A football food coma
Even the portly collection of angry trolls at Cold, Hard Football Facts.com, who feed on a steady diet of beer, bratwurst and data, find themselves in a food coma after digesting the mountain of football information filling pre-Super Bowl cyberspace.
• two New Year's Day bowl victories
• a pair of Super Bowl MVP performances
• four last-second, game-winning scoring drives
As a junior at Michigan, Brady led the Wolverines to two touchdowns in the final six minutes and a 45-31 Citrus Bowl victory over Arkansas.
In Brady's senior year he led Michigan to a 35-34 win over Alabama. It was the first overtime game in the history of Michigan football or the Orange Bowl.
In 2001, Brady's first year as an NFL starter, he led the only walk-off scoring drive in Super Bowl history.
In Brady's "off" year of 2002, he led the NFL in touchdown passes and his final TD of the season helped spark a dramatic 27-24 overtime victory in a must-win game against Miami. (New England ended in a three-way tie for first place with Miami and the N.Y. Jets, but missed out on the playoffs.)
In 2003, Brady guided the New England offense to 11 points in the final three minutes of a 32-29 win in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Brady has shown no signs of trailing off in the playoffs this year. In fact, he has simply restated what the Cold, Hard Football Facts have said all along: he's the best quarterback in football, and even better in the postseason.
CBS offered up an interesting stat during its broadcast of the AFC title game. It noted that Brady boasts the lowest postseason interception rate of any quarterback in NFL history. We haven't been able to confirm that, but consider this:
• Brady has thrown just three interceptions in eight postseason games.
• Ben Roethlisberger has thrown five in two postseason games.
• Peyton Manning has thrown five in his last two postseason games against New England.
• Joe Montana tossed 11 INTs while leading San Francisco to a 7-1 record in his first eight postseason games. (He did throw 17 TDs, however.)
Montana, of course, is the quarterback to whom Brady draws the most comparisons these days. So we stacked up their performance in their first eight postseason games.
Brady: 167 for 271 (61.6%), 1,711 yards, 9 TD passes, 2 TD runs, 3 INTs, 86.2 rating
Montana: 171 for 273 (62.6%), 2,168 yards, 17 TD passes, 11 INTs, 91.3 rating
Montana, of course, threw the ball further and for more touchdowns. Brady has excelled at caring for the football and leading last-minute drives in a series of tightly contested games.
It's interesting to see that just 5.1 points separate the postseason performances of Montana and Brady after their first eight games. Their career regular season passer ratings mirror their postseason ratings quite well. Montana posted a career passer rating of 92.3, fourth-best all time. It is 4.6 points higher than Brady's 87.5, seventh-best all time.
Brady's performances are even more impressive when you consider that no quarterback in history has been forced to battle extreme conditions in the playoffs the way Brady has.
Here are his individual performances in those foul-weather playoff games, and how they compare to his quarterbacking opponents. Brady has received second billing in almost every game, but outshined his opposing quarterback each time.
New England 16, Oakland 13 (2001-02 divisional playoffs)
Situation: In blizzard-like conditions, Brady made his 15th NFL start and his first in the postseason. Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon was coming off the best season of his 15-year career. He would win NFL MVP honors the following season.
Brady: 32 of 52, 312 yards, 1 TD run, 1 INT, 76.8 rating
Gannon: 17 for 31, 159 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 79.9 rating
New England 17, Tennessee 14 (2003-04 divisional playoffs)
Situation: The Patriots battled the Titans and co-MVP quarterback Steve McNair in the coldest game in the history of either franchise.
Brady: 21 of 41, 201 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 73.3 rating
McNair: 18 for 26, 210 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 90.2 rating
New England 24, Indy 14 (2003-04 AFC title game)
Situation: In a snowy day in Foxboro, the Patriots faced the Colts and co-MVP quarterback Peyton Manning.
Brady: 22 of 37, 237 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 76.1rating
Manning: 23 for 47, 237 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs, 35.5 rating
New England 20, Indy 3 (2004-05 divisional playoffs)
Situation: The Colts came to Foxboro for another game in the snow led by record-setting NFL MVP Manning.
Brady: 18 for 27, 144 yards, 1 TD pass, 1 TD run, 0 INT, 92.2 rating
Manning: 27 for 42, 238 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 69.3 rating
New England 41, Pittsburgh 29 (2004-05 AFC title game)
Situation: In the second coldest game in Pittsburgh history, the Patriots battled the Steelers and rookie-of-the-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Brady: 14 of 21, 207 yards, 2 passing TDs, 130.5 passer rating
Roethlisberger: 14 of 24, 236 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 79.9 rating.
Brady's next opponent is Donovan McNabb. The Philadelphia quarterback can take comfort knowing that it won't be snowing in Jacksonville. But he's facing a quarterback who's known nothing but victory each time he's walked off the field at the end of the season. Even in a football food coma, that tastes pretty sweet.
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