You guys, Peyton Manning is going to the Super Bowl, which means two weeks of narrative stories about how he’s playing a team he passed over in free agency two years ago. And I don’t even care about that pain to come, for it is Patriots Schadenfreude Day for the next 24 hours. Very fitting that it should overlap with MLK Day.
Pundits clamored the entire week about how the Patriots transformed themselves into a power running team against a terrible Colts rush defense. It was a key part of silly argument that this year iss THE BEST COACHING PERFORMANCE BY BELICHICK EVER, REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS GOING FORWARD! Then New England ran into a team with a run defense not ranked in the 20s during the regular season and suddenly the run game vanished.
That meant that Tom Brady would have to win the game for the Patriots, as has been the team’s M.O. pretty much since their Super Bowl winning ways came to an end a decade ago. On this day, Brady wasn’t up to it. He missed wide open receivers on what would have been huge plays. It wasn’t until late in the second half, when New England trailed by three scores, that their offense came to life.
By that point, the game was just about over. There was a point after the Patriots first touchdown that the Patriots, down 23-10, might come back. And then Peyton buried them with a time-consuming drive. The most devastating play coming on a pass to Julius Thomas, who beat Jamie Collins, a linebacker only playing because Bill Belichick put Brandon Spikes on IR for being late to a meeting because of the snow.
Tom Brady vs. Jack Del Rio defenses: 7-0, 171-of-235, 1,771 yards, 17 TDs. 0 INTs. Passer rating of 121.1 http://t.co/IGyuUpuFZF
— Eric Wilbur (@GlobeEricWilbur) January 17, 2014
Coming into Sunday, there was a lot of noting of how Brady has consistently victimized Jack Del Rio’s defenses over the years. And perhaps Del Rio’s defense didn’t force him into any turnovers, but they took away the running game that made it easy for Brady last week. In essence, Del Rio gave Brady just enough responsibility to let the Patriots down. The media will do everything it can to point to the Talib injury making it possible for Denver to play ball control offense, and there’s some truth to that. Of course, it’s not Talib’s fault that the Patriots didn’t score more than three points until the fourth quarter.
That’s right, Brady, you lost to Jack Del Rio. Now spend eight months thinking about that.