Tom Brady. Bill Belichik. What does the common fan think of when those names are uttered (usually mumbled, after one’s team has lost to them again)?
Well, here’s what they should think: greatness and consistency.. Because that is what people have come to expect from the New England Patriots in the Brady-Belichick era. As a die-hard Philadelphia sports fan, it is tough to say that, but they ARE the “Gold Standard”, much like the franchise in Pittsburgh.
Yesterday’s game was a great example. Whose name was thrown around at least one million times before the game? Not Brady’s. It was Tim Tebow. A guy who is now 9-7 in his NFL career as a starter, and whose career completion percentage is 20 points lower than that of Brady. And why was no one talking about the 3-time Super Bowl champion? Because we know what to expect of him. Fans know that he will play well in big games, and that he can make even the best defense look silly on any given day. Tebow, on the other hand, is an inconsistent mystery.
The Patriots’ 45-10 demolition of the Jesus-led Denver Broncos proved three things:
- Tom Brady really is the nephew of God.
- Tim Tebow needs to go back to the drawing board, because he isn’t good enough yet.
- The New England Patriots are now the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
And it isn’t just Brady. Even though he broke several individual records (6 touchdowns, 5 in the first half), his team just fed off of his brilliance. It was an all-around effort in Foxborough.
For the first time this season, the Patriots defense looked sharp, fast, and strong. Rob Ninkovich and Vince Wilfork were forces to be reckoned with on the New England defensive line, and linebackers Brandon Spikes and Jerod Mayo looked as good as ever, combining for 15 tackles, 4 of them for a loss. The defense held Tim Tebow to only a 34.6 completion percentage, which is just atrocious, but what was even more impressive was the fact that they had 17 tackles for a loss as a collective unit. 17! They also forced a Tebow fumble, and held the Denver rushing attack under 4 yards per carry.
On the offensive side of the ball, Brady looked as calm and collected as ever. On every pass play he took his time to make reads, avoided pressure when necessary, and threw a dart to a receiver just waiting for the ball. As if his 363 yards weren’t enough, he added six touchdowns, three of which
went to record-setting tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski’s tight end partner Aaron Hernandez also had a huge day, rushing for 61 yards and catching 4 balls for 55 yards and a score. This offense looked nearly unstoppable, and coupled with a peaking defense, makes them the most dangerous team left in the playoffs.
But this dominance should come as no surprise. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have combined for an astonishing 17-6 postseason record. That’s more playoff wins than Tim Tebow has games under his belt! Granted, injuries may have plagued the Denver offense, but by the time the injury bug had spread, the Patriots already had a comfortable 28-7 lead. There are no excuses for this one. The message Tom Brady and New England sent was clear: we are still the best team in football, and we’d like to see you prove us wrong.
I’d like to see someone accomplish that.