player like Martellus (Bennett) last week. I mean, things are always changing and evolving and we’re still trying to figure out what exactly we’re doing well.”
Once identified, those plays get extra attention so they can perfect them “and use them going forward to win the most important games,” Bray said. “We have a lot of important games coming up, starting with this one.”
The Patriots are in the midst of a stretch in which they’ll play five of six games away from home. Upon their return from Mexico City, they’ll host the Dolphins before trips to Buffalo, Miami and Pittsburgh.
The Patriots are hoping to capitalize on a week’s worth of midseason bonding in Colorado.
“Naturally being on the road like this, there’s less things to do,” Brady said. “You know, my family’s not here, my kids aren’t here. There’s nobody telling me what I did wrong in the house.”
He quickly looked at the cameras and apologized to his wife, Gisele Bundchen.
“I didn’t mean that, Gisele, so I take that back,” Brady said with a laugh.
Although the focus was on preparing for the Raiders, Brady said he’s enjoyed his time at the Air Force Academy.
“It’s been great. We’ve had a lot of fun. It’s been a great time and it couldn’t be any better. It’s a really beautiful place in a unique setting.”
The Raiders chose to stay at sea level leading up to the game at Azteca Stadium, same as they did last year when they beat the Houston Texans 27-20 in front of a partisan crowd of more than 76,000.
“They were pretty into it last year, I remember watching it and I watched a little bit of it this week just to kind of get a feel for the atmosphere,” Brady said. “They’re cheering loud the whole game. And it seems like there’s a lot of Raiders fans.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of Raiders fans. Hopefully, there will be a lot of Patriots fans, too. It’ll be really cool.”