We’ve seen this movie so many times, but as people continue to doubt the ability of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the ageless wonder continues to defies logic. At the spry age of 41, Brady is back in a familiar spot as he and the Patriots have once again secured a spot in the Super Bowl. A 37-31 overtime over the Kansas City Chiefs last night in the AFC Championship Game sent New England to the Super Bowl for the ninth time with Brady as their starting quarterback, while they joined the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills as the only three franchises to make three consecutive appearances in the big game. Brady is already in possession of five Super Bowl Titles, but there appears to be something that is a little more sweeter about this foray to the big game.
In Super Bowl 52, the Patriots took the field looking to repeat as the champs, but they ran into an upstart Philadelphia Eagles squad that had other intentions. The Eagles found a way to defeat the Patriots in spite of the fact that Brady set a Super Bowl record by passing for 505 yards, and when New England left the field in Minneapolis last February, there were some that doubted if Brady would ever get back.
But for the tenth consecutive year which is a National Football League record, the Patriots once again won the AFC East. And although that New England’s 11-5 regular season mark was not what we’re accustomed to seeing from them, they still found a way to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs.
In the divisional round the Patriots would host the Los Angeles Chargers who had become the “sexy” pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. The Chargers finished the regular season with a better record than the Patriots, but a lost tiebreaker to the Chiefs which prevented them from winning the AFC West. The Chargers would open the playoffs by securing a 23-17 road win over the Baltimore Ravens which led to many people predicting that they would win versus the Pats.
Brady and the Patriots heard those reports and it fueled their fire as they would dominate the Chargers and cruise to a 41-28 win over Los Angeles. The Patriots would win the opening coin toss and march down the field on a methodical field for a touchdown which set the tone. And by the time that the Chargers blinked, they found themselves in a 35-7 deficit as the half as the Patriots were operating like a well-oiled machine. A few garbage time touchdowns would make the final score closer than what it really was, but the Pats let it be known that their expected demise was far from being factual.
The Patriots would then head to Kansas City for a showdown with the Chiefs as the skeptics wanted to point out that New England was only 3-5 on the road this season, along with the fact that Brady has only won two road playoff games in his career.
But once again the Patriots would be up for the challenge as just like it was versus the Chargers, they would receive the opening kickoff and methodically march down the field for a touchdown that gave them a 7-0 advantage which not only gave them the lead, but it also quieted the raucous crowd at Arrowhead Stadium. And even though that Brady didn’t have his best overall game as he threw a pair of interceptions which included turning the ball over in the end zone, he stepped up when his team needed him the most.
Once the fourth quarter rolled around, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes had figured out the Patriots defense that had shut them out in the first half. Mahomes helped the Chiefs score 24 points which included them taking their first lead of the game. But each time that the Chiefs would forge ahead, Brady showed why he is the best counter puncher at the position.
With the Patriots trailing 21-17 following Brady’s second interception of the game, he would rally his team on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard scamper from rookie running back Sony Michel to give New England the 24-21 lead. Mahomes would immediately respond by leading the Chiefs on a touchdown drive to retake the lead. But when the Chiefs only took 89 seconds to score, you knew something was going to happen as Brady still had two minutes to get the job done. Brady would lead the Patriots down the field on another scoring drive, and with just 39 second left, a Rex Burkhead scamper to the end zone would once again give New England the lead at 31-28.
The Patriots defense would once again be unable to stop the Chiefs from getting into scoring position as a field goal from kicker Harrison Butker would notch the score at 31 apiece which sent the game into overtime. And just like it was in the Patriots comeback when over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51, they’d win the coin toss and never look back.
Brady continued to operate like a surgeon in overtime as he kept the Chiefs defense off balance due to New England’s ability to run and pass. And with just under five minutes having elapsed in the overtime period, Burkhead once again found pay dirt which sent the Patriots to Atlanta for another Super Bowl appearance.
Brady would finish the game 30-of-46 passing for 348 yards with a touchdown pass and a pair of interceptions, but he was unflappable when his team needed him the most.
Brady continues to be a calm, cool, and collected character as he has a clutch gene that can be put in the line with the best who’ve ever played the game. Brady’s ability to help the Patriots win five Super Bowl Titles, secure the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, and still find a way to perform at a high level at this point of his career can be traced back to how his career in the National Football League began.
Coming out of the University of Michigan, Brady was a sixth-round selection by the Patriots in the 2000 National Football League Draft. And as a result of being overlooked by the majority of the NFL for so long in the draft process, it has left Brady with a chip on his shoulder that is still there. Brady always plays as if someone is attempting to take what he has away from him, and on top of that, he hates to lose more than he enjoys winning which is a driving force behind his continued excellence.
So as the Patriots are set to make another trip to the Super Bowl, there will be plenty of people who’ll want to see them and Brady get it handed to them by the Los Angeles Rams as they are hopeful that this New England dynasty is over. But instead of frowning at the Patriots sustained excellence, they should marvel at something which won’t be coming down the pike anytime soon. No team in National Football League history has made ten consecutive playoff appearances, while no player has made more appearances in the Super Bowl than Brady. Brady and Hall of Fame defensive end Charles Haley are the only players in NFL history to win five Super Bowl Titles, while Brady is the only four-time Super Bowl MVP. And as those people are hopeful for a Rams triumph on the first Sunday in February, don’t hold your breath because this guy could find a way to outsmart a defense that is loaded with Pro Bowl players such as defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Marcus Peters. And as there are plenty of people who’re doubting that Brady can get his sixth Super Bowl Title, be careful because he has more than a puncher’s chance of making it happen.