Tom Brady has won three Super Bowls and is coming off a season in which he threw for the second most yards in NFL history. Eli Manning has done neither of those things, and really hasn't come close. But Manning is in the midst of a nice playoff run, which has definitely got the hype train a-rollin'. It has also set the stage for a somewhat silly debate, in which Brady's status as easily one of the top big-game quarterbacks of all time is suddenly being questioned.
Aiming to set the record straight, Patriots blog Pats Pulpit kicks a little k-nowledge about Brady's performances this season:
- Week 3 at Buffalo Bills: Down 31-24 in the fourth, Brady leads the Patriots' offense 71 yards in 15 plays, and has a clutch six yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Wes Welker with just three minutes remaining. Defense blows the lead in final seconds, Brady never gets the ball back.
- Week 6 vs. Dallas Cowboys: Trailing by three with just over two minutes remaining, Brady leads the offense 80 yards in 10 plays, taking the lead on a touchdown throw to Aaron Hernandez that left just seconds on the clock.
- Week 9 vs. New York Giants: Patriots score 17 fourth quarter points in comeback bid, with the team taking the lead with less than two minutes to play on a 4th and 8 Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski strike over the middle for a touchdown. Defense then blows another late lead.
- Week 16 vs. Miami Dolphins: With the Patriots down 17-0 at halftime, Brady helps lead a heroic comeback, with the Patriots erasing the deficit and hanging on to win 27-24 with a late Brady-to-Welker third down conversion.
- Week 17 vs. Buffalo Bills: The Patriots quickly fall to a 21-0 deficit in the first quarter, then are led back by Brady, who threw for three touchdowns as the Patriots went on to win 49-21.
Not to pick sides in this debate, but that we're even discussing Brady's big-game bonafides seems a tad absurd. In advancing to five Super Bowls and winning three, he's gone 16-5 in the playoffs. In those games, he's passed for nearly 5,000 yards and 36 touchdowns. The only knock against him, it would seem, is that he wasn't that good in the AFC Championship Game against the Baltimore Raves (229 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions). Throwing out the previous 20 games seems just a tad silly.