It's a double edged sword if their ever was one. The New England Patriots success lies squarely on the shoulders of Tom Brady, as does the complete playoff collapse the team has experienced over the last half decade.
The Patriots make no claim to be a well-balanced team, and they have no intention of becoming one anytime soon. There isn't a defense in the league that rightfully fears its committee of running backs, who ranked 20th in the league in yards gained this season and allowed Brady to rank second on the team with three rushing touchdowns.
Opposing coordinators have salivated all season long at their chance to play New England's porous pass defense, a unit which ranked dead last in yards allowed, fifth worst on third-down plays and sixth worst in penalties committed.
Some will point to improved rankings in the red zone in order to paint a rosier picture, but the Patriots defense still ranked 15th in points allowed, the second-worst ranking since the beginning of the Belichick era.
Bottom line? New England's 13-3 record is a direct result of it's quarterback's superior performance in the passing game nearly all season long. The same could be said of the 14-2 record the team compiled in 2010 and so on and so forth.
Yet since defeating the San Diego Chargers 21-12 in the 2007 AFC Championship Game, the Patriots have yet to earn another playoff victory, going 0-3. Despite deserving the majority of credit for the franchise's perennial contention for hardware, it's Brady who deserves a lot of the flack for the recent losing streak.
In those three games Brady committed seven turnovers via four interceptions and three fumbles. He was taken down a total of 13 times for a total loss of 99 yards. His average completion was for 5.2 yards and his quarterback rating sat at a paltry 74.0.
For anyone even remotely familiar with Brady's normal statistical output, these numbers come as a shock as they stand in stark contrast to what has come to be expected. If the Patriots can't overcome the Denver Broncos tonight it very well might be time to reassess those playoff expectations, and it will definitely be time for the team to begin some whole-sale changes in their philosophy.
Brady's shoulders will have a lot more than his pad weight resting on them at 8 pm. This team needs a nearly flawless showing from a quarterback who has largely failed to produce over the last few years when it was needed most.
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