Tom Brady: still the best
In the two games since returning home to Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots are 2-0 with wins over the division rival New York Jets as well as the Dallas Cowboys.
The 30-21 victory over the Jets two weeks ago didn’t really feel close. The Patriots’ defense was much improved from the first four weeks of the season. The Jets only mustered 255 yards of total offense, about 200 less than the season average allowed by the defense. Mark Sanchez threw for just 166 yards, but still threw two touchdowns, and the Jets’ running backs were held under 100 yards.
Tom Brady was far from a superhero despite throwing for over 300 yards. He tallied just one TD and threw a pick. The hero of the game was BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who carried the ball 27 times for a career-high 136 yards and two TDs, dominating the Jets’ D in the final drive of the game when “The Law Firm” carried the ball (and the Patriots offense) down the field, taking 6:12 of the final 7:14 off the clock and effectively icing the game. The Patriots offense was the most balanced of the season to date, running 37 pass plays and 35 run plays.
This past Sunday, the offense was stressful to watch. The Pats had an uncharacteristically poor day holding on to the football: Brady threw two interceptions, and Matthew Slater and Aaron Hernandez both lost fumbles. The offense seemed to cough it up every time they started to get momentum. Unlike the Jets game, this one was very, very close. Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Bob Ryan, the last man to hold the Patriots offense under 30 points, did it again. With two minutes left in the game, the Cowboys held a 16-13 lead, and Tony Romo had soundly outdueled Tom Brady.
There is something about the last two minutes of a football game; it’s the most pressure packed part of the game, and those who perform during this time become legends. Tom Brady was just a young QB from California who had fought for his starting position all through college at Michigan when he took the field in Super Bowl XXXVI with 1:30 left in the game and no timeouts, tied 17-17. What he did next will live in the annals of football history, taking the Patriots down the field before Adam Vinatieri kicked the winning field goal. The recent game against the Cowboys was only a regular season game against a non-conference opponent, but Tom Brady once again played like Tom Brady. He was 8 for 9 for 78 yards and a TD on the drive that ended the tightest victory of the young season. Over the past few years, many have doubted whether or not Brady still had the magic, whether he could still do it; at times I wondered as well. Well, we’ve got our answer, he definitely still has ice running through his veins.
After a successful two-game home swing, the Pats have the week off before traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. The latest incarnation of the Steel Curtain has a record of 4-2 and will be looking for revenge after last season’s 39-26 beat-down at the Big Ketchup Bottle. New England will have to be on its game to leave Steel Town with another win.