The "greatest of all time" conversation that follows quarterback Tom Brady received a shot in the arm after the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl XLIX and he took home his third MVP award on Sunday night.
Brady's stuff is legendary, as a casual demeanor helped to erase a 14-point deficit entering the fourth quarter against the league's most feared secondary.
Overall, Brady was far from perfect on his way to the 37-of-50 mark for 328 yards, four scores and two interceptions.
Twice Brady simply missed defenders. They appeared to just vanish from existence in the middle of his read, the end result being an easy interception for the Seahawks.
Once, he missed what would have probably been the most simplistic touchdown pass of his career at the pro level, as even athletic pass-catcher Julian Edelman could not adjust midair and reel in the high pass.
It is all white noise now, though.
Brady scored the first touchdown of the soon-to-be-legendary contest by finding Brandon LaFell in the second quarter:
That dart began Brady's four-touchdown extension of his own record for most career postseason touchdown passes.
The second later in the same quarter epitomized the Patriots' approach all night long. Brady hit on short passes for most of the night both in an effort to avoid challenging cornerback Richard Sherman and Co. deep as well as minimize the effectiveness of the Seattle pass rush.
At times, though, this opened up things for the offense over the top, such as on this dime to tight end Rob Gronkowski:
Remember that horrific miss to a wide-open Edelman?
Brady overcame that hiccup in the only way he can, finding receiver Danny Amendola in the back of the end zone for a score to put his team back in it late:
He then made things right with Edelman, tossing him the go-ahead touchdown shortly thereafter to conclude a drive in which the MVP did not fire an incompletion.
The scope of the late-game heroics simply cannot afford to be lost in the grand scheme of things. This was the Legion of Boom. This was the defense that made Denver Broncos signal-caller Peyton Manning look like he should be in a walker—not cleats—during last year's big game.
NFL Network's Albert Breer and The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre paint the picture well:
The total tally? A 13-of-15 mark for 124 yards and two scores in the final frame. Those 37 overall completions? Short, easy passes or not, they set an NFL record that once belonged to Manning, per NFL Network's Jeff Darlington:
Legacy chatter and the like probably matter little to Brady. The man's a competitor who wants to win. His focus at the podium after the game, per ESPN's Mike Reiss, says it all:
According to The Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), he later added:
It wasn't the way we drew it up. Certainly, throwing a couple of picks didn't help. It was a lot of mental toughness. Our team has had it all year. We never doubted each other, so that's what it took. That was a great football team we beat. I'm just so happy for our team.
Make no mistake—Brady is far from done.
In a way, that is what can be so scary about his performance on Sunday. Brady wasn't perfect, but his ability to remain level-headed and take care of business overrides the negatives.
The ending is the stuff of legends, even if it is not the end.
In fact, Sunday is likely the pinnacle for arguably the greatest of all time.
Not bad for a former sixth-round pick who grew up idolizing Joe Montana.