|Cutter, I hope you don't put out a Code Red on me for writing this...|
(Warning: Patriots fans, do not read! May cause hysteria, rage, homicide, and, worst of all, dog fighting)
I've had a full day to digest what happened last night and I still feel sick to my stomach. Perhaps it's that I'm too competitive, perhaps it's that I don't have my priorities straight, or perhaps it's that I might have a concussion from repeatedly banging my head against a door frame at Casey's house during the game, but I simply can't come to grips with the fact that the arrogant, undeserving Jets somehow pulled the upset of a lifetime last night. I spent all weekend suffering through painfully bad games with the assured knowledge that at least the Patriots wouldn't let me down. Now, I'm not a Patriots fan or anything and I don't have shrines to Tom Brady at my house. I do, however, respect their team and the way they run their organization (also Tom Brady singlehandedly won my fantasy league for me) and, beyond that, THEY AREN'T THE FREAKING JETS!
Now, I could spend all day talking about how much I hate the Jets and how horrible it is that they pulled this upset. Certainly, it was not pleasant to have the thoughts of their premature celebrations and outlandish claims running through my mind last night. Also, I will likely never recover from watching fat Rex Ryan attempt to run (waddle) into the end zone after Shonn Greene sealed the game with his 4th quarter TD run. However, despite how hostile my feelings towards the Jets, that wasn't what stuck with me after the game.
Amidst the chaos of last night, the one thought that resonated through my mind was this; how could Tom Brady let this happen? I don't know why, but I couldn't help but put the whole game on him. I know it's unfair of me to do so, especially given the Branch drop, the botched fake punt, and the defensive breakdowns, but I just couldn't get Brady's performance out of my mind. After the incredible season he had, how could Tom Brady not pull through against the Patriots big mouthed rival?
At this point, you're probably all expecting me to rush to Brady's side and defend him like the good foot soldier I am (props to Wes Welker). To be honest, I looked hard for ways to do exactly that. After all, I'm the same guy who spent the last 5 or so weeks proclaiming the Manning-Brady debate to be over and done with. I suppose I could pull a Cowherd and just ignore the fact that I said anything, but you all know I'm dumb already so I might as well own up. The fact of the matter is, the more I thought about my Brady question, the more I realized that maybe Brady is more legend than reality. Don't get me wrong, Brady is still a Hall of Fame QB and an all-time great, but after looking into this, the stats didn't really add up to the legend. With that in mind, I present to you "A Tale of Two Toms."
By this point, you probably think I'm doing exactly what I constantly preach against; overreacting to a recent event for no reason. Just stick with me for a little bit! Before you go to another website, let me first introduce you to Tom Brady Number One. This Tom Brady has a playoff record of 9-0, including 3 Super Bowl victories. During those 9 wins his stats looked like this.
Completions Attempts Comp% Yards Y/A TD INT
190 304 62.5% 1951 6.42 11 3
This Tom Brady doesn't have eye popping statistics, but he is efficient and doesn't make big mistakes. And, of course, his team never loses...literally. Three Super Bowls in three straight playoff appearances is incredible and only 3 INT in 9 playoff games is a big reason why that happened. Time of possession and turnover margin were two major keys to the Patriots early success and Brady's ability to maintain long scoring drives (allowing his defense to rest and not allowing the opposing offense to get in a rhythm), and avoid the big mistake was the catalyst to their incredible run. Tom Brady Number One may not break any statistical records, but he's rock solid and incredibly clutch.
Now, let's meet Tom Brady Number Two. This Tom Brady has set all kinds of regular season records and has won 2 MVP's (at least it better be two or my head will explode). He consistently leads a highly seeded Patriots team into the playoffs and is almost always favored to win. However, he has a playoff record of only 5-5! And, remember when I mentioned that last night's game was the upset of a lifetime? Yeah, that only includes kids under 3. This particular Tom Brady has the distinction of being on the wrong end of the biggest upset in NFL history as the supposed "Greatest Team Ever," in their bid for an undefeated season, lost to a Giants team they had beaten only weeks earlier (I HATE YOU DAVID TYREE! AND YOUR HELMET!). And how can we forget the massacre that occurred in New England last year at the hands of Ray Lewis (get it? massacre? get it?) and his Ravens? Don't take my word for it, look at these stats!
Completions Attempts Comp% Yards Y/A TD INT
234 378 61.9% 2456 6.49 19 13
Sure, most of the numbers look about the same. And yes, the TD numbers are up! Look at the INT's though! And remember the kind of stats he was putting up in the regular season? That's quite a dropoff! More importantly, look at the record...
What exactly am I trying to prove with this column? Am I trying to tell you Tom Brady sucks as a playoff QB? NO! He still has some of the best playoff numbers of all time and he still has 3 Super Bowls. Am I trying to tell you I've switched over to Manning's side in the ongoing debate? NO! I still side with Brady, though not as haughtily as before. Even still, if we're going to hold Brady accountable for 5-5 then we have to hold Manning accountable for 9-10. And, of course, there's always the matter of 3-1 (you know what I mean Indy fans). Truthfully, I have no idea what I'm trying to prove. I still love Tom Brady, I still think he could end up as the greatest QB ever, and I still think the Patriots are the class of the NFL.
Perhaps I'm just angry about last night and I need a scapegoat. Perhaps I am overreacting just as you are likely accusing me of doing and the Patriots are just going to roll the NFL next year out of spite. Perhaps I'm pointing out something a lot of people don't realize and my Patriot loving friends don't want to hear. Perhaps all of those things are true!
Then again, perhaps banging your head against a wooden door frame for 20 straight minutes is a really bad idea...