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New England Patriots Links 2/08/12 - Patriots Already Looking To 2012

Bill Belichick is asked about how proud he is of his team.

Real proud of them. I thought they worked hard all year, they competed well all season. We won a lot of games and even the ones we didn't win, we fought right to the end and played very competitively. We did that last night, just came up a little bit short. I have all the respect in the world for the team and all the players and what they've done for over six months. It's not about one game or one play or anything, it's the whole body of work. I really, really enjoyed coaching this team and have a lot of respect for them.

Michael Rosenberg (SI) Brady's performance in Super Bowl adds a lot to his legacy. Really.

But overall, these facts should not be in dispute: Brady took an otherwise nondescript Patriots team to the brink of a championship, and he played well Sunday. At the end of the first half, he completed 10 of 10 passes and drove the Pats 98 yards for a touchdown. He broke the Super Bowl record for consecutive completions. ...

Did Eli Manning outplay Brady Sunday? Well, Manning was great, and his numbers (30 of 40 completions, 296 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, no intentional grounding penalties that led to a safety) were better. But Manning also had an easier task than Brady in almost every way. ...

True, Brady only led his team to 17 points. But New England had the worst field position I can ever remember for a Super Bowl team. The Pats started on their own 6, their 29, their 20, their 2, their 21, their 17, their 20, their 8 and their 20. The Patriots played the entire game uphill. ...

Did Brady complete a bunch of passes downfield? No, he did not. But have you seen his roster? His leading receiver is 5-foot-9 Welker, a possession receiver. His second-leading receiver is a tight end. His third-leading receiver is another tight end. His fourth-leading receiver is another 5-9 guy, Branch, who is 32 years old.

Good players, all of them. But who in that group seems like a deep threat to you? Bill Belichick answered this question last summer: Nobody. That is why he acquired Chad Ochocinco -- he was supposed to be that deep threat. Unfortunately Ochocinco is neither deep nor a threat.

I'm not saying Brady was better than Manning or that this was the greatest performance of his life. But he played very well in a Super Bowl, for a team that, top to bottom, is not as talented as the Giants. Yes, I know the Pats won 13 regular-season games and the Giants won nine. But that was largely a function of schedule (New England didn't beat a team with a winning record until the playoffs) and the greatness of Brady and Belichick.