Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
After going 3-0 in Super Bowls in just his first four years as a starter, the folks in Canton, Ohio, were already clearing space for Tom Brady's bust—and rightfully so. In the eight years that followed, he amassed a 86-26 record in the regular season, but is now 7-6 in the playoffs and 0-2 in Super Bowls. Both losses were at the hands of the Manning whom many thought to be the lesser of the quarterbacks with that name.
Even in a loss, it's still good to be Tom Brady.
Though they hate to admit it, most guys would love to have the looks and life of Tom Brady. He has a face that looks like it was chiseled from stone and in the image of a Greek god. I could do without the butt-chin, personally, but to each his own. A model wife, the best job in the world and all the money one could ever need—it's a good life.
But that isn't even where I'm going with this.
After taking another Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants, I thought we would actually hear analysts ripping Tom Brady on Monday. That was not the case. Sure, there were a few out there, but the majority were pointing the finger in another direction. This tends to be the case with Tom Brady.
In their opening possession, the New England Patriots were hemmed in at their own 6-yard line, thanks to one of many great punts from Steve Weatherford. It should come as no surprise that Tom would come out slinging it, on first down. What did come as a surprise, is that he threw into the abyss of the secondary—nobody was within 20 yards of the ball.
He was getting pressure from Justin Tuck and had to let it go from the end zone. Unfortunately for Tom, he never cleared the pocket and the play resulted in an intentional grounding call that cost the Patriots a safety.
Fortunately for Tom, his last name is Brady and this play hardly got the criticism it called for.
The Patriots offense struggled for much of the first half, but on the final drive of the first half and the opener of the second, Tom Brady unleashed the perfect storm upon the New York Giants. Brady was 15-15 for 152 yards and two touchdowns in those possessions, giving the Vegas favorites a 17-9 lead. Then the Patriots began to collapse, on both sides of the ball.
The final 11 minutes of the 3rd quarter were marked by two field goals from the Giants and a three-and-out by the Patriots offense. The Big Blue had cut the lead to 17-15, heading into the final quarter, and it was time for Tom Brady take the reigns and ride off into the sunset with his fourth Super Bowl title. The victory would put him in the company of Terry Bradshaw and the great Joe Montana, the latter being the very quarterback his play had drawn comparisons to for so many years.
On a 1st-and-10 from their own 43-yard line, Brady slung the ball down the field for Rob Gronkowski. What could have been a 49-yard play—or even a trademark “stumblin', bumblin'” touchdown by the most prolific tight end in the game—ended up on Chase Island. Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn snatched the ball out of the air in front of Gronkowski, breaking the dagger the Patriots were so eager to twist into the hearts of the G-Men.
Of course, it wasn't an under-thrown ball or a great play by a linebacker, but merely the result of a “hobbled” Gronkowski.
Heck, even Alex Smith wasn't safe with his 13-3 season and clutch play in the Divisional playoff game. After they lost the NFC Conference Championship to the Giants, Colin Cowherd, host of ESPN's The Herd, said the 49ers should get rid of Alex Smith. Thank God, one of their few unbiased analysts, Trent Dilfer, was there to rescue the network's legitimacy.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't feel Tom Brady's performance warranted the same extreme scenario that Cowherd laid out, but for the love of Jebus, he at least deserved a spanking.
Well, there was one more play I think Tom Brady could have been criticized for, so maybe they will get on him for this one. I'll lay out the play and let the guys from ESPN's First Take go from there.
The Patriots got the ball back at their own 8-yard line, still holding onto their 17-15 lead, with 9:24 left in the game. Running nine plays, New England drove the ball to the Giants' 44. Yet again, it looked like the Patriots were about to put the game on ice.
Like a gift from the Heavens, coverage was busted and Wes Welker was all alone. Instead of hitting him over his right shoulder, it was high and over his left shoulder, forcing Welker to jump and readjust in the air. The ball hit his hands, but he just couldn't pull it in. Had he pulled it in, with the way he landed, I would argue that he probably drops the ball anyway.
On Monday's episode of First Take, even the avid Tom Brady supporter Skip Bayless admitted the pass was Tom Brady's fault. Fair enough, Skip.
I do wonder how it would have played out if it was a pass from Tebow to Eric Decker, but as much as Skip loves Brady, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Rob Parker chimed in and mentioned that even Chris Collinsworth said it was a bad pass by Brady. So far, so good, First Take.
By the time it got to Kordell Stewart, it looked like his head was about to explode.
“One thing I've learned, as a receiver, when I had my short span at playing it, is when the ball touches your hands—not just one hand, but two hands—that's supposed to be a catch,” Stewart said.
Where was that argument when the Denver Broncos receivers were dropping balls? Slash continued to go off from there, sweating profusely and bringing himself one step closer to an aneurysm.
Blame for the Welker drop could really go either way. Personally, I think they should share the blame. But, I do have a lot of respect for Welker, after he put the blame on his shoulders. That was a big play, but so was the safety and the interception.
The Patriots got another chance, after Ahmad Bradshaw's butt-flop thing, but sacks and dropped balls stymied the drive and they had to settle for a Hail Mary.
My point is, analysts can be so critical of every play from some quarterbacks and just let the other ones slide. If it's Tom Brady, they talk about the drops.
If it's a quarterback they have formed a bias on, such as Tim Tebow, drops turn into incompletions, which turns into horrible passes.
If Tony Romo threw that interception, we'd probably be hearing more about that than Eli Manning's performance or Mario Manningham's catch.
Don't get me wrong, I love Tom Brady. He's one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game. I'd be crazy not to have the utmost admiration and respect for him. But, at the same time, I feel players should be judged game-by-game and not be given a pass for their prior history.
Not every interception or incompletion is the fault of the quarterback. Sometimes it is. All aspects of the play should be factored into the equation. In the end, Tom is Tom, and he can even dance like this and get away with it.
It's good to be Tom Brady.