For two decades, Tom Brady established a reputation as arguably the most clutch quarterback in NFL history. His ability to perform under pressure, especially on the biggest stage, helped the New England Patriots win six Super Bowl titles.
Tom Brady’s poise under pressure helped him become an NFL legend
Tom Brady certainly had the benefit of working with arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history. But while Bill Belichick brought his own strengths to the table, he never threw a touchdown pass or had to evade an oncoming defensive end. That pressure fell on Brady, who proved he could handle just about any situation thrown his way.
Over the course of his Patriots career, the future Hall of Famer routinely brought his team back from fourth-quarter deficits. Many of those pressure-packed game-winning drives occurred on Super Bowl Sunday.
New England captured its first title thanks to Brady staying cool, calm, and collected despite his inexperience. Well before he earned The GOAT title, the former sixth-round pick out of Michigan marched the Patriots down the field against the Rams to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal. He also engineered key drives to help the Patriots capture two more titles early in his career.
Of course, after going 10 years without winning another ring, Brady reminded everyone of why he will be enshrined in Canton one day. Facing a historically dominant Seattle Seahawks defense, Brady engineered two lengthy touchdown drives that put the Patriots ahead for good.
Two years later, after falling behind 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons, Brady staged the largest comeback in Super Bowl history to earn his fifth ring. He added his sixth two years later thanks to another clutch fourth-quarter drive that included a terrific throw to Rob Gronkowski that set up the game’s only touchdown.
Brady just embarrassed himself by committing an inexcusable rookie mistake
In a cruel twist of fate, the most accomplished quarterback in NFL history committed an inexcusable rookie mistake that abruptly ended the Buccaneers’ comeback bid against the Bears on Thursday Night Football.
Down by a point with less than a minute remaining, the Buccaneers faced a pivotal third-and-6 from their own 41-yard line. Gronkowski failed to haul in a pass from his longtime quarterback, which gave the Buccaneers one more chance to extend the game.
However, apparently, someone forgot to tell Brady it was fourth down. The three-time NFL MVP threw an ill-advised pass to tight end Cameron Brate, who was blanketed by several defenders. After the incompletion, Brady could be seen holding up four fingers, which suggests he did not know the down and distance. Of course, Tampa had already turned the ball over on downs after the incompletion to Brate.
For a quarterback with Brady’s experience, the mistake is simply inexcusable. From day one, players are taught to know the down and distance. Yet, Brady committed a colossal mental error that would hardly be excusable for a rookie, let alone a 43-year-old with a Hall of Fame resume.
Ultimately, if he had known the situation, he would likely have looked to pick up the first down on a safer play. Instead, his lack of awareness brought a swift end to a drive that very well could have ended with Tampa kicking the game-winning field goal.
The Bucs can’t afford more mental lapses against the Packers
The Buccaneers and their star quarterback cannot afford another mental meltdown the next time they take the field. Aside from Brady forgetting the down and distance, Tampa committed 11 penalties for 109 yards.
In fact, Bruce Arians’ team currently leads the NFL with 42 penalties for 410 yards. Meanwhile, Brady’s former team has committed the fewest penalties.
But with the Green Bay Packers coming to town on Oct. 18, the Buccaneers have to clean up their discipline issues. Aaron Rodgers masterfully manipulates his cadence and snap counts to force defenses to jump offsides. That opens up big-play potential for Green Bay, who will likely get Davante Adams back for the Week 6 matchup.
Can Tampa correct its penalty issues in time for a huge showdown against one of the top teams in the NFC? Or will Brady and the Buccaneers fail to maintain their composure under pressure?
We’ll find out soon enough.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.