Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Are Brady and Belichick no longer clutch?
By James Walker
There was a time when quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick were untouchable in big games. The New England Patriots' power pair was undefeated in their first 10 playoff games together, which included a run of three Super Bowls in four years from 2001-2004.
But since then, the Hall of Fame duo has been hit or miss in the postseason. The Patriots are just 7-7 in their past 14 playoff games, which includes a 0-2 record in Super Bowls and Sunday’s upset loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.
Are Brady and Belichick no longer clutch? That's a fair question to ask at this stage of their careers.
Brady and Belichick have amassed more wins than any quarterback and coach combination in NFL history. But for all their early success in big games, New England has had just as many playoff disappointments in recent years. The Patriots were beaten twice by the New York Giants in the Super Bowl the past four seasons.
Some have classified New England's loss to Baltimore Sunday as a choke job. The Patriots were more than a touchdown favorite and never lost at home in an AFC title game.
I disagree and I think the Ravens were just a better team. Baltimore proved it by beating the Patriots over eight quarters this year in both the regular season and playoffs.
Counting on Brady and Belichick to come through in a big game is no longer a safe assumption. The pair has developed a reputation for being clutch due to their early Super Bowl wins, but that equity has run out.
They have built a tremendous legacy together, but just as their first four years will be remembered for key performances and championship wins, their past eight years will be known for coming up short in big games.