Maybe this is really it for those flat-voweled, hard-shelled New England Patriots. Maybe. Go ahead and mark it as the end of an era in pro football if you're sure, absolutely sure, that 42-year-old Tom Brady is finished defying normal cellular degeneration and 67-year-old coach Bill Belichick can't muster enough steel and nerve from his guys for one more postseason run. What shall we call their two decades of dominion, if it is indeed complete? An age?
- You don’t win 78 percent of your games over 10 years by studying yesterday’s scores or tomorrow’s predictions or by listening to the skeptics who have been saying you’re past it for a decade.
- “I don’t know what we are or aren’t,” Belichick said. “We’re past last week. We’re past every week.”
- “One play could lead to another good play,” Brady said, “which could lead to another good play, which leads to a good series, which leads to a good quarter, which leads to a good half, which leads to a good game.”
- “A lot of plays come up over the years when I think about playoff football,” he added. “And if you’re on the wrong end of one of them, it’s your season. And if you’re on the right end, you move on. You don’t know which plays those are going to be, and you can’t take anything for granted. So guys are working hard and trying to do the right thing.”
- “There’s nothing in the past that matters,” Brady declared. “Obviously, I think knowing what to expect can be a little bit helpful if you use the experience wisely, but it’s not going to help me complete a pass this weekend. I think what’s going to help me complete a pass is making a right read against a right coverage and throwing to the guy that I feel like gives us the best chance to win.”
- They usually get that chance. Think about all the times they were supposedly done.
- The skeptics who pronounce Brady done do so at their peril. He was brilliant in a division-clinching victory over the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago, completing 79 percent of his passes. For the season he was 373 for 613 for 4,057 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions, numbers some would envy. Since he turned 40, his regular season record is 36-12, and on Saturday he will play in a breathtaking 41st playoff game.
The Washington Post, Tom Brady and the Patriots appear vulnerable. Do you want to bet against them?, Sally Jenkins, Jan. 3, 2020.
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