Super Bowl MVP Brady cements his greatness
GLENDALE, Ariz. - It seems silly, the Super Bowl measuring sticks we sometimes place on quarterbacks. Tom Brady came very close to losing in his third straight Super Bowl appearance Sunday night and the argument, by some, would have been that he didn't warrant mention as the greatest, especially in light of "Deflategate."
GLENDALE, Ariz. - It seems silly, the Super Bowl measuring sticks we sometimes place on quarterbacks.
Tom Brady came very close to losing in his third straight Super Bowl appearance Sunday night and the argument, by some, would have been that he didn't warrant mention as the greatest, especially in light of "Deflategate."
The Patriots of Bill Belichick and Brady faced their largest deficit ever in a Super Bowl and the Seahawks, with a 24-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, looked as if they could not be beaten.
But Brady, undaunted, rallied his team, tossing two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Patriots survived a back-and-forth affair and toppled the defending champion Seahawks, 28-24, in Super Bowl XLIX.
It wasn't Brady's best performance, but it may have been his grittiest because it came against an all-time great defense. It will certainly be his most memorable. The first three titles he won came so fast - three in four years as the starter. And then he lost two - in 2007 and 2011 - and the clock began ticking on the 37-year-old.
But Brady is now the most successful quarterback in the modern era of football. He matched Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw with his fourth Super Bowl championship and added to his previous record with a sixth start.
"I never put myself in those discussions," Brady said. "That's not how I think."
When cornerback Malcolm Butler stepped in front of Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockett and intercepted Russell Wilson at the 1-yard line with 20 seconds left in the game, Brady bounced up and down on the sideline as if he were a schoolboy.
He said for the entire week preceding the game that a victory Sunday would be the sweetest because he may have taken his first titles for granted. Brady won two MVPs in those games, but he was more of a game manager in those days, when the Patriots were led by a stifling defense.
Brady earned his third Super Bowl MVP award Sunday night, matching Montana. The Patriots were victorious because he carried them as he has done for most of the last decade. Brady completed 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns. His 13 career touchdown passes are a Super Bowl record.
He tossed two interceptions, though, one of which the Seahawks turned into seven points. But those turnovers will be forgotten. The only negative for Brady that could still come from the Super Bowl win is the findings of the NFL's investigation into whether the Patriots had footballs deflated in the AFC championship game last month.
Brady's nearly squeaky-clean reputation took a hit.
But on the field he was brilliant when it counted most. After a third quarter in which he completed only 5 of 8 passes for 44 yards and tossed an interception to linebacker Bobby Wagner, Brady delivered a fourth quarter for the ages.
He completed 12 of 14 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns on two long, efficient drives. He connected with receiver Danny Amendola for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 7 minutes, 55 seconds remaining and with Julian Edelman on a 3-yard TD pass with just over two minutes left that gave the Patriots a 28-24 lead.
Whether Brady had any role in "Deflategate" or not, footballs that were likely tested as many times as a rocket at pre-launch didn't appear to affect the quarterback in the first half. He completed 20 of 27 passes for 177 yards and tossed two perfectly-placed touchdowns.
The two weeks of controversy didn't seem to affect his early performance, aside from perhaps an ill-fated pass that was intercepted on the Patriots' first drive.
"It's just a lot of mental toughness," Brady said. "Coach always says, 'Ignore the noise and control what you can control.' "
Brady's interview with Bob Costas was aired on NBC before the game, and he mostly dodged questions about his speculated role in the deflated footballs.
Costas wondered how a quarterback who could feel the difference between balls that were inflated to 12.5 pounds per square inch vs. 13.5 - the minimum and maximum allowed by the league - couldn't tell that the balls from the first half were deflated.
"The last thing I was thinking about was how the ball was inflated," Brady said.
Asked directly if he had no prior knowledge of the footballs being purposely deflated, Brady, who had initially laughed off a report about the investigation and then denied any wrongdoing, took the stance he and Belichick had taken the entire week leading up the Super Bowl.
"I've talked about that in the past and I don't want that to continue to be a story about this particular game," said Brady, who met with Costas on Saturday. "All the facts will come out after this Super Bowl. However those facts come out, that will be news to me, too."
When he finally reached the locker room after postgame interviews, Brady sat down in front of his stall. There was a sign taped to one side that read, "Go Patriots!!! Love You Daddy!!" with four handprints, presumably from his three children.
A picture of his family, including his wife, Gisele Bundchen, at the beach was propped up next to miniature bronzed elephant that looked like a Buddha.
It would have been difficult to feel sorry for Brady had he lost.
The guy seemingly has it all. Athletic skill. Good looks. A supermodel wife. He's a prepackaged combination of east coast grit and Midwestern charm, except that he grew up on the west coast.
But if you appreciate greatness or persistence, his losing a third time wouldn't have mattered.
There is no inflating Brady's legacy. He says he isn't finished, though. He's going for No. 5.
"I've got a lot of football left," Brady said.