I have three words to describe the recent play of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady:
Most Valuable Player.
Of course, he has no chance of copping the honor as NFL’s best player. That is strictly a stats award.
And with Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning en route to career-bests and all-time records in touchdowns (55) and passing yards (5,500), Brady has no chance.
But isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be or, at least, used to be.
Manning got the stats and awards, and Brady got the playoff wins and Lombardi Trophies.
But over the last four weeks, Brady has been second to nobody in stats, with 360 yards and 3 TDs per game, not to mention a 70 percent completion percentage. Not even Manning could touch those.
The point is that Brady is back and as good as he’s ever been. And while those stats remind of us of the Second Coming of Tom Brady (see 2007), the fact that we’ve seen many instances of the First Coming of Tom Brady so often this season makes me wonder if this is the Brady has ever played.
The Brady that won three championships in four seasons was not anything like the guy in 2007. Those teams were more balanced, game-plan driven and had defenses that could and did win games.
The Patriots, while playing Plan B and Play C guys all over the defense, have shown moxie in all phases of the game, thus taking pressure off Brady.
Lest we forget a few “other” weekly heros, including from Sunday’s “trap game” win over the Houston Texans.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s two 53-yard field goals, both in the clutch, was the best kicking performance since a guy named Adam Vinatieri was winning Super Bowls. Really, it was that good.
Cornerback Aqib Talib is one of the best in the league. Rob Ninkovich looks a lot like the No. 50 from Brady’s first run, Mike Vrabel, usually around good things that happen on defense. And then there is defensive end Chandler Jones, who, outside of Brady, might be the key to a Super Bowl berth and title with his ability to disrupt plays and get to the quarterback.
It’s been a fascinating season around here. The Patriots are having to play well every week and, for the most part, they have.
The key always will be Brady. And the guy we’ve come to see lightly, outside of the stats, the guy standing and moving in the pocket as if he is non-chalantly tossing the ball in his back yard, is back.
When you combine that with the guy who can win a game by himself, sometimes, the Patriots, with all of their warts (on defense), have as good of a chance of any team the last decade to win a championship.
You can email Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.