With hope slipping away and the light of victory fast fading on one of the biggest stages in sports, it was a moment meant for Tom Brady. It was a moment meant for the greatest quarterback to ever play.
Facing a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter against one of the best defences of this generation, there was no sense of panic or doubt from Brady, only supreme confidence.
Throwing right at the ‘Legion of Boom’, he marched the offence down the field to bring his team within three points and then, with everything on the line, delivered perhaps the definitive drive of his career to take the lead in the final minutes.
Clutch might not be the right word to describe what Brady did. Orchestrating a final drive to set up a walk-off, title-winning field goal in two Super Bowls is clutch. Pulling your team from the brink of their demise and not accepting that you’re a 37-year-old quarterback whose glory days are forever behind you? That’s another level. That’s transcendent.
How fitting that Brady joins boyhood idol Joe Montana, as well as Terry Bradshaw, as the only quarterbacks to ever win four Super Bowls. Even with three rings, Brady was in the conversation for the label of best quarterback ever, but it felt like he couldn’t truly grab the crown unless he won his fourth, at least not in the eye of football observers who have come to define players by championships.
Consider the margin between winning and losing a Super Bowl. It could be the difference between an unknown receiver making a jaw-dropping catch pinned against his helmet or an incomplete pass. It could be the difference between a coach making the right play call or the wrong play call.
It wasn’t enough for some that Brady had won three titles and could very well have had five if certain things went his way. Four was the magic number. Well, the long-running debates can now be put to rest.
I wasn’t old enough to watch Montana or Bradshaw play, but their greatness is well-known. For Montana especially, people point to his pristine 4-0 record in Super Bowls with a perfect 11-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He was simply flawless when it mattered most.
Brady’s career started similarly when he went three-for-three on the biggest stage, but then mortality set in. He lost his next two Super Bowls and suddenly, the player who once had the Midas touch could only produce silver.
What defence by the Patriots. https://t.co/TyvCCjhEs2
— Sport360° (@Sport_360) February 2, 2015
No, Brady hasn’t been perfect when the stakes have been at their highest like Montana was. There is, however, something to be said for being the only quarterback to reach six Super Bowls. You can’t win the big game if you’re not in it.
Those two losses to the New York Giants and all the heartbreak Brady has suffered has only served to make his latest triumph cathartic. Much like the San Antonio Spurs coming up short to the Miami Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals only made their victory the next year even sweeter, Brady winning titles 10 years apart is the epitome of coming full-circle.
Before Brady won his fourth, there was a reason why whenever he was asked which Super Bowl victory was his favourite, his answer would always be “the next one”.
The next one is here and the legend grows. Tom Brady stands alone and he’s still far from finished.
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