Foxboro - Devin McCourty, 31, is in his ninth year and he has been to the playoffs nine times. Jason McCourty, his twin brother, is in his 10th year and he is in the playoffs for the first time. Given that Jason McCourty lacks the two Super Bowl rings of his twin brother, it is no surprise that his mother wanted to see Jason in the playoffs. Mothers, after all, like all their children to succeed in equal levels.
"The thing she most wanted was to see Jason in the playoffs," McCourty said. "I am sure she will be fired up to see Jason play in his first playoff game. She said it over and over again - she wanted him to get some success like I have had in the playoffs. The McCourty gang will be fired up Sunday."
McCourty, who left the final game of the season against New York Jets, should be ready to play for Sunday. He was a full participant in practice on Thursday. McCourty knows the Los Angeles Chargers (who just refers to them as the Chargers so he doesn't avoid the mistake of calling them the San Diego Chargers) are mentally tough given their 8-1 road record. McCourty said facing Rob Gronkowski in practice has given him experience against big receivers. Gronkowski and McCourty were drafted in the same year 2010.
"You can't make up for what you don't have in size, you just have to compete," McCourty said. "Get a hand on the ball - pull an arm. Doing whatever you can to wrestle balls out. We have a lot of guys in our secondary that do that. Everybody is usually covering guys that are bigger than them. The hardest part (about playing the Chargers) is tackling so we need to gang tackle on as many plays as possible."
McCourty knows that the Pats have little margin for error Sunday.
"We just have to go play our best football. Nothing else matters - our record, our rankings, our stats all that is out the window. If we don't play our best football Sunday that is end of the season."
McCourty is an admirer of Chargers QB Philip Rivers.
"He does a great job," McCourty said. "He yells and screams at the line of scrimmage. You can tell he watches a lot of film. He is trying to get them in the best play based on what the defense is in. He has great physical ability - throws the deep ball well. It is also a huge mental challenge - like going against Tom you can't give him everything. If you do he will just tear you apart. He is a very competitive guy. We played him before and it is going to go all the way down to the wire."
Devin appreciates the playoff opportunities more as a veteran. He knows he doesn't have many more.
"When you first get in the league - you go 14-2 in your rookie year and lose in the divisional round you think every time we get in the playoffs we have to win. It's a lot (of work) to get in the playoffs. As you get older, you realize football itself isn't guaranteed. It's a huge accomplishment to play in 16 games in year nine. Playing in the postseason is a huge accomplishment that I want to take full advantage of," McCourty said.
"I didn't realize that until year three. You get one year and guys are leaving, guys are retiring - released, traded, signed in free agency. You don't want to miss out on an opportunity if you have what it takes especially when you feel you have a special team."