Texans vs. Patriots: Tom Brady Solidifies MVP Case with Prime-Time Domination

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IDecember 11, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after running the ball for a first down against the Houston Texans in the second half at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Week after week, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has built his case to be named the 2012 NFL MVP.

This final exhibit could be just the push the jury needs to reach a verdict.

Brady has long since begun making his case, but much like Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had his Heisman moment against Alabama, Brady may have had his MVP moment against the Texans.

The Patriots faced a big game on a national stage against a top AFC opponent. We still get excited about these games, but it's never too big for Brady.

The Patriots quarterback went a sizzling 21-of-35 passing (60 percent) for 296 yards (8.46 YPA), four touchdowns and a 125.4 passer rating. Considering the strength of his opponent, it may have been his finest performance of the season. The Texans ranked third in defensive passer rating, eighth in total pass defense and fifth in sacks headed into this game.

Brady started off hot, capping off the Patriots' first three drives with touchdown passes. The Patriots cooled off in the second quarter and into the third quarter, with three consecutive three-and-outs, but got back on track with a 63-yard deep bomb to wide receiver Donte' Stallworth.

It wasn't 60 minutes of total domination, but when the Patriots were moving, it was vintage Brady.

We even saw the 35-year-old 13-year veteran put his elusive skills on display with a rare scramble for a first down. The play, and his subsequent reaction, created quite the stir in the stands at Gillette Stadium.

Fans are chanting "MVP" for Brady. It's looking more and more like they may have a point.

— Nick Underhill (@Nick_Underhill) December 11, 2012

The run, the first down and then the celebration put the exclamation mark on the statement performance.

"At least there's a little bit of a threat there," Brady said. "Not a big threat—I'm not like RGIII back there or anything—but I can make a first down."

He does a lot of things better than Robert Griffin III, but that's not his primary competition for the MVP. That would be Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. While Manning's comeback from multiple neck surgeries has been a sight to behold, Brady's consistency has been off the charts this year. Monday night marked his fifth game over a 120 passer rating, the most for any quarterback this year. 

He is also the only starting quarterback not to finish below 60 percent completions in a single game this season.

Brady's 2012 season is superlative in its own right, but in an historic context, it is cementing a legacy.

With an interception percentage of 0.8, Brady is on pace to become the first quarterback since at least 1960 to have fewer than one percent of his passes intercepted in two seasons. Brady also logged an NFL-record 14th career game with four or more touchdown passes and no interceptions by achieving those numbers in Monday's win.

He is reaching these accolades in a year where he has consistently been without some of his top threats. Tight end Aaron Hernandez missed six games, and wide receiver Julian Edelman missed several games earlier this year and is now on injured reserve. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has already missed three games and is not likely to be back before the playoffs.

Of course, he has had one constant in Wes Welker, who is now just five receptions short of a record fifth season with 100 or more receptions. 

But make no mistake; Brady is the most valuable player on this team, and if AP voters get it right, he'll be voted the MVP of the 2012 season.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.