In the past week leading up to the Super Bowl, one of the common debates has been Tom Brady vs. Eli Manning and which quarterback has the advantage.
While Tom Brady clearly has the better resume, many members of the media are going with Eli Manning because of his "confidence," his "weapons," and his ability "to produce in the clutch." While many in the media are saying they think Eli has the edge based on the match-ups in this game, some are going as far as to declare Eli the better overall quarterback. Just look at what Mike Lupica of the NY Daily News recently had to say:
This is no longer about who's an elite quarterback, who's not, we have talked that one to death all season. This is about more than that, something more important: Who the best quarterback is right now. For my money it is Eli Manning. He is the quiet younger brother to Peyton Manning, who all of a sudden has turned himself into a rock star.
Wait a 'sec? So the Eli Manning who lost seven games this year is better than Tom Brady, who threw for the second most yards in NFL history and 39 touchdowns while playing with significantly less explosive receivers (and for now, we're even forgetting Brady's storied past)?
Don't get me wrong, Eli Manning is playing at an extremely high level at the moment. He can move around in the pocket, isn't afraid to take any hit, and can deliver any throw. But Eli doesn't have the accuracy or the focused demeanor of Tom Brady. He doesn't have the ability to dissect a defense the way Brady does, and he throws up a lot of risky throws.
A Breakdown of Tom Brady's "Clutch" 2011 Moments After the Jump!
And while Eli Manning may be great in the clutch, it's not as if Tom Brady isn't. In fact, during the 2011 regular season, Tom Brady delivered many clutch moments. Lets recap them now:
- Week 3 at Buffalo Bills: Down 31-24 in the fourth, Brady leads the Patriots' offense 71 yards in 15 plays, and has a clutch six yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Wes Welker with just three minutes remaining. Defense blows the lead in final seconds, Brady never gets the ball back.
- Week 6 vs. Dallas Cowboys: Trailing by three with just over two minutes remaining, Brady leads the offense 80 yards in 10 plays, taking the lead on a touchdown throw to Aaron Hernandez that left just seconds on the clock.
- Week 9 vs. New York Giants: Patriots score 17 fourth quarter points in comeback bid, with the team taking the lead with less than two minutes to play on a 4th and 8 Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski strike over the middle for a touchdown. Defense then blows another late lead.
- Week 16 vs. Miami Dolphins: With the Patriots down 17-0 at halftime, Brady helps lead a heroic comeback, with the Patriots erasing the deficit and hanging on to win 27-24 with a late Brady-to-Welker third down conversion.
- Week 17 vs. Buffalo Bills: The Patriots quickly fall to a 21-0 deficit in the first quarter, then are led back by Brady, who threw for three touchdowns as the Patriots went on to win 49-21.
Eli Manning has really earned my respect for his tough, gritty play in the clutch during the 2011 season. But that doesn't mean he is the better quarterback - Tom Brady has proven to be clutch as well.
There's a good chance that Super Bowl XLVI could come down to whichever team has the ball last. If that's the case, I would trust Tom Brady just as much as I would trust Eli Manning with the game on the line.