FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The Patriots' streak of 11 postseason games as a favorite is over.
For the first time since the AFC championship game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, New England is a playoff underdog — against Manning and the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship game on Sunday.
Tom Brady & Co. are willing to use that as motivation for the game that will send the winner to the Super Bowl.
"We play with a chip on our shoulder," wide receiver Danny Amendola said. "We like to play that way."
Count the Patriots out?
Go right ahead, fullback James Develin said.
"I can't really speak for everyone, but I personally love the underdog story," he said. "It just kind of keeps a little bit of the pressure off you and I just like to prove the doubters wrong."
Brady sounded the first "woe is us" note during his weekly appearance on WEEI radio Monday.
"I know when we played Baltimore nobody picked us to win," Brady said. "I'm sure no one's going to pick us to win this week. We've had our backs against the wall for a while. Really, the whole season we've lost players, and teams have really counted us out.
"We've got a bunch of underdogs on our team, and we'll be an underdog again."
The Ravens were favored to extend their four-game winning streak in the next to last game of the regular season. Baltimore was at home, but the Patriots won 41-7.
Now New England (13-4) is preparing to go on the road again. And Brady's teammates figure if playing the underdog card against Denver (14-3) is good enough for him, it's good enough for them.
"If Tom's going to embrace it, I'm going to embrace it," New England running back LeGarrette Blount said with a smile. "That's the leader of this team, and if that's how he feels, I'm sure that's how most of the guys out here feel."
In that loss to the Colts seven years ago, the Patriots held an 18-point lead late in the first half but lost 38-34. Indianapolis went on to win the Super Bowl.