Before the New England Patriots faced the Denver Broncos on Jan. 14, the Patriots' recent January ineptitude was the second biggest story behind Tim Tebow. In fact, New England had been starting to resemble my own Philadelphia Eagles lately, given how it has kept falling short in surprising, upsetting fashion in the playoffs since the 2005 Super Bowl win over Philadelphia.
It seemed that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had lost their postseason touch, which might have made them vulnerable to the Hollywood magic of Tebowmania. But it was Bradymania that used to rule in the playoffs every year, and now that time might have come again after Brady's record-setting annihilation of Tebow and the Broncos.
The 45-10 win was barely that close, as the most anticipated game of the postseason was finished after Brady threw five first-half touchdowns and two in the final two minutes. While Brady could not miss, Tebow either couldn't complete anything or was once again handcuffed by John Fox's play calling. After "pulling the trigger" to stunning effect against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 8, Tebow had no room to make 30-80 yard completions this time.
Given the Patriots' poor defense, their bad luck in Foxboro in the last few postseasons and the already improbable rise of Tebow, it was easier to believe an upset might happen - or at least that the game would be competitive in the second half. Yet the 2002-2005 three-time Super Bowl winning Patriots and Brady easily found ways to stomp out such foolish thinking, and so did the 2007-08 Patriots for all but one game. For this night, those old New England teams and the old playoff Brady made a triumphant comeback
Brady and the Patriots have waited a longer time than they expected for a fourth ring, and could have easily had five by now if not for a few bits of bad luck. But the road seems to be clearing up more and more for a fourth ring now. New England gets to host either the Baltimore Ravens or Houston Texans in the AFC title game, while Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are no longer potential Super Bowl opponents. However, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers - plus a few old ghosts from the New York Giants - are still lurking around.
Once New England plays a team that isn't 8-8 and led by a 9-for-26 passer, things might be different. But for the divisional playoffs, the Patriots and Brady once again looked like the all-powerful figures who breezed through the postseason and won Super Bowls left and right. Those old days looked pretty far away in their last two playoff upset losses, yet perhaps this is finally their time to break through after all - if a three-time world champion can "finally break through."
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Sports & Recreation/American Football
- Tom Brady
- Tim Tebow
- Philadelphia Eagles
- New England