Lost in “Referee-gate” and the incredibly entertaining 31-30 loss at Baltimore was this disturbing fact:
Tom Brady choked.
OK, it wasn’t the obvious choke job, where Brady threw it into Ray Lewis’ meat hooks with a guy wide open to end the game. This choke job was both quiet and relative.
We have become accustomed to calling Brady one the greatest quarterbacks that ever lived, or at worst, in the top three or five. With every handful of games, he blows by another legend in either yards thrown, touchdown passes or, more importantly, wins. On Sunday night, he passed Joe Montana for 12th all-time in yards thrown with 40,866.
But do you remember the days when Brady was 50-0 in the snow, 25-0 in domes, 50-0 in prime time and 2,000-0 when his team needed a fourth quarter drive to win a game?
OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the message. Brady was “Tom Terrific” in all conditions, particularly when it mattered most in the fourth quarter.
In that sense, yes, our Brady choked.
The New England Patriots needed one more first down and the game was over. That was it, just one. And his young defensive teammates, whom had been manhandled for three quarters, could have left Baltimore feeling better about their physical and mental bruises, learning valuable lessons in the win.
But Brady quietly fell apart. The key play was the sack on second-and-9 from the Ravens’ 44. The stat sheet said Brady was sacked, by the blitzing Dannell Ellerbe. But the real deal was this: Brady was all alone with five receivers.
Ellerbe lined up on the right side, with Brady clearly seeing him, yet he didn’t call for an adjustment (i.e. somebody come back here and block the guy who has nobody in front of him!). Instead he was sacked for a seven-yard loss, basically ending hopes for a game-clinching first down, basically putting the game in his not-ready-for-prime-time defense.