The Patriots defeated the Bills 24-12 on Sunday to win their 10th straight division title. They also became the first team to earn playoff berths in 10 straight seasons.
But it wasn’t a banner day for Tom Brady, who threw for just 126 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
It was Brady’s lowest passing total this season, his third game with multiple interceptions and his 48.3 passer rating was his lowest in a dozen years.
But despite Brady’s struggles last week and in recent weeks, he doesn’t plan on calling it quits anytime soon. He’s already said he wants to return next season.
“I absolutely believe I will [return next season]. I know I’ve talked about it for a long time: I have goals to not only play next year, but beyond that,” Brady said in his weekly radio interview on Westwood One. “I’m going to try to do it as best I possibly can. I’m going to give it everything I have like I always have.
“It will certainly be a challenge. I don’t take any of these things for granted, but I hope I can keep playing, and I hope I can keep playing at a championship level.”
The 41-year-old Brady has looked his age over the second half of the season. Brady had 16 touchdowns over his first seven games, but has just nine touchdowns over the last eight games.
Do you think Tom Brady will be the Patriots starting QB beyond next season?
Yes: 67% (66 Votes)
No: 33% (32 Votes)
Brady is under contract through next season after restructuring his deal before this season. No quarterback has ever started more than 10 games in a season after turning 41.
There’s been speculation that Brady has been playing with a knee injury and he has appeared on the injury report at times. But Brady downplayed any issues with his health, saying everyone is playing hurt at this time of the year.
“I’m feeling really good,” Brady said of his health. “It’s been 15 weeks of football and there’s always bumps and bruises you deal with. But I’m feeling great for this time of year. I’ll take it every year to be feeling as good as I am at this time of the season.”
Brady has said for years that he wants to play into his mid-40s, with 45 as a goal. Steve DeBerg, at age 44, is the oldest quarterback in NFL history to start a game. He set the record in 1998.
“I always said my mid-40s,” Brady said before the 2017 season. “And naturally that means around 45. If I get there and I still feel like I do today, I don’t see why I wouldn’t want to continue.”
But Brady also said he wants to go out on his own terms and if his level of play continues to decline at the rate it has this season, the Patriots may not give him the choice of sticking around another four years.
“My love for the sport will never go away. I don’t think at 45 it will go away,” Brady said. “At some point, everybody moves on. Some people don’t do it on their terms. I want it to be on my terms. I’ve got to make appropriate choices on how to do that, how to put myself in the best position to reach my long-term goals.”
The Patriots have clinched a home playoff game by winning their division, but they can still clinch a first-round bye on Sunday.
If they beat the Jets, or if the Texans lose to the Jags, New England will clinch a first-round bye for the ninth consecutive season.