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Brady, Patriots set to face Mahomes, Chiefs in AFC title rematch

Patriots: New England Nation

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) warms up during an NFL football practice, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Tom Brady wanted to make one thing clear: He did not injure his toe during a tryout to become the New England Patriots’ new placekicker.

“Nope, that’s not how I hurt it and I’m not the new kicker,” the star quarterback said.

The 42-year-old Brady actually has kicked in the NFL. He’s punted three times in 20 seasons, with a long of 48 yards against Denver in the 2011 playoffs.

But the Patriots’ search for a new place-kicker — and they still did not have one present at practice on Friday following the release of Kai Forbath earlier in the week — will have to go on without Brady, who is focusing his preparation on the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense prior to Sunday’s home game.

It’s a rematch of last season’s AFC championship game, a 37-31 New England victory in overtime at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Patriots enter at 10-2, having lost 28-22 at Houston last Sunday. The Chiefs are 8-4 and have won their last two games.

The Patriots traditionally bounce back well from losses, and Brady said it was because Bill Belichick puts the team in the proper frame of mind.

“There’s been a lot of urgency, I think, both when we win and when we lose,” Brady said. “Coach puts us right back into the mode of preparation, and gets us ready to play a game. This is a big one, it’s on our schedule next, and it’s a big challenge for us.”

Brady said there are changes in the Chiefs’ defense from last year’s AFC title game, which was to be expected with the hiring of Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator.

“They have a lot of playmakers and have added some guys that are making a lot of plays for them,” Brady said. “(Defensive end) Frank Clark, (safety) Tyrann Mathieu, and they have guys that have been there, (safety Daniel) Sorenson, (cornerback Bashaud) Breeland’s a good player, (cornerback Charvarius) Ward was there last year, so, I’ve got a lot of respect for this defense. They make you earn it.”

In the midst of his film study, however, Brady said he couldn’t help but be impressed by the play of his opposite number, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“There’s a lot of great traits, as a player and a leader,” Brady said. “There are things that he does that are hard to teach.”

Despite missing two games with a dislocated right kneecap, Mahomes has thrown for 2,983 yards and 20 touchdowns with just two interceptions, completing 64.5% of his passes.

Brady is averaging 26 fewer passing yards per game and has thrown 18 TD passes with six interceptions, completing 61.1 percent of his tosses.

“He sees plays to make that a lot of other quarterbacks wouldn’t see, just because of his ability to do it,” Brady said of the third-year veteran. “He’s just a phenomenal player, and he picked up this year where he left off last year.”

Brady, 18 years older than Mahomes, went out of his way at Arrowhead last year to seek out his young foe in the lockers and speak at length with him, something he couldn’t do on the field.

“He’s a great player and he had a great season,” Brady said. “I think that with the celebration and so forth that went on on the field after the game, I didn’t get a chance to tell him that. We’re all in this sport and we all watch each other play a lot of football. We study everyone and you kind of gain admiration for what they do and how they do it.”

“It’s not a big group of guys that are doing it at one particular time,” he said, “and for five months of my life, I’m pretty much totally dedicated to football and watching tape, and watching quarterbacks do things. We have a lot of things in common.”

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