By Daniel Trotta
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Moments after a stunning Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, New England Patriots' 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady was not ready to retire, saying he would likely return and try again for his sixth National Football League title.
Brady, the face of the NFL with his five previous Super Bowl victories, suffered his third defeat in the championship game, losing the ball on a strip sack at a crucial time in the Philadelphia Eagles' 41-33 victory.
"I expect to be back," Brady said. "It's 15 minutes after the game ended, so I would like to process this. I don't see why I wouldn't be back."
The strip-sack play with a little over two minutes left and his team down five points overshadowed his Super Bowl record 505 yards passing. He completed 28 of 48 passes with three touchdowns and no turnovers, moving the ball so well that the Patriots never punted.
For all his success, though, two failed plays will stand out in Sunday's loss.
On the strip sack, he dropped back to pass and came under pressure, with Philadelphia linebacker Brandon Graham knocking the ball loose and Philadelphia's Derek Barnett recovering and advancing the ball to the Patriots's 31-yard line.
That led to a Eagles field goal and an eight-point lead that held for the rest of the game.
"Those guys had a good rush and got it there and made a good play," Brady said. "They made a good play at the right time."
In another rare flop, he went out as a receiver on a trick play on third down in the second quarter but could not haul in the pass from receiver Danny Amendola, which was just beyond his reach.
Brady handed off to running back James White, who pitched it to Amendola on what appeared to be a reverse while Brady sneaked out into the flat, wide open. A catch would have resulted in a first down. Instead, it bounced off his outstretched hands.
"Danny made a good throw. I just didn't make the play," Brady said.
Asked if he caught the pass in practice, he said: "Yeah, I caught it. Didn't catch it tonight."
Dominant as the Patriots have been since Brady's first championship after the 2001 season, he said: "No one is going to feel sorry for us."
Nor will they feel sorry for Brady, who is revered in New England and in 2009 married Brazilian-born model Gisele Bundchen, the mother of their two children.
Brady has attributed his longevity in part to a strict diet of largely organic, plant-based foods, avoiding those he says contribute to muscle inflammation, while drinking 12 to 25 glasses of water per day, including 20 ounces (60 cl) fortified with electrolytes first thing in the morning.
He says he goes to sleep at 8:30 p.m.
For now, he will have the off-season to contemplate how the Patriots will return to football's center stage.
"We'll evaluate like we always do," he said. "I'm pretty sure everyone is tired after a long year."
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)