As we all start to shake off the hangover of an absolutely electric NFL Kickoff Game, featuring the reigning champions hosting the team that was just featured on "Hard Knock" in front of the first capacity crowd since Super Bowl LIV in February of 2020, it's important that we take a moment to pause, and appreciate what we witnessed. And by that, I don't mean the lamest, most disappointing "banner raising" of all time. Where the Buccaneers organization took one of the most improbable, dramatic franchise turnarounds in the history of sports, and gave it all the excitement of turning on the light above the kitchen sink:
Amateurs. Some people don't deserve success.
Of course I'm focusing on Tom Brady. It's a cliche to say that an accomplished veteran athlete "is making history every time he/she steps on the field/court/ice/course/track." But in his case, it is literally true in every sense of the term. And before we move onto a weekend of college games, the rest of the NFL schedule, your Fantasy team and your usual drunken, debauched hijinks, you sinner, let us pause a moment to hold Brady's night up to the light and appreciate how unique and special what we are witnessing is.
Before we get into the polynomial math equations his last minute comeback victory produced, behold this magical moment:
I'm not saying that his complete and utter dismissal of Byron Leftwich is the first time a quarterback ever exercised veto power over his coach's play call. I seem to recall Notre Dame doing the same thing to Dan Devine and throwing a touchdown bomb so that Georgia Tech would get the ball back and Rudy could get in the game. And Peyton Manning once famously sent Tony Dungy's punting team back to the sidelines so he could go for it on 4th down.
But Brady is on a whole other level. This is a man in full. At the height of his powers. In complete control of his operation. He's the captain of his own ship, countermanding orders from the brass because those desk jockeys don't have the first clue how the battle is going. I say again that at some point last year, after struggling early on to get used to Bruce Arians' precious offense, with its lack of motions and reliance on post-snap decisions only, that Brady cut the cord on Arians' headset and told him to sit back and watch the fireworks. And that weirdo apparatus the coach wears is just to keep him connected to his Yacht Rock station. It's only out of courtesy that Brady keeps Leftwich in the loop. In fact, Brady should be the one who's mic'd and Leftwich should have the green dot on the back of his hat. They've got the wrong guy talking and the wrong guy listening.
That said, to the numbers. Because they melt your brain on an almost weekly basis. Because Brady continues to do things that defy a century-plus of conventional football wisdom. For instance, he threw two interceptions last night. Granted, the first was a perfectly thrown screen that went right through Leonard Fornette's mitts and the other was a Fuck It, Why Not, end-of-half heave into the end zone. But still, traditionally, two picks in a game spells doom almost every time it happens. But not with this QB:
Make that 26-29.
Even more so, throwing 50 or more passes in a game has always been a harbinger of doom. A sure sign that you are losing in a big way, desperate, and have no choice but to go one-dimensional. Again, not with this GOAT:
In other words, he has more wins in this category than the next four quarterbacks combined. And three of them are in the Hall of Fame. And sticking with that 50+ passing attempts, he hit marks last night that QBs have accomplished only a handful of times in 70 years. Meaning six times. So a handful if you're Count Rugen.
Now consider last night's Game Winning Drive which, according to Pro Football Reference, was the 49th of his career, putting him just behind Peyton Manning and Drew Brees on the all time list. In the regular season, that is. But add his record 14 postseason GWDs, (John Elway is second on the list with six) and last night was his 63rd overall. No one comes within 16 of that mark.
And to narrow the focus a little, there's the matter of his connection to his No. 1 receiving target:
So while improbable, given the way Brady was delivering the ball to Gronk even through windows that were only open a crack in double coverage:
… it's not out of the realm to think they'll own that record by the end of the year. Next at the latest.
And before we move onto the weekend, we'd be remiss if we didn't turn the floor over to the analytics guys, to see if their grades saw what we did.
And in case you didn't hear this mentioned in the last 12 or so hours, Tom Brady is 44. Which is only 22 in metahuman years.
This is going to go on all year. It's going to go on forever. Kiss the rings.