FOXBORO, MA (Reuters) - New England quarterback Tom Brady notched a playoff win for the first time in four seasons and said victories, not records, are his number one priority.
The three-times Super Bowl winner schooled his highly-touted young opponent Tim Tebow in leading the Patriots to a 45-10 thrashing of the Denver Broncos on Saturday in the AFC divisional playoff game.
“The team revolves around him,” Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez said of Brady. “When he’s ready, we’re all ready.”
Brady threw six touchdown passes, matching a playoff single-game record and moving into third place all-time among NFL quarterbacks in the postseason.
He threw for 363 total yards, a franchise playoff record.
Brady, 34, now owns the second highest number of playoff wins for an NFL quarterback (15) and can tie Joe Montana for the record next week in the AFC Championship game.
The quarterback said setting records came a distant second to notching wins, especially after the embarrassment of back-to-back playoff losses on home turf.
“I have no idea what records and stuff like that. We try to go out and execute well,” Brady said after the game.
”It’s all about winning. You lose a few playoff games, and it’s a very bitter way to end the season, and it sits on your mind for quite a long time.
“For us to come out and play the way we did, have a very solid performance in the most important game of the year, is very gratifying.”
Rob Gronkowski, another Patriots tight end who had three touchdown grabs including one that Brady called ”one of the best catches I’ve every seen, praised the quarterback.
“He was on fire, man. That’s just how he is, this time just throwing the ball in the playoffs just like any other game. It was overall a good offense, good defense, team victory,” he said.
Brady’s blistering assault saw the Patriots score five touchdowns before half-time and left Denver reeling.
“What can you say? He’s Tom Brady,” said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey. “If you’re not ready to punch him in the mouth, he’s going to eat you up all night.”
The much-talked about dual between the veteran Brady and the upstart Tebow never got going.
The Denver quarterback, whose public displays of Christian faith have made him a pop-culture phenomenon, had the game from hell.
Sacked five times on the night, Tebow, 24, completed only three passes in the first half. At one point Brady had more touchdown passes than Tebow had completions.
Brady said the Patriots had not followed the followed the lead of many fans and the media in focusing single-mindedly on Tebow.
“We were focused on the entire Denver Bronco team. We knew what kind of challenges they presented,” he added.
Editing by Peter Rutherford