Did the New York Jets Put a Dent in Tom Brady's Legacy?

Daniel BrommerCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2011

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on near the end of their 28 to 21 loss to the New York Jets in their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Sunday night's game between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots seemed to overshadow every game that took place this past weekend, and there were some great games (aside from the beatdown the Bears gave the Seahawks).

The heated rivalry that has picked up a lot of steam in the past two seasons was a classic showdown that showed why the New York Jets are going to their second consecutive AFC Championship game in as many years as Rex Ryan's already successful two-year tenure as the head coach.

Now this begs the question: what happened to the heavily favored New England Patriots, led by arguably the best coach in the history of the league and arguably the best quarterback ever?

The Jets came in with an overwhelming attack that showed Rex Ryan taking a step back from his blitz heavy packages and converting over to a heavy emphasis on covering all of those routes that the Pats like to run. The result was Tom Brady looking the most confused anyone has ever seen him in his entire career, which some would say is the best game plan ever.

Brady looked overwhelmed, confused and lost. While he passed for 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the numbers don't seem to matter because the only statistic is a win or a loss in the playoffs and this loss seems devastating.

Belichick was outcoached, which doesn't happen often, and his team wasn't prepared the way the Jets appeared to be. Historically speaking, the Patriots' defense could be ranked dead last in the league entering the playoffs, but they always seem to step up in a giant way once the postseason starts.

That wasn't the case. Mark Sanchez made play after play against the Pats defense and the rushing attack of LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene came in key points of the game.

Sanchez was barely touched where Brady was left on the ground on almost every single play. It was almost a mirror image of the Super Bowl loss against the Giants three years ago. This loss is going to sting for a long time considering that the Patriots team wasn't expected to have as much success as they had, while at the same time they had so much momentum going into this contest that it seemed impossible for them to lose.

So does this put a dent in Tom Brady's legacy? Absolutely not. While Brady will never throw a teammate under the bus, in this case it almost feels appropriate. None of Brady's receivers were getting open and the line was confused so much that they weren't able to provide him with enough protection.

That doesn't mean that Brady isn't to blame at all, but the loss shouldn't rest solely on his shoulders as a lot of critics and sports writers are assuming. This is a team sport so no single person should be singled out, but the quarterback is the center piece and that responsibility rests with that position.

Brady is arguably the best quarterback of all time given the fact that he has been the heart and soul of this team and he has been the center piece of their dynasty. He has had plenty of help around him, but every great quarterback has had that too.

Will Brady bounce back? I think so and so do a lot of other people, and as Ryan said before, this loss won't be forgotten and they will be back next year to resume this rivalry that has taken the league by storm.

So where does Brady go from here? Simple; he had the best season statistically of his entire career and quite possibly the best season of all time for a quarterback. Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead, Deion Branch, Benjarvis Green-Ellis, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez provided big plays, but it was Brady that was the director while they were the cast.

Imagine what he could do with the likes of Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes. He would be virtually unstoppable. Brady will bounce back in 2011 and don't be surprised if they finish the job they started this season with another Super Bowl championship at the end of next year.