Super Bowl Loss Signals End of Tom Brady's Era

Justin KeithCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots speaks to the media after losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21-17.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

At the end of Super Bowl XLVI, Tom Brady hung his head and reflected on yet another loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bow.

Although this loss doesn't diminish what Brady has accomplished in his Hall of Fame worthy career, it may signal the end of Brady as we have all come to love—or hate, in some cases.

Brady has his best season in terms of passing yards, amassing a spectacular 5,235 yards. That total would have been good enough for the best single-season passing total in league history if it wasn't for Drew Brees having the best season of his career and shattering Dan Marino's record.

Brady also carried the second-to-last ranked defense in the league to a 13-3 record and top seed in the AFC.

However, there were signs of Brady starting to slow down.

Brady, when he had the opportunity for a down the field shot, was intercepted more often then not. The two biggest examples coming in the AFC Championship game against Baltimore and, of course, in Super Bowl XLVI.

He also showed signs of losing some mobility in the pocket, not that he had much to begin with. Although he lacks speed, Brady has always had the uncanny ability to feel the rush and escape and make a play.

If not for spectacular play from his offensive line this season, Brady could have been on the ground much more.

This also brings up the point about Brady's health. Brady missed the entire 2008 season with a devastating knee injury suffered in the first quarter of his first game of the season. Brady was also injured for the second half of this season, nursing a left-shoulder ailment that clearly was bothering him in the Super Bowl.

The soon-to-be 35-year-old will be entering his 13th season in the NFL this upcoming season, and fans can only expect a couple more years out of Brady as a top talent at the quarterback position.

The devastating loss in the Super Bowl could, and I emphasize could, signal the start of the decline for Brady as an elite and top QB.

We have seen the injury issues and slight decline from Peyton Manning, and Patriots fans should start to prepare for what life will be like after Brady. That day may be years from now because of Brady's passion for the game, but his body might force him out before his heart is ready.

If New England can keep their two stud tight ends, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, together, they might be able to squeeze three or four great seasons out of Brady.

However, in this day and age of the players being strong and more athletic, Brady must avoid the big hits and stay healthy in order for him to continue to put up big numbers in New England.