FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady found something encouraging in his toughest stretch of the season.
He knows he and his New England Patriots can come back from a huge deficit.
The two-time NFL Most Valuable Player had his three lowest passer ratings of the season in his past four games. His 68.9 on Dec. 16 in a 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers was his worst in his last 49 regular-season games. But at least he rallied them from a 31-3 deficit to tie that game with four touchdowns in 15 minutes.
“If we’re down 28 points again, which I hope we’re not, at least you can say, ‘Well, we’ve come back from this before,’ “ Brady said Wednesday. “So I think you can draw on those experiences, but this week is going to be its own separate game and we’re going to have to go out there and earn it.”
The Patriots showed that comeback ability a year ago against the Miami Dolphins, the team they’ll meet in the regular-season finale on Sunday. In last season’s matchup at Gillette Stadium in the next to last game before the playoffs, the Patriots overcame a 17-0 halftime deficit by scoring the next 27 points and won 27-24.
This year, the Patriots (11-4) have clinched the AFC East title. The Dolphins (7-8) are out of the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
New England can be seeded in any of the conference’s top four spots. The Houston Texans, Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens also will finish in the top four with the top two getting first-round byes.
But the Patriots could be eliminated from the No. 1 position by the time their game starts at 4:25 p.m.
Houston (12-3) would clinch it with a win over the Indianapolis Colts (10-5) in a 1 p.m. game. Denver (12-3) is currently in second place in the AFC and is home against the weak Kansas City Chiefs at 4:25 p.m. Baltimore (10-5) is in fourth and visits Cincinnati at 1 p.m.