Feb. 26, 2017
Tom Brady's Comeback For the Ages
A story will outdo reality.
The New England Patriots and Tom Brady came into NRG Stadium and looked to finish off a season that was supposed to be built on revenge. Revenge for an unjust punishment, revenge for feeling like the team’s name and Brady’s had been slighted. Maybe most important of all, revenge for having doubt cast on what they have done in the last 17 years.
The story could not have started any better. Brady was suspended for the first four games of the regular season and pundits wondered how the team would stay afloat. But by the time Brady returned in week five against the Cleveland Browns the team was 3-1 and playing great no matter who was under center.
Brady did was Brady has done his whole life since he returned in week five, he proved everyone wrong. At an age when most athletes are not supposed to be even playing, he played at the highest level of his career. He threw for 28 touchdowns and only two interceptions, an NFL record.
That was not enough for some, after all Nick Foles threw for 27 touchdowns and two interceptions they said. Brady needed that final Lombardi to silence the critics. To let everyone know that he could win, that the Patriots could win, without anyone doubting how legitimate the victories were.
So it is only fitting that the playoff journey that would end in Houston started against the Houston Texans. Brady led the team to a victory and onto the AFC Championship game, still the the critics were starting to creep back into the foreground.
Brady had a below average game and many were wondering if he had those signature playoff games in him anymore. After all he had “struggled” against the Texans, and the Denver Broncos in the 2015 AFC Championship Game.
Yet Brady silently went about his business. He was not worried about the headlines, he was worried about football. He then dissected the Pittsburgh Steelers and was onto Houston.
This is when the story was supposed to reach its climax with Brady winning and completing his revenge tour. So much was being said about what he would do if he won the game, even before the game was played.
It was almost a certainty that the Patriots would win, that’s how the story had to end. Sometimes though a story needs to have a few bumps in the road.
Through the first half of the Super Bowl, the Falcons looked like the dominate team. The Falcons went into halftime with 21-3 lead. They had battered Brady all half, picking him off once and returning it for a touchdown. The story of how Brady was supposed to win had shifted.
Now people were once again wondering if Brady had lost his magic, that certain je ne sais quoi. You could see the headlines being made, and the stories being written. Brady once again failed in the Super Bowl. After all Montana never did that.
And while we all were wondering how they could ever comeback, Brady and the Patriots remained calm. Even when the game seemed out of hand after the Falcons went up 28-3 no one on the Patriots’ sideline was worried. They knew that Tom Brady would lead them to victory when everyone and even history was saying they had no chance.
Safety Duron Harmon told teammates at halftime that they were coming back. Said he knew team had it in them. pic.twitter.com/lp2qPsugH3— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) February 6, 2017
Through the last quarter and a half Brady was simply Brady. He meticulously picked apart a defense that now had no answers for what the offense was doing. Soon he score was 28-9. Then it was 28-12 and you could feel that this was a game Tom Brady would will his team to win.
The Falcons were floundering and all of the sudden this Patriots team was playing like champions. Then it was 28-20.
Then the drive that won the game for the Patriots happened. The Falcons were deep in the Patriots’ side of the field and Julio Jones had just caught a miracle catch that put a dagger into the heart of Patriots’ fans everywhere. They had seen those catches all too often, the ones that only seem to happen against them in the biggest games.
Brady’s revenge tour was about to be over and the storybook finish had been thwarted. Luckily for the Patriots the Falcons had the worst managed final three plays in Super Bowl history and they had one chance to tie the game. Atlanta had gifted Brady one last drive, and that’s all he needed.
91 yards separated the Patriots from overtime. Brady had 91 yards to silence all his detractors. In those 91 yards Brady had a miracle catch that he had seen so many times. Brady whipped a pass over the middle and it was tipped up in the air. Julian Edelman dove for the ball. A ball that hung in the air for an eternity and seemingly floated forever.
A pass that started off as a sure interception turned into a circus catch and it made the rest of the game a mere formality. It seemed like Brady could not be denied from tying the game, and he was not. Then once the Patriots got the ball in overtime it was only a matter of minutes until he led his team down into the endzone.
That fifth ring probably meant more to Brady than any of the other four. It was his validation that he was the best. It was his validation that people had been wrong about him since day one, and that people were wrong to label him as someone who can only win because they cheat.
As Brady hoisted the Lombardi the world could see the passion in his eyes. He yelled “Let’s Go!” and the weight of a town scorned, a franchise and a player embarrassed fell off his shoulders. A story usually will outdo reality, but this time Brady has proven everyone wrong once again.