Whoever called themselves “experts” and said the Chicago Bears had the advantage over the New England Patriots at home and playing in inclement weather looked like a fool on Sunday as the former lost in a blowout to the latter, 36-7. The king of quarterbacks in snowy elements, Tom Brady, NEVER loses games in bad weather, going back to the 2001 AFC Divisional “Tuck Rule” Playoff game.
In doing so, Brady pretty much locked up what will be his second NFL MVP trophy by year’s end, impressively throwing for a season-high 369 yards and two touchdowns in crazy, windy and snowy Chicago en route to improving New England’s AFC-best record to 11-2. After similarly crushing the Jets just six days earlier, New England is just unstoppable these days and makes even good opponents and their quarterbacks look like inexperienced college kids.
A good chunk of recent success is due to a young Patriots defense improving with every week, but it is Brady and his offense that has scored most of the 126 points (to 34 for opponents) since Turkey Day in Detroit. It is seriously looking like 2007 all over again for this elite QB, who won his first regular season MVP trophy that season.
His only competition this year for MVP is Philip Rivers, who has thrown INTs in seven of his Chargers’ last eight games, going 5-3 in that span, and who has slipped in offensive production overall the past few weeks, and Michael Vick. Notice, I didn’t include Peyton Manning, who has thrown for a ton of yardage (like Rivers) as usual but who has been a turnover machine for much of this last month and not led his team to many victories, with his Colts currently sitting second in the AFC South division at 7-6 behind Jacksonville. No, that is not a typo.
If you were to tell me in October that Tom Brady, currently with 29 TDs to 4 INTs and 3,398 yards passing, would have the kind of success and MVP season he’s been having in 2010 without Randy Moss and Kevin Faulk for most of it, Logan Mankins for part of the year, Laurence Maroney (who was traded to Denver), and with only one veteran receiver you can count on (Wes Welker) and two rookie tight ends, I’d say you’re out of your mind.
Wes Welker was supposed to have lost a step a year removed from a devastating knee injury, and no one knew exactly what to expect from Deion Branch upon coming over from Seattle to effectively take Moss’s place, not on the long ball but in the veteran receiver department. But both are healthy and playing at the top of their game right now (with the latter having TDs in three straight games through Sunday).
Credit goes to Bill Belichick for getting his team prepared to practice and then play in all kinds of weather, and to de facto offensive coordinator (and QB coach) Bill O’Brien, who doesn’t get talked about much but has clearly helped Brady throw a more horizontal than vertical game since Moss was sent packing. Coaching can only do so much though, and it take the smarts of a Brady to read defenses well and quickly to execute plays.
Sunday, for example, saw Brady read a Bears third down blitz quickly enough to spot an open receiver in Branch for a big first down gain. Both he and Welker ended up with over 100 yards receiving. And that is due to Brady getting the ball to them at the right spot at the right time, something he has and continues to show he can do no matter what the weather is.
Tom Brady ranks number one in the NFL in TDs with 29 and QB rating (109.9), is tied for second in completion percentage (66.8%) for active QBs (Tony Romo is not one of them), and has thrown for over 300 yards four of the last five games, with the Pats going 5-0 in that span and locking up a playoff berth as they did with its win on Sunday.
With three regular season games left, two of them at home where he and New England hardly ever lose, Brady can only add to his MVP credentials. And unless he beats himself, he likely will.
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