We have seen this game film before … it’s an endless loop … and you know it will turn out. Tom Brady, the sequel. How many are there now?
Well, there were four versions of “Scream,” the horror film.
Scream. The title fits here. There’s the screaming from opponents that have gone down in a sequence of seasons ruined by Brady and the New England Patriots.
There are the resentful screams from the patriot-hating parts of the nation — which covers everywhere except New England. The howling wolves who who want to tear the No. 12 from Brady’s back will never be silenced … no matter how many times Brady vanquishes their favorite team. There are the screams about one-sided officiating and league conspiracies. And screaming about Bill Belichick’s black heart and heinous cheating.
Brady added another thrilling episode on Sunday, pulling the Patriots from the ledge and a deadly fall in the AFC Championship Game just as it seemed like Jacksonville was moving in for the final shove.
The final score was New England 24, Jacksonville 20.
Past became prologue … again.
By rescuing his team for his 11th postseason fourth-quarter comeback, and in making Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles cry, Brady earned his 27th career postseason victory — adding another win to the record he already holds. And the games including five Super Bowls and eight AFC Championships.
Up 20-10 late, the Jaguars had Brady circled, and were about to heave him over the side in what would be rare postseason home loss at Gillette Stadium. This, of course, is when we often see Brady at his most dangerous level. And sure enough, in a fourth quarter that restored order — you didn’t really believe Bortles would beat TB12, right? — Brady passed for 138 yards, flipped two touchdowns to Danny Amendola, and set off the ringing of church bells in New England.
This is why the man has a .750 postseason winning percentage in his 36 games.
“You can’t give the Patriots any air,” Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack told reporters. “And if you give Brady an opening, starts moving faster. He starts feeling it. And the pressure turns.
“Brady’s gonna Brady. We got Brady’d.”
“The greatest quarterback of all time,” Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey said.
That’s always a good way to explain it — using only six words.
The Jaguars coaching staff helped Brady by shutting down their offense. Bortles was carving up New England with an exceptional flurry of first-down passes; in building an early 14-3 lead for his team Bortles completed 8 of 18 for 102 yards and a touchdown. With New England’s defense expecting to confront the Jags’ power running game on first down, the play-calling sleight of hand put Jacksonville in a commanding position to win.
But head coach Doug Marrone and his offensive staff wouldn’t play to win. They wouldn’t go all-in. They played it safe. They puckered. They feared the Patriots. The Jacksonville staff feared mistakes. They feared blowing the game by staying aggressive with the first-down throws, so they blew the game by going ultra conservative and revealing their anxiety.
After taking that 14-3 lead, Bortles attempted only five first-down passes in the nearly three remaining quarters . And two of the first-down throws occurred on the Jags’ final possession, when they were racing to catch up after losing the lead.
Thirteen runs called on Jacksonville’s final 18 first-down plays.
Thirteen runs that produced 29 yards.
And so when the coaches got scared, the players got scared, and the Jaguars lost their nerve … and in doing so they lost what would have been the first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
You can’t be timid and expect to beat Tom Brady. Not in his house.
This is another example of how Brady influences games.
Just seeing him over there makes some opponents, and their coaches, gulp.
Once Brady gets inside of their heads, the rest of it is often just a mere formality. Meek opponents who take a knee (as Jax did) to run out the clock with nearly a minute left in the first half — can’t screw up, let’s be careful! — already have lost the game. They just don’t know it until Brady flips the scoreboard in the Patriots’ favor, and by then it’s too late.
Don’t EVER give Brady a chance to rally and stage a raid to obliterate your 10-point lead.
Held to 152 passing yards through three hazy quarters, Brady studied, solved and ultimately defeated the NFL’s most crazed and disruptive defense. He did it with 12 stitches in his right throwing hand. He led the Patriots to their 15th win of the season (including playoffs) without favorite wide receiver Julian Edelman, who has been out since tearing a knee up last summer. And Brady picked his way through an improbable comeback after losing tight end Rob Gronkowski to a second-quarter discussion.
Brady is 40 years old. Since turning age 36, Brady has a record of 60-16 in regular-season games, is 10-2 in the postseason, has won three straight conference championships, and is trying for his third Super Bowl win in the last four seasons.
Brett Favre and Peyton Manning were a combined 5-3 in postseason games from age 36 on.
If we combine regular-season and postseason victories by an NFL quarterback once they reach 36, here’s the three-man leaderboard:
With Brady as their starting quarterback, the Patriots haven’t lost more than four regular-season games in a season since 2009. They’ve played in the last seven AFC title games. After going through a stretch of losing six of 10 postseason games, including two Super Bowls to the Giants, Brady is 9-1 in his last 10.
Not counting 2008, which was shattered by a season-ending knee injury in the first game — Brady will compete in the Super Bowl for the eighth time in 16 seasons when he goes against Philadelphia a week from Sunday.
And just in case you are counting (which I presume you are not), when Brady opens that game on Feb. 4, and grand total of 5,845 days will have elapsed from the time of his first Super Bowl start to his latest Super Bowl start.
Has there ever been a career like this in modern times? Not just the NFL but in any of the four major pro sports leagues here. Playing NFL tackle football for 18 seasons and still being the king of all quarterbacks?
In Brady’s last four postseason games that went down to the wire — a playoff win over Baltimore in the 2014 season, the Super Bowl win over Seattle to end the 2014 season, the stunning comeback from 25 points down to defeat Atlanta in last season’s Super Bowl, and the win over Jacksonville — this is what Brady did in the fourth quarter (and one OT) of those dramas with everything on the line. And I’ve combined the numbers:
— 65 attempts, 51 completions, 78.4 percent
— 9.1 yards per passing attempt.
— 6 touchdown passes, no interceptions.
— Passer rating: 135.6
Those victories game at age 37 (two), age 39, and now 40.
Brady and the Patriots trailed Baltimore by 14 points in the third quarter and won; erased a 10-point Seattle lead in the fourth to won; wiped away Atlanta’s huge 28-3 advantage to win, and staged a 10-point charge in the final quarter to prevail over Jacksonville.
Philadelphia certainly has a chance to upset New England, but Tom Brady is waiting. I’ve never quite understood the meaning of the term “The Golden Years” … but I know it when I see it. And I see Brady. You want to challenge him in the postseason? Good luck. You get him down by 10 points, and the minutes are ticking away, and the next thing you know … you’re walking into the locker room with a shocking loss. And that’s the real Deflate-gate.
Thanks for reading …