Here we are. The Friday before the kick off of Super Bowl LI. Interestingly enough, this is the anniversary of two notable New England Patriots Super Bowl appearances. Fifteen years ago tonight, Tom Brady and the Patriots hoisted their first ever Lombardi Trophy. At the same time, on this night nine years ago, one of the franchise's most infamous losses occurred. That was was to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. On that night in Glednale, Arizona, New England saw their chances of a 19-0 season slip right through their fingers. Not only did that chance for a perfect season slip away, any chance that Brady had of being the best quarterback ever slipped right through his hands.
This may sound blasphemous, but that one game was enough to prevent Tom Brady from being the best ever. Over the past few seasons, Brady has played better than ever. That isn't an easy task for a player who is rapidly approacing 40. At this point in his Hall of Fame career it is easier to look for records that Brady doesn't own, especially in the postseason.
When it comes to the Super Bowl, no quarterback in history holds more records than Brady. Entering Super Bowl LI some of the all time Super Bowl records that Brady owns are most passing yards (1,605), most passing touchdowns (13), and completions (164). He is also tied with Joe Montana for most Super Bowl MVPs (3) and tied with Terry Bradshaw and Montana for most Super Bowl wins by a quarterback (4). Those are all impressive numbers for sure, however when you play in six Super Bowls it isn't very surprising that you hold those records.
On this night nine years ago, the Giants had one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history as they slayed the Patriots. In that game, the almighty Brady managed to score a whooping 14 points. Ths came a month after hanging 38 points on the same exact team in week 17. Brady had a very pedestrian game in that Super Bowl. He went 29-48 for only 266 yards and one touchdown and only an 82.5 quarterback rating. A month prior to that game, Brady completed 32-42 for 356 yards, two passing touchdowns, and a 116.8 quarterback rating. Those stats are a drastic change from game to game. To take things a step furhter, those average stats Brady posted in Super Bowl XLII were coming off the heels of a season in which he threw for 4,806 passing yards, 50 touchdowns, and a 117.2 quarterback rating.
In what might have been the most important Super Bowl of Brady's career, he choked to put it simply. A quarterback that posts out of the world stats like he had all season long to come out in the Super Bowl and only score 14 points is nothing short of a choke. Yes, the Giants had a great pass rush all game long and were able to make Brady feel uncomfortable. Simply put, those 14 points were not good enough to win that game. When scoring, or lack thereof, is the reason your team loses in the Super Bowl that falls squarely on the shoulders of the quarterback.
If any other all time great quarterback lines up under center for New England in that game, you have to think that the Patriots score more than 14 points in that game. If you take the greatest quarterback of all time, Joe Montana, and put him under center for New England, then the Patriots finish their unprecedented 19-0 season.
Not only did Brady choke that game away in Super Bowl XLII, but he also lost to the Giants once again four years later in Super Bowl XLVI. Two Super Bowl losses against the same team? Those aren't good optics for someone who is perceived to be the best ever.
If you compare Brady's career stats to Montana's in the Super Bowl, it isn't even close. Montana has the highest quarterback rating all time in the Super Bowl (127.8) Brady isn't even in the top ten all time. Brady has Montana beat in career Super Bowl passing yards, Montana threw for 1,142 yards in the Super Bowl. He also did that in only four games. To this point, Brady has two more career Super Bowl passing touchdowns than Montana, but Brady has played in more games. Montana never threw an interception in his four career Super Bowl appearances, Brady has thrown eight in the six games he's played in so far. The most important stat though, Montana never lost in his four Super Bowls whereas Brady has lost twice, to the same time.
There is no doubt that Brady is the best quarterback of his generation. When it comes to the king of the Super Bowl, there should be zero question, Montana has the edge over Brady. The quarterback position ultimately boils down to winning, Montana did that at a higher level than Brady has.
Even if Brady and New England win their fifth Super Bowl on Sunday night, nothing will compare to the dominance that Montana had with the San Francisco 49ers. That gives Montana the edge when it comes to being the best ever. The case for Brady certainly can be made, but look no further than Super Bowl XLII when it comes to why Brady isn't and will never be the best ever. If Brady had played like he did all season long in that game, there is zero doubt that Brady is the greatest ever. Had he played the way he was capable of playing in that game, Brady is looking at a 5-1 career Super Bowl record and would be the only quarterback in history to orchestrate a 19-0 season. Alas, Brady choked in Super Bowl XLII and any chance he ever had of being the best ever went right out the window.