As Sunday night’s AFC Championship game wound down, the fans at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts began chanting loudly, “Where is Roger? Where is Roger?”
They were referring to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is seen as a nemesis in those parts after Tom Brady began this year suspended for four games due to his role in the “Deflategate” scandal.
When the final seconds ticked off the game clock of the Patriots’ 36-17 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England was on their way to their unprecedented ninth appearance in the Super Bowl. Brady has led the franchise to an incredible seven of those title game berths.
Love him or hate him, there’s no wiggle room when discussing his certain Hall of Fame legacy. Tom Brady is simply a baaaaaad Mother(shut’yo’mouf’!).
The Pats QB completed 32 of his 42 pass attempts and threw for a franchise playoff-best 384 yards in the Patriots’ remarkable seventh consecutive AFC championship game, and he is now gunning for his one-two-three-four-fifth NFL title with head coach and partner in crime, head coach Bill Belichick, by his side. No head coach has led his team to more Super Bowl appearances than Dollar, Dollar Bill, Ya’ll.
During Brady’s ban to open the season, New England went 3-1. Since he returned, they’ve run through the league like Montezuma’s Revenge on an American tourist in Mexico, going 13-1.
As they always do, New England thrived with an unheralded receiver taking center stage, as fourth-year vet Chris Hogan caught nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns, the second of which came on a flea-flicker. The man that always needs to be accounted for in New England’s precise short passing attack of deadly crossing routes, Julian Edelman, added eight catches for 118 yards and another score.
Brady tied Joe Montana’s playoff record with his ninth three-touchdown passing performance. Tom Terrific also extended his NFL record of 300-yard passing games in the playoffs to 11.
When Pittsburgh lost their star running back Le’Veon Bell late in the first quarter to a groin injury, it was an ominous sign of things to come. Bell was seen as the key to the Steelers hopes, but without him, the squad seemed relatively helpless to maintain any type of control.
After trailing 10-6, Pittsburgh never truly seemed like any threat to the brilliance of Brady and Belichick’s defensive game plan.
Love them or hate them, you have to salute what the two have accomplished together in New England. For Patriots haters, there’s one more opportunity for a potential celebration, as they’ll match up with Atlanta’s high-soaring offense and lively, opportunistic defense at Super Bowl 51 in Houston.
But for right now, with his Deflategate suspension still a source of motivation, Brady looks like there ain’t no stopping him now.