2012 AFC Championship: Tom Brady Has Been There, Done That for Patriots

Derek CrouseContributor IIIJanuary 17, 2012

The Patriots have the blueprint, will it work Sunday?
The Patriots have the blueprint, will it work Sunday?Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Now that Drew Brees, Aaron Rogers, and Tim Tebow are just dust in the wind in the 2012 NFL playoffs, we can now watch the best quarterback in the league, Tom Brady. The story of the divisional playoffs was about quarterbacks who made big mistakes when it counted most. We have come to the point of the season that is make or break when it comes to sound, mistake-free football.

The Patriots are the only team left with a true first ballot hall of fame quarterback in Tom Brady.

The New England Patriots are an enigma. At the beginning of the season, you expected Tom Brady to be the anchor of the team. The problem was that the secondary was giving up tons of points to the opposition. Unlike other teams in the league, the Patriots can get away with a lackluster defense. By moving their guys around, they create big matchup problems for defenses, including the Baltimore Ravens. When you have tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, how can a defense cover the receivers with enough talent to keep them honest? In years past, Tom Brady had to make a great batch of chicken salad, but now you have to cover a slew of possible receivers. From Deion Branch, Wes Welker, and Chad Ochocinco, how can a defense keep tabs on all the check downs?

Bill Belichick has dealt with the Ravens defense before in numerous regular season and playoff games. Their defense is very strong up front, but the Patriots will utilize those strengths to their advantage. If the Ravens are not getting turnovers with Ed Reed or creating enough pressure with Terrell Suggs, Holoti Ngata, or Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco will have to keep up with the pinball machine that is the Patriots offense. The Patriots might have been ranked in the bottom tier when it comes to team defense, but in the new era of the NFL, offense wins championships.

This is a sacrilegious statement to make to football fans, but the rules have changed so much that a defense-first team can get a flag or have a misread in crucial situations where the other team can capitalize on it for field goals and touchdowns.

Tom Brady has been under the radar as of late. With all the Tebow mania, Drew Brees breaking records, and Aaron Rodgers having the best receivers to sling it to, Brady has been as consistent, accurate, and as deceptive as the rest of the league leaders. Honestly, Peyton Manning has had more headline space than Brady even though he hasn’t even taken a snap this season.

As the saying goes, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” This is the case with Tom Brady.

You can see that the fire and competitiveness has not left Tom Brady even through all the success. Many athletes lose that hunger once they have reached the pinnacle, but it seems that Brady is hungrier than ever. Put another athlete in Brady’s shoes — Super Bowl rings, married to a supermodel, tons of endorsements, people pulling out the red carpet, experts calling you the best thing since sliced bread — and they might get a little complacent.

You will not see a trace of apathy from the best quarterback in the NFL.

While Tom Brady might not break any records this week, you can count that he will be ready for anything the Baltimore Ravens defense shows him.

He has the experience and reputation, plus the best corps of receiving talent since his 16-0 season!