When the New England Patriots last won the Superbowl in 2005 George W. Bush was serving his first of two Presidential campaigns in the oval office, however Tom Brady’s astonishing heroics in several regular season games, especially against the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans, has given fans fresh hope of a first Superbowl victory in nine years.
What Brady has faced this season is nothing compared to his early years as a promising upcoming QB. Injuries to experienced players such as Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork and Stevan Ridley alongside the departures of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez has made Brady revalidate the way he commands the field. Despite the occasional public show of frustration he has successfully found a way to bond and succeed with his new look offense line. Some of the most stand-out performances of his career, under pressure, has resulted for the 5th consecutive season in the Patriots reaching the post-season as one of the two teams in the AFC (Denver Broncos being the other) to earn a play-off bye.
Brady will appear in his 25th post-season game, the most out of any starting NFL quarterback, aiming to add to his three Superbowl rings. After winning his first 17 play-offs games his record since 2008 stands at 3-5. Despite the drop in consistency he is still part of the best coach and QB tandem in history, that I personally think will have a big influence on reaching and winning Superbowl XLVXXX.
A record Brady could break in the next few matches could be for most touchdown passes thrown in the post-season. He currently has 42 career passes, the 3rd most in NFL history, behind Brett Farve (44) and the legend that is Joe Montana (45) and looks likely to break that record tonight against the Colts.
The team firstly standing in the way of Brady and an appearance at the MetLife Stadium in February is Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Nicknamed the ‘comeback team of the season’, after overturning four double-digit points deficits this season and especially after their first round wild card victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last week.
The 1st round draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft out of Stafford was instrumental in bringing his team back from the crutches of defeat to accomplish one of the greatest comebacks in NFL play-off history. Down 28 points at one stage, Luck converted the penultimate touchdown after a fumble at the one-yard line to then inspire a 45-44 victory after gracefully throwing the game winning touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton.
This season Brady has been on a mission, despite crippling injuries to key members of his O line, he has looked like a player possessed trying to win his 4th Superbowl ring. Notable displays in the regular season included against the then unbeaten New Orleans Saints where he threw the game winning touchdown pass with 0:05 on the clock in the 4th quarter to win the game 30-27, inspiring a memorable comeback victory (34-31) over one of the favourites for Superbowl XLVXXX the Denver Broncos after being 24-0 down at the half and a mad 61 seconds spell against the Cleveland Browns where he threw two touchdown passes to achieve a stunning 27-26 victory for the Patriots.
Both QBs will start tonight’s game without their go to guy, Rob Gronkowski is out with ACL and MCL injuries and Luck is also missing his main offence weapon with wide receiver Reggie Wayne out with a torn ACL. T.Y. Hilton will instead be Luck’s first option after setting a franchise record of 224 yards against the Chiefs in the wild card game last week. Patriot’s 2013 pro bowl selection CB Aqib Talib will be assigned with the task to try and hault Hilton, who without doubt will be brimming with confidence after his performance against the Kansas City Chiefs.
A spot in the AFC Championship Game hangs in the balance. An interesting statistic accompanies this highly coveted and awaited match-up, on the three previous occasions the sides have met in the play-offs the home team have gone on to win the Superbowl; good omens for Brady and co then.
Prediction: Patriots 34 – Colts 20, it takes some confidence and bottle to bet against Brady playing at home in Foxborough.