But with his performance in the New England Patriots' loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football, Tom Brady reminded us all just how far ahead he is in terms of the elite QBs in football, and why he is the league's most valuable player yet again.
And he did so in a loss.
Brady didn't have great numbers in the Pats' 41-34 loss to the Niners. He finished with 443 yards, yes, but had just one passing touchdown and two interceptions to pair with those numbers. He also added a rushing score on the night.
The Niners jumped out to a huge 31-3 lead behind Patriots miscues. RBs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley both coughed it up. Brady had the two miscues in the form of interceptions, and the defense couldn't contain or stop the San Francisco offense to save its life.
Brady was also missing on throws he normally makes in the first half. The pressure from the Niners' defense helped create problems—a recurring theme in game plans for teams that have managed to beat the Patriots during the Brady era.
But in a true testament to just how valuable Brady is to his team—and the NFL viewing audience—he mounted a comeback that would have been one of the greatest in league history if completed with a "W" in the books.
Brady led four straight touchdown drives at the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter, and had his team in position to win the game—if the defense could make a stop.
No one can deny that San Francisco won this game outright. Colin Kaepernick and the offense were as explosive as ever, and San Francisco withstood the late Patriots charge by charging right back.
However, there isn't a QB in this league that has had the kind of impact this man has had on the team in New England. Manning has a case in Denver, and Drew Brees has one in New Orleans, but there aren't many guys who prove their worth more week-in and week-out than Brady.
He does so without any big-name receivers, and a defense that has been one of the worst in the NFL over the course of the 2012 season.
The MVP race is still anyone's to win. Peterson added another 212 yards to his impressive total, meaning he'll have a real shot to break Eric Dickerson's all-time regular season rushing record. Manning's ninth straight win continued to put pressure on the rest of the field.
If Brady can put together respectable numbers, he'll likely have the inside track on the award. He could most certainly finish with the most passing yards in the NFL, and was still the current leader in QB rating heading into the ballgame.
There's an old saying—sometimes you learn more about a team after a loss than you do a win.
In this case, we learned more about a player.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.
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