For what was a pretty boring game, there are so many storylines from Super Bowl 53. You can talk about the defensive game plan by both coaches. The execution by the Patriots’ defense. How exceptional Stephon Gilmore was all game long. How hard the backs, mainly Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead, ran. How well the offensive line blocked two legit STUDS in Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. Julian Edelman’s MVP performance.
But, for me, it’s that when the Patriots needed a championship drive, Tom Brady stepped up and delivered it.
When the Patriots got the ball with just under 10 minutes left and a 3-3 game, they had run nine drives. Only one of them had ended in points. New England would go on to score points on both possessions to put the Rams away, and ended up winning by 10. Brady didn’t attempt a pass on the second drive, but he did on the first, and went 4-for-4 for 67 yards. His two passes to Rob Gronkowski were beautiful, with the one that set the team up at the 2-yard line being maybe the best pass he’s thrown all postseason.
Was he great all game? No. Did the Rams confuse him on his interception? They sure did, dropping Nickell Robey-Coleman out of man coverage into zone as soon as Brady released a pass to an, at the time, wide open Chris Hogan. When he got the ball on their touchdown drive, he had completed only 55% of his passes, and had thrown for under 200 yards. But none of that mattered. Brady did what he’s done more than any other player in the history of his, and possibly any other, sport: he led his team to a late-game score to give it the lead. And this time, the defense had no plans on giving it up.
Here’s the stat that ends any GOAT debate that anyone wants to have: Tom Brady has now led 10 drives in the fourth quarter or overtime of the Super Bowl to tie the game or take the lead. TEN! Second all time on the list is Eli Manning, with three. Joe Montana had two. There is no debate: when the game is on the line, and you need a championship drive, there’s no one better than Tom Brady.
On Tuesday, the Patriots will celebrate with their 6th parade, and it’ll be a great day. But by the end of the week, Bill Belichick will be telling us how it’s difficult because they are behind in their scouting for the draft, and Tom Brady will be preparing to try to dominate the NFL again, and come home with Lombardi number seven. Because, as he has been saying, he’s still here, and he’s not planning on going anywhere anytime soon.
Pat is the host of The Patriot Nation Podcast
Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats