INDIANAPOLIS — How much shine has come off of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in recent years?
The duo has now gone seven years without a Super Bowl after winning three titles in a four-year span. Since then, they’ve posted a playoff record of 7-6, losing twice in the in the Super Bowl itself.
It goes well beyond Brady and Belichick, obviously.
By all indications, Brady’s still an elite quarterback. He’s had three historically good seasons in the last five years, which is pretty amazing considering that he lost 2008 due to a knee injury. And on Sunday night, the guy did complete 16 consecutive passes at one point.
And by all indications, Belichick is still a Hall of Fame coach. He won 11 games without Brady in 2008 and captured the AFC’s top seed the last two years despite the fact New England’s had considerable turnover on both sides of the ball. His draft record is still superb, and his teams continue to dominate despite ranking in the bottom of the barrel defensively.
That said, this was a quarterback-coach duo that was seemingly destined to eclipse the accomplishments of anyone who had ever played/coached the game. And now, they have two rather glaring stains that might prevent them from earning those reputations.
Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw never lost any Super Bowls. Neither did Chuck Noll or Bill Walsh.
When it mattered Sunday night, Brady was outplayed by Eli Manning. Again.
And based on New York’s ability to avoid costly penalties and keep the chains moving with slightly more success than the Pats, despite losing two tight ends to injury during the game, I’d argue that Tom Coughlin outcoached Belichick. Again.
It’s funny, because if Mario Manningham doesn’t make a circus sideline catch on New York’s final drive, or if an injured Rob Gronkowski is able to secure just one of two prayer throws from Brady, I’m writing a completely different post right now.
If that happens, I’m claiming that they’ve regained or even bolstered their legacies. But dynasties have to be able to overcome bad breaks.
And don’t blame the reputably horrific defense. This is a unit that gets beat on a lot, but the coverage was fantastic for much of the night. They held the Giants to only 19 offensive points, and that number would have been quite a lot lower had it not been for Manning’s astonishing accuracy.
This came down to making big plays in big moments, and despite outplaying the Giants for much of the game, the Patriots made fewer plays.
As a result, Brady and Belichick have lost some more luster.