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Tom Brady: OL is 'heart and soul' of Patriots' offense

ATLANTA -- New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady lived a good life in the pocket during the 2018 regular season by being sacked just 21 times.

The ride continued through the first two playoff games, where he suffered just three quarterback hits without a sack.

A lot of Brady's success in staying upright arguably surrounds his ability to get rid of the ball quickly, an attribute that should come in handy against the Los Angeles Rams' pass rush in Super Bowl LIII.

Brady, however, is quick to lavish praise on his teammates along the front five, all of whom are charged with the responsibility of protecting him.

"What they've done this year, from Trent [Brown] coming in in a trade from San Francisco; Joe Thuney in his third year and starting three Super Bowls; David Andrews, another Georgia Bulldog. ... But then one of my great friends, Shaq [Mason], at Georgia Tech, where we're practicing; and Marcus [Cannon] has kind of manned that right tackle position for as well as he had; and Ted Karras, who doesn't play a lot, but is a great guy, a great teammate," Brady said Thursday. "They're just a great group. They work so well together. They got the best O-line coach [Dante Scarnecchia] in history coaching them who holds those guys to such a high standard every day. They're the heart and soul of our offense."

With the offensive line doing its best to keep its quarterback clean, Brady was pressured on just 17.9 percent of drop backs in 2018, which represented the lowest in the league, according to Next Gen Stats.

Brady's 21 times sacked, including the postseason, tied with Andrew Luck and Drew Brees as quarterbacks with the fewest sacks taken.

For members of the offensive line, maintaining a low sack total is a result of communication and technique among the group. Additionally, the players feel a sense of pride in keeping defenders away from one of the NFL's elite signal-callers.

"You always want to keep your quarterback clean," Thuney told Thursday. "You never want to see him get hit or anything. We just try to finish the plays as hard as we can, execute the best we can."

Cannon agreed.

"This is our job," the starting right tackle told "I feel we just enjoy being able to our job."

Meanwhile, the Patriots' offensive line could have its hands full against the likes of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, among other Rams defensive players.

But given the success of the past regular season against a variety of pass rushers, Brady is set to enter Super Sunday with a high level of confidence with the five players in front of him.

"Counting on those guys when we need it most," Brady said. "And, obviously, going into this game against the best D-line in football is a big challenge and that's what these games are all about."

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