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Tom Brady Artfully Dodges Question About Patriots Missing Playoffs

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- If you expected Tom Brady to spike the football after he brought his Buccaneers team closer to a playoff berth with a tremendous comeback on the same day that the Patriots were officially eliminated from the playoff race, well, you haven't been paying much attention to Tom Brady.

Despite being forced out the door from the only NFL home he had ever known, the 43-year-old Brady has only spoken positively about the Patriots, Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, and anyone else from the New England organization when asked. And on Sunday, even in the glow of a 390-yard day and a 17-point comeback victory, Brady didn't crack.

The quarterback was asked a two-part question -- first for details on a missed pass to Rob Gronkowski, then on his feelings toward the Patriots officially being eliminated from postseason contention. Brady, a veteran's veteran of the sports media game, cracked a smile, knowing he could snake his way out of it if he chose to do so.

"Which question do you want me to answer?" a smiling Brady said. "The Gronk one?"

Tom Brady
Tom Brady smiling during his postgame press conference (Screen shot from YouTube/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Brady did answer the Gronkowski question before going into autopilot and detaching himself from any and all personal feelings he may have about the organization for which he played 20 seasons and won six Super Bowls.

"As far as the Patriots, they have their own thing going," Brady said. "I've really been focused on how my play needs to be at quarterback, the execution of mine. They're not really an opponent of mine. Obviously I have a lot of friends there, a lot of great relationships. But they've been focused on what they need to do, and I've been trying to focus on what my job is."

(Question begins at the 3:20 mark.)

Tom Brady on Bucs 'Poise' During Comeback Win | Press Conference by Tampa Bay Buccaneers on YouTube

With that, Brady thanked the reporters, wished them a Merry Christmas, fired off a thumbs up, and headed out of the room with his massive water bottle.

Brady -- who's proven with his 32 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 65.1 percent completion rate, and 97.5 passer rating that he's still plenty capable of playing the game at an extremely high level. Despite his public appearances, he likely does have some feelings inside that Quarterback Bot brain of his.

Yet Brady learned long ago that saying anything to the media doesn't really help anyone, so he tends to keep those feelings close to the vest. That's held true win or lose this year, as Brady's postgame video sessions have included very few mood swings toward the positive or the negative. So for now, we'll have to take that flash of a smile as an indication that the otherwise robotic Brady may be feeling a slight sense of personal satisfaction that he's proven a point.

He may not delight in his former teammates living in playoff-free misery. But as someone who for years has confidently stated for years that he believes he can play through age 45 but clearly didn't get a buy-in from his bosses, it's fair to say Brady has to have some extra pep in his step on this Monday.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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