Don't blame Brady for Super Bowl loss
By STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency
|Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walks off the field after losing to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, Ind., Feb. 5, 2012. (GARY HERSHORN/Reuters)
INDIANAPOLIS - All Tom Brady needed was a little more time, a little more help.
He did his job, enough to win his fourth Super Bowl, enough to take home another Most Valuable Player award, enough to elevate himself to where he already is — among the very best to ever play.
The Super Bowl defeat to the New York Giants Sunday does not change or diminish anything about Brady. In fact, if you examine the extenuating circumstances of his season, and put them in any kind of historical context, what Brady managed on Sunday, what he managed all year, what he has managed throughout his career, has been unmatched in football history.
In Super Bowl XVLI, he needed one more stop from his defence, one more catch from Wes Welker, a little bounce in Rob Gronkowski’s rather tight ankle. But he got none of those things: And now, in five Super Bowls, he will be doubted by those who cannot see beyond the obvious, who doubt him now because he won his first three, lost his last two, and the record in the big ones is more sketchy than ever.
He should have tied Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw on Sunday. Tied them with four Super Bowl championships apiece, quarterbacks who make everything happen. But, in truth, he hasn’t had the advantages of either Montana or Bradshaw over time, or even those that have accompanied Eli Manning in his Super Bowl triumphs over Brady.
In that way, Brady is perhaps the most singular quarterbacking star in football history — able to reach for the skies without similar accompanying talent that makes champions legendary.
Bradshaw could hand the ball to Franco Harris, throw to John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, terrific players all of them. And on defence the Steelers had Mean Joe Greene and Jack Lambert and Jack Ham and Mel Blount — all of them rightfully in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
What does Brady have in comparison?
His running backs are run of the mill. He has no wide receiver who can stretch a defence the way Stallworth or Swann could. He would, under healthy conditions, have had the terror of two tight ends, Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but Gronkowski was no factor on Super Bowl Sunday: I believe if Gronkowski played injury free on Sunday, the Patriots would be champions today. And will any player from the rather ordinary New England defence end up in the Pro Football Hall? The answer to that is no.
In Montana’s case, he had Roger Craig or Ricky Watters (three touchdowns in Super Bowl XXIX) in the backfield, the greatest of them all Jerry Rice, at receiver and that opened up John Taylor for a winning catch in another championship game. Aside from all that, he had, at various times, Dwight Clark and Brent Jones as complimentary targets and forever competent defences.
Without any of that, Aaron Hernandez aside, Brady needed one more minute on the clock, or the kind of catch Welker would normally make to end this season in spectacular form.
Coach Bill Belichick, who some refer to as the best ever, managed to get this Patriots team farther than their talent should have taken them, Super Bowl gaffes aside. Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl because he never had the right parts around him. Brady almost managed a victory without the right parts around him: Now it is incumbent upon Belichick to take advantage of Brady’s final years, to up the skill level around him and see what will come from that.
Troy Aikman had Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. Bob Griese had Larry Csonka and Paul Warfield. Where, without Gronkowski, does Tom Brady’s help come from, and honestly, is there another team in Super Bowl history that would put the ball in Danny Woodhead’s hands 11 times when it mattered most?
Craig Patrick used to talk about this when he ran the Pittsburgh Penguins and had Mario Lemieux. He always said he had a window of opportunity to take advantage of Lemieux’s talents. It’s no different for Brady and the Patriots. They need a receiver of consequence who can get down field. They need a secondary that can make a play. They need more support around Brady, who completed 16 consecutive passes in the biggest game of the year.
This Super Bowl defeat is not his. No matter how lousy he happens to be feeling about it.