On Sunday afternoon, Tom Brady broke a quarterback record with his 201st victory.
He did so with ease, throwing for 269 yards and a touchdown in a 26-10 victory over the Rams. And as he walked off the field to chants of “Brady! Brady!” in Foxboro, it was reasonable to wonder if he can get another 50 wins. Or maybe more?
Is that even possible?
With Brady, isn’t anything possible?
The win put him past Peyton Manning who dominated football for nearly two decades and hobbled into an obvious retirement after winning the last Super Bowl. But Brady, who is 39, is not hobbling. If anything he is actually more efficient this season than ever, completing nearly 69% of his passes and throwing 19 touchdowns while only being intercepted once.
To date, the only thing that has limited Brady is Roger Goodell and the quarterback’s own culpability in Deflategate. His four-game suspension probably cost him further victories. But otherwise the things that have destroyed other great quarterbacks – health and a failing supporting cast – have not been a problem. Aside from the torn ACL he suffered on the first game of the 2008 season he has never missed a game because of injury and continues to direct division-winning teams as the roster churns around him.
This weekend was a perfect example of Brady’s seeming invincibility. For three weeks he has limped around the Patriots offices on a sore knee that came courtesy of Seattle’s Kam Chancellor in Week 10. One of the ongoing storylines before the Rams game was Brady’s place on the injury report followed by questions of whether he would be able to play. Not that there was much of a question, really. At the same time, New England’s star tight end Rob Gronkowski – one of Brady’s favorite targets – was heading into season-ending back surgery. While yet another of Brady’s team-mates was left to contemplate his football mortality, Brady was whipping passes to seven Patriots receivers on Sunday. If this continues who or what is going to stop Brady?
The NFL’s oldest quarterback was George Blanda, who retired at 48. But Blanda was mostly a kicker who rarely played quarterback in the last decade of his career. Warren Moon started until he was almost 42, then became a rarely-used back up for two more years after getting hurt. Brady seems capable of blowing apart all of these benchmarks … if he wants to.
So far he has been annoyingly elusive on the subject.
“I want to play a long time,” he told ESPN this past summer. “Maybe 10 more years,” he said in a conference call to the New York media last fall. “I would love [to play until 50],” he told Men’s Health in 2012.
A more likely answer may be: as long as Bill Belichick coaches the Patriots. It was, after all, Belichick who trusted Brady to take over the team as an unknown second-year player early in the 2001 season when Drew Bledsoe was injured, and started him in that Super Bowl against the Rams. They have been the key to each other’s success with Belichick finding exactly the right complements for Brady and Brady continuing to win as new names appear.
The moment one retires, the other should follow right behind.
On Sunday the Patriots honored the Super Bowl XXXVI team that upset the Rams back in February 2002. Most of the players who came onto the Gillette Stadium turf for the halftime celebration had long been retired. The most famous of them all could not join them. He was still playing, of course, looking as if the record he set Sunday will be his for a very long time.
Quote of the week
“When you throw the ball 60 times you’re going to miss some. That kind of happens.”
Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz did indeed throw 60 times in Sunday’s 32-14 loss at Cincinnati and he missed often. Twenty-four times as a matter of fact. Though three of those were actually completed to Bengals defensive players. Such struggles were to be expected for someone who was only a two-year starter at a FCS college, but after a solid start to the season, his performance has deteriorated as defenses have adjusted to him. He now has 10 interceptions in his last seven games, and there appears to be some tension between Wentz and head coach Doug Pederson, a mentor of quarterbacks. Pederson, in recent comments has said Wentz needs to work on his mechanics. Wentz said he simply missed on “some” throws. This is probably more of the typical frustration that comes after a loss and not a dispute between a quarterback and his coach. But Wentz will likely have more days like Sunday’s before things get better.
Gif of the week
How boring the NFL would be without Raiders punter Marquette King. He might be the first punter in recent memory to get an unsportsmanlike penalty on a play in which he was hit. King who sometimes celebrates his punts with dances,or his famous pony ride against the Broncos was not happy to be knocked to the ground while delivering a punt in the Raiders 38-24 over Buffalo. So imagine his joy at finding the foul had been noticed by the officials. Perhaps if he had danced for joy without the flag in his hand a penalty wouldn’t have been called. But dancing with the official’s flag does qualify as a personal foul penalty and the NFL is just slightly less fun.
Fantasy player of the week
Wouldn’t it have been awful if you had pondered Joe Flacco’s meandering season of mediocrity, noted that he had more interceptions than touchdowns and picked someone else as your starting quarterback? Not when you could predict the Ravens were going to throw the ball nearly every play on Sunday and that Flacco would complete 36-of-47 passes. Surely, you knew those 36 completions would go for 381 yards and that four of those catches would be touchdowns. Thank goodness you didn’t do something silly and sit Flacco for Drew Brees playing at home where he is almost always unstoppable.
Stat of the week
0. The combined total of pass completions between Bears quarterback Matt Barkley and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick in the first quarter of their game Sunday. It was a dreadful 15 minutes. In fact, it was the worst 15 minutes of quarterbacking in 28 years, going back to 13 November 1988 when the Jets and Patriots combined for zero completions in a quarter. That game, played at old Giants Stadium, featured former college star Doug Flutie against Ken O’Brien and was won 14-13 by New England. Together, the two finished with 17 completions in the game. That was much better than Kaepernick and Barkley, who were dreadful in the snow on Sunday. At least Barkley managed to put together an afternoon that wasn’t too miserable, completing 11 of 18 passes for 192 yards. Kaepernick, playing in his first snow game, was awful, completing one of four passes for four yards before being replaced by Blaine Gabbert. It was a performance that should make one seriously question the Kaepernick analysis that appeared in this space last week.
Elsewhere around the league
-- Seattle safety Earl Thomas left the Seahawks 40-7 trampling of the Panthers with a fractured bone in his lower leg. Obviously disappointed, Thomas sent a melancholy tweet during the game that said: “This game has been good to me no regrets. A lot is running through my mind including retirement thanks for all the prayers.”
-- Denver’s first-round draft choice Paxton Lynch made his second start of the season filling in for the injured Trevor Siemian. He did not have a terrific debut, throwing for just 104 yards and no touchdowns but was not intercepted. Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles was picked off twice and the Broncos won 20-10, sliding into the last AFC wild card slot.
-- Houston’s Brock Osweiler and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers did better in the snow as Lambeau Field was glazed in white during Green Bay’s 21-13 victory. Both men only managed just over 200 passing yards but they threw for two touchdowns each and no interceptions.
This article was written by Les Carpenter, for theguardian.com on Monday 5th December 2016 10.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
Have something to tell us about this article?