Now that we've not only seen the game, but also had a few days to digest it, that talk seems almost as foolish as the idea that Eli Manning is now somehow better than his brother Peyton.
Here's the bottom line, whether you want to admit it or not: Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback ever to grace the NFL with his presence. At the very worst, you can say that he and Joe Montana are 1 and 1a, but anything less than that is unfair, delusional and flat out wrong.
A lot of people have been throwing around Brady's recent TD-INT ratio and the Patriots W-L record in their recent Super Bowl "drought" and using that as a reason to attempt to discredit Brady.
The supposedly damning numbers: After winning the first 10 playoff games in the Tom Brady era, the Patriots have now gone 7-6, and Brady has thrown 27 TD and 17 INT. Those are the numbers that people use to attempt to paint Brady as "overrated."
Let's take a step back and look at this a little more intelligently. How many other active quarterbacks have a winning record in the postseason and a TD-INT ratio of 1.59 over the past 7 years, like Brady has done?
From 2005 to the present:
Drew Brees: 5 wins, 3 losses, 20 TD, 3 INT
Matt Hasselbeck: 5 wins, 4 losses, 16 TD, 7 INT
Eli Manning: 8 wins, 3 losses, 17 TD, 8 INT
Aaron Rodgers: 4 wins, 2 losses, 15 TD, 4 INT
Mark Sanchez: 4 wins, 2 losses, 9 TD, 4 INT
Those are the only quarterbacks in the entire NFL between 2005 and the present with numbers better than the ones for which people criticize Tom Brady. And that's after we've completely ignored the best part of Brady's playoff résumé. Add those 10 wins, 11 TD and 3 INT, and most of those other guys' numbers pale in comparison. Eli's W-L record is still outstanding, and Rodgers and Brees' TD-INT ratios are unreal, but Brady still has the overall edge over any of them, by a long shot.
In fact, Brady has the edge over anyone who has ever played the game in the Super Bowl era. Yes, even Montana.
For the record, I'm not trying to discredit Montana at all. If you tell me he's the best of all time, I'm not even going to argue. I'm merely going to remind you that you can't talk about his greatness without at least acknowledging that Brady is right there with him.
People love to quote the statistic that Montana never threw an interception in the Super Bowl. While that's outstanding in its own right, it's also worth mentioning that there was also a 3-year stretch in which he didn't throw a single touchdown, threw 4 INT, and had a combined QB rating of 50.5 in what resulted in 3 straight 49ers losses.
Yes, Montana was great, but he wasn't perfect. Nearly two decades after his career is over, do any of us remember those three games, and mention how they tarnish his legacy? Of course not. That would be ignorant. So why are people doing it to Brady?
SI's Michael Rosenberg has a lot more realistic take in his recent column, where he points out that Brady's legacy isn't tarnished at all by this loss. In fact, he ADDED to his legacy with his performance.
Yes, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl. Yes, Brady had some less than stellar moments. His lone interception was pretty badly underthrown, the safety was unacceptable and he threw a couple throws behind his receivers. But when you show me a QB who never makes a single mistake, I'll gladly concede the "greatest QB ever" title to him.
Tom Brady did enough to win. His incompletion to Wes Welker has been discussed ad nauseam, and you can blame whomever you'd like. Brady didn't make a perfect throw, but there's no denying that it was a catchable pass. As you can see in the picture to the right, it hit Welker right in both hands. It wouldn't have been an easy catch, but it's a catch that Wes Welker normally makes.
Not to continue picking on Montana, but the only thing separating Montana and Brady isn't what each QB did, it's what their teammates did around them.
The biggest difference between Montana and Brady is that Ronnie Lott never would have let David Tyree make the catch off his helmet in Super Bowl XLVI, and Jerry Rice never would have dropped that pass.
Brady took a downright terrible team to the Super Bowl. The defense was one of the worst I've ever seen in New England, the running game was almost a non-factor, and they had no legitimate deep threat receiver.
The craziest part is that Brady could still end up winning another Super Bowl. With two picks in each of the first two rounds of the 2012 Draft, the Patriots are in a position to reload for the future. At age 35, Brady still has another 3-5 solid years left. No matter what anyone tries to tell you, he's aging like a fine wine, and is still one of the best in the league.
Does he need another ring to justify my belief that he's the all-time best? Nope. Not at all. He could retire now, and he has already done enough to make his case. But this isn't the end.
A few additional Patriots/Giants notes:
Remember the incompletion to Welker that we discussed earlier? So does Pawngo, a Denver-based online pawn shop. Apparently still bitter about the Patriots' absolute dismantling of the Broncos earlier in the playoffs, they dropped off thousands of Butterfinger bars in the middle of Boston, with a sign thanking Welker. A**holes.
A couple people have taken issue with Patriots players Matt Light and Rob Gronkowski partying it up and dancing a few hours after the Patriots Super Bowl loss. I feel sorry for the miderable, petty people who even care about that. If anyone thinks that it's a sign that Gronk and Light didn't care, then I'm not going to waste my time explaining how absurdly ignorant that is. Once the clock hits zero, there's nothing you can do. The Patriots lost. One of the most important things an athlete needs is a short memory. You can't dwell on losses, and trust me... the Patriots will see enough of the game tape from this one to last them several lifetimes. Let them get drunk and find a distraction. If you have a problem with that, then you need to reevaluate your life.
After Gisele's rant towards Giants fans on her way out of the stadium, Giants RB Brandon Jacobs said "she just needs to continue to stay cute and shut up." Apparently, in Brandon Jacobs' world, women should be seen and not heard. Good to know, Mr. Jacobs. The thing is... Gisele had a point.
Giants DE Justin Tuck gave each of his teammates a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue. Those run for over $200 per bottle, and it usually costs $40-50 if you're ordering it in a drink at a bar. Fellow DE Dave Tollefson must not have known that. "Johnnie Walker is kind of a working man’s drink. Johnnie Walker and some Coke. It just speaks to the attitude of our team, and the type of guy he is." A working man's drink? A CEO's drink, perhaps. And you're going to mix your $200+ bottle of Blue with a $2 bottle of Coke? Quick, someone teach this man how to drink.
The folks over at the Aruba Tourism Authority feel bad for the Patriots, and are offering the entire team an all-expenses paid trip to the island. The rich get richer.
At UMass-Amherst, also known as ZooMass, they were going to riot whether the Patriots won or lost. But at least this kid took it like a champ when he got sucker punched in the back of the head. Video via Shutdown Corner.
And now let's never talk about this Super Bowl again, thank you very much.