The guy who caught more than his fair share of criticism after the Patriots’ last Super Bowl loss has taken up for the Patriot who is receiving plenty of flak this time around.
Former New England safety Rodney Harrison, now with NBC’s Football Night in America, said on Tuesday’s Dan Patrick Show that it wouldn’t be right to point a finger at quarterback Tom Brady.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Harrison said, via NFL.com. “I think it ultimately comes down to ‘team.’ A lot of times, quarterbacks, as well as coaches, they get too much credit sometimes. But I don’t think Tom should take the heat. He had opportunities to make some plays, and he did. Some guys dropped some balls, that’s all part of football. They had opportunities.
“But I think it’s just the media’s way of saying, ‘Finally, we get a chance to say something negative about him. Finally, we get a chance to torch him.’”
That said, Brady wasn’t the same guy late in the game that he was while completing 16 straight passes, a Super Bowl record. It apparently happened after Giants defensive end Justin Tuck drove Brady’s left shoulder into the turf on a second-half sack. After that, Brady seemed to lose some of his accuracy, as demonstrated by the badly underthrown deep ball to Rob Gronkowski, a pass that was behind Deion Branch, and the notorious Wes Welker drop, which was the direct result of a ball for which Welker had to lunge, leap, and lay out to even get his hands on it. With a better throw from Brady in that moment, the Patriots would have painted the town red — and white and blue — on Tuesday.
The reality is that, in any close, hard-fought game, the team that lost can point to a handful of moments that could have nudged the pendulum the other way. Three times the Giants put the ball on the ground. Once, the Pats had one too many men on the field. Another time, six — yes, six — Patriots were in the vicinity of Hakeem Nicks, and the ball bounced away from all of them after Nicks dropped it. The third time, a fumble by Ahmad Bradshaw caromed off the helmet of James Ihedigbo.
Still, Brady was responsible for two close calls that could have given the Pats the win: the misfire to Gronkowski and the throw that required Welker to display the skills of an Olympic gymnast. Though it’s not fair to blame him for all of the other things that went wrong, it’s definitely fair to say that Brady failed to deliver on both of two chances to place himself on the Mt. Rushmore of quarterbacks.