Editor’s note: This is the final part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Patriots matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m., at Gilette Stadium.
Raiders FS Charles Woodson vs. Patriots QB Tom Brady
Tale of the tape:
Woodson (24): 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, 17th season, Michigan
Brady (12): 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, 15th season, Michigan
Tom Brady and Charles Woodson have known each other nearly two decades. The pair last player together at Michigan in 1998, when Woodson won the Heisman Trophy and helped the Wolverines win a national title. At the time, Brady was the backup quarterback.
Since then, the two have soared into rarified air. Both will eventually join the Pro Football Hall of Fame thanks to great careers that are still going strong.
While quarterbacks can play into their late 30s, Woodson is a physical marvel. Playing defensive back at 37 years old is virtually unheard of, but Woodson keeps on ticking. The converted cornerback is a better safety than he was a year ago, taking better angles and being more active in the run game with strong safety Tyvon Branch to back him up.
Woodson is playing with tremendous passion this year –- it could be his last -– and expressed frustration with the Raiders 0-2 start. “We suck” travelled quickly around the country, as did public questioning of whether the Raiders’ misgivings are correctable.
“I think it’s frustration when a guy like Charles is never going to accept losing,” Brady said. “When you talk with emotion after a game, just after you lose a tough game, it is emotional. It should mean a lot. I know it means a lot to him.”
Brady is made from the same cloth. He’s as competitive as ever, which makes him virtually unstoppable when it’s combined with scheme mastery and top-tier talent. His .772 winning percentage is the best of the Super Bowl era. He exceeded 4,000 yards last year with an unheralded supporting cast, proving he can pick defenses apart.
Brady is supremely confident in that fact, but he remains wary of Woodson’s veteran savvy.
“Charles and I have known each other for 20 years,” Brady said. “I have a lot of respect for him as a player, as a person, as a friend, and he looks phenomenal back there. He’s a big playmaker for the defense, and he gets his hands on a lot of footballs, not only in the pass game and the run game. He’s trying to strip the ball on every play. He’s got great anticipation. I really have to know where he’s at on every play.”