New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady received more criticism last year than perhaps any other season of his Hall of Fame career.
His stats -- 4,355 yards with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions -- were very good, but not the MVP level numbers we typically see from him. Brady did look a bit more human than normal throughout 2018, but in fairness, his top receivers (Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Josh Gordon) all missed multiple games due to injury or suspension. The Patriots also went 3-5 on the road and finished at 11-5 overall, ending their streak of seasons with 12-plus wins at eight.
Brady saved his best football for the perfect time, though. He was remarkable in the playoffs, including late game-winning drives in both the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs and Super Bowl LIII versus the Los Angeles Rams.
He recently was ranked No. 6 in the NFL Network series "NFL Top 100", which is voted on by the players. A few of them shared their thoughts on Brady in the video, including one of his teammates, Kyle Van Noy. The Patriots linebacker's message for Brady critics was spot on.
“Any time you get older, there’s negativity, but I just don’t get it.” Van Noy said. “People say he’s fallen off. It’s just like, what are you watching? He hasn’t had the craziest numbers, but he’s still playing at a high level. Just really a competitor. In the Chiefs game (in Week 6), he broke off a tackle and rushed it in the end zone. It just shows his fire, his desire to win and will to do anything. Even when you don’t think he can run, he’s still got it.”
Brady reminded everyone in the AFC title game and Super Bowl LIII that when the game is on the line, he's still by far the most trustworthy quarterback. The AFC Championship Game was particularly impressive. He led a go-ahead touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter in a hostile road environment in frigid weather. He then led a similar touchdown drive in overtime to punch New England's ticket to the Super Bowl. Brady didn't play very well in Super Bowl LIII, but he went 4-for-4 on the Patriots' touchdown drive in the fourth quarter that led to their 13-3 victory.
Brady turns 42 years old on Saturday, and despite being the oldest active starting quarterback, he's still one of the top players in the league regardless of position. Oddsmakers clearly aren't expecting a huge dropoff from Brady in the 2019 season -- the Patriots are the favorites to win Super Bowl LIV.
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