I was never a fan of Drew Bledsoe. As a child my TV only had reception for CBS and the AFC was on NBC. I remember telling my first grade teacher that I was rooting for Bears in the Super Bowl against the Patriots because I liked Ditka, "The Fridge," and the Super Bowl Shuffle. I watched alot of Giants games, and became a big fan of Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, and Bill Parcells. I loved ball control offense and good defense.
By the time Parcells came to New England to coach, my family had gotten a satelite dish but I didn't like the Patriots. I liked ball control teams that played good defense like those old New York Giant teams did, not the Patriots and Bledsoe who always seemed to be trying to win the game himself and who always seemed to be getting sacked. I liked the San Diego Charger team coached by Bobbie Ross with "Natrone Means Business" at running back and Junior "The Tasmanian Devil" Seau at linebacker. Bledsoe was not for me. In the 1996 Super Bowl I was rooting for the Packers.
After college, 2001, I moved to Chicago and drank in a Bears bar. Bears had a great year. The Bears won a bunch of games on good defense, improbable turnovers and special teams scores. But a little homesick for New England, and now spending every Sunday in a bar with the Sunday Ticket, I also became a Patriots fan for the first time in my life. The Patriots were coached by the defensive coordinator for those old Giant teams I loved, and in the second game of that season, Drew Bledsoe got hurt, which was okay by me. Brady did not try to win every game himself but rather just made short, conservative passes, took care of the ball and let his teammates make plays in the clutch. And I suppose the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, allowing me to brag to everybody in Chicago that would listen (including Ditka himself!) didn't hurt my loyalty either.
2003 was great. In the playoffs the Patriots beat the Eddie George and Steve McNair Titans by a field goal and some clutch defense. Patriots then beat the statistically spectacular Colts in a game where Brady was solid and Payton threw 4 interceptions. Then Pats beat Carolina with Brady taking what the defense gave him and allowing Vinateri to make a clutch field goal.
2004 the Patriots beat up Manning and the Colts again. Manning threw for more yards than Brady but the Patriots recovered two fumbles and intercepted one Manning pass. Brady and the Patriots had no turnovers and won the game. The next game against the Steelers Big Ben threw for more yard than Brady but he also threw three interceptions where Brady threw none. In the Super Bowl Brady threw no interceptions while Philadephia turned the ball over three or four times. Patriots won. Brady had nine wins to zero losses in the playoffs. Because Brady was clutch, he didn't win games himself, and he didn't turn the ball over.
In 2005 my heros fell apart. Kevin Faulf fumbled. Troy Brown muffed a punt. Tom Brady threw two interceptions. Turnovers killed the Patriots. Tom Brady's unbeaten playoff record was tarnished. The Patriots were beat by the Broncos, who were beat by the Steelers in the following week, who went on to win the Super Bowl.
In 2006 I felt like maybe the Brady playoff ability to win games in high pressure situations was back. Pats beat the Jets and then the very talented and very easy to hate Shaun Merriman, LaDanlian Tomlinson Chargers. Against the Colts, in the first half, Manning was Manning, throwing a pick six to Asante Samuel, and Brady was Brady, giving up no turnovers. But in the second half the Colts stopped turning the ball over and did not stop scoring. With the Patriots with the ball and a three point lead with just a few minutes left to play, Brady couldn't find anyone on offense to make a play and get a first down. Peyton Manning did not try to win the game himself but rather Joseph Addai ran straight at Eric Alexander and into the end zone for the games final points. In the desperate, closing seconds Brady had threw a forced pass that was interception.
That was the worst I have ever felt after a New England loss. In the clutch, no Patriots had made a play. Brady's playoff ability to win games in high pressure situations was gone. Now I feel like Brady has had some statistically significant seasons. In the payoffs I thought Brady looked like Drew Bledsoe or 2003 2004 Peyton Manning on that interception in the end zone when he was targeting Matthew Slater against the Ravens, or on that interception in the Super Bowl where he was targetting Rob Gronkowski. What do other people think?