FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The 9-1 New England Patriots host the 6-4 Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in a matchup of two of the NFL's marquee franchises, and quarterback Tom Brady had something to get off his chest.
"I've really not liked the Cowboys since coming out of the womb," he said Wednesday with a touch of humor.
Brady, a native of San Mateo, California, who grew up a San Francisco 49ers fan, sparked laughter before turning serious.
"I've got a lot of respect for those guys. They've had a great winning organization, and a lot of great players in their history," he said. "As a Niners fan, you play the Cowboys, and every time they'd hand off to Emmitt Smith it would be a 5-yard gain and you'd pull your hair out. Throw it up to Michael Irvin, and Troy [Aikman] was such a great player. The defense -- Ken Norton and 'Prime Time' [Deion Sanders]. So the history of great players, the tradition."
Brady, 42, has faced the Cowboys only four times in his 20-year career. He is 4-0 in those games.
He also reflected Wednesday on meeting legendary Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, whom he referred to as "such a cool guy and someone to really look up to." Brady then complimented the current Cowboys team, saying, "It's going to be a huge challenge for us. I love the opportunity to compete against great teams this time of year as Thanksgiving approaches. It means a lot for both teams."
Adding to the challenge for the Brady-led offense is a potential short-handed situation at wide receiver, as starters Mohamed Sanu (ankle) and Phillip Dorsett II (concussion) didn't practice on Wednesday, and Brady's top target, Julian Edelman (shoulder), was limited. That left only rookies N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers at the position.
Brady had expressed frustration with the offense after Sunday's 17-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, but his tone had shifted on Wednesday.
"It's great to be 9-1, but we just have high expectations for what we're doing as an offense, so we're just trying to figure out how we can do things consistently, with dependability, and guys are working hard at it," he said. "Sometimes it comes together early, middle of the season, late in the season. The only thing that matters really is this week and trying to beat a really good football team."
Brady previously said the strength of the Patriots was their defense and special teams units. He is focused on how the offense might be able to complement that, highlighting how the unit created some positive yardage late in Sunday's victory while pinned deep in its own territory, before punting the ball. That made it easier for the defense.
Brady said that he doesn't feel as if there is a greater burden on him this season.
"The quarterback's job is to do whatever you can to help the team win the game and score some points," he said. "So however you end up doing it -- running the ball, throwing it 50 times, throwing to the receivers, throwing to tight ends, backs ... I think, over 20 years, we've done a lot of different things, and we'll try to find some different things this year."