- Gene Wojciechowski, Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
So I'm watching Tom Brady as he walks toward the huddle with about five minutes left in the first quarter of Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's down, 3-0. The first New England Patriots series was a three-and-out. And the Steelers, including rocks-for-brains safety Anthony Smith, are over there thinking, "Splash on a little of this, Mr. Stetson Cologne boy. The perfect seasons ends tonight, Father of the Year!"
Except that Brady looks almost bored stiff. He looks like a guy I knew from high school, the one who does a perfecto on the SATs in the morning, has a face that acne forgot, and attracts prom queens like moths to porch lights. Not that I'm bitter or anything.
Brady just knows that the Patriots aren't going to lose. It's like he has a Tom To-Do list on his left wristband. Toy with Steelers ... Throw to No. 81. ... Make Anthony Smith cry.
And he did. Brady threw four touchdown passes (five, if Randy Moss doesn't contract a brief case of dropsies), steered the Pats to a 13-0 record, and humiliated the second-year pro, Smith, who guaranteed a Pittsburgh victory. Just think what he's going to do to the Spygate snitches New York Jets this Sunday in Foxborough.
Brady now has 45 touchdowns. Forty-five. With three regular-season games to go. You figure he throws nine against the Manginis, six against the winless Miami Dolphins and four against the New York Giants before he's pulled midway through the second quarter. That gives him 64 for the year. The scary thing: I'm only half-kidding.
Brady's numbers are beyond obscene, beyond otherworldly. He needs five more TD passes to move ahead of Peyton Manning's record of 49 in a single season. That's more than doable against the Jets, who shouldn't expect any mercy moments from Coach Hoodie at Gillette Stadium. Remember those Coliseum scenes from "The Gladiator?" It'll be like that. You'll need tweezers to pick up the remains.
To bring some clarity and perspective to Brady's season, think of it this way: He has more touchdown passes than the rest of the AFC East (31), more than the combined totals of Brett Favre and Drew Brees (44), and the exact combined totals of Peyton and Eli Manning. He also has just five interceptions in 476 pass attempts. Dallas' Tony Romo threw that many picks in a single game this season.
Go ahead and YouTube the "Saturday Night Live" skits, circa 1990s, featuring Bill Swerski's Superfans. They debate the superhuman powers of then-Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka. Ditka vs. a hurricane? Ditka wins, unless it was named Hurricane Ditka. Ditka can win the Indy 500 driving the Bears' team bus. That sort of thing.
Now there are Tim Tebowisms, in honor of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who just won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore.
When Google can't find something, it asks Tebow for help ... What color is Tebow's blood? Trick question. Tebow does not bleed ... Tebow ordered a Big Mac at Burger King -- and got one.
So how do we honor Brady, who is so clearly above Ditka and Tebow on the football food chain? Bradyisms?
Brady listens to God's confession ... Brad Pitt called. He wants handsome lessons ... Stetson smells good on Brady.
We are witnessing football greatness this season. Even if you despise the Patriots, you can't dispute their bona fides.
The curt, often-mysterious Bill Belichick has his team holding hands with an undefeated season. Even better, Belichick loosened up after Sunday's game and verbally vaporized the Steelers' Smith. Anybody who thinks Belichick can't hold a grudge or deliver payback -- are you listening, Jets? -- didn't see what he said about Smith after the loss ("He's just not very good," Belichick was quoted in a Chicago Tribune story).
The Patriots survived their three-games-in-15 days schedule, survived their close calls against the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens, survived the supposed last legitimate obstacle to an unbeaten regular-season record. They have a prideful veteran defense and an offense so astoundingly prolific that video-game language is being redefined. No longer do you say, "He's putting up PlayStation numbers." Instead, you say, "He's putting up Brady numbers."
Brady has help, of course. Without the renaissance of Moss, Brady wouldn't be chasing down Tweety Bird for that touchdown record. Then again, Moss wouldn't have 19 TD receptions this season, only three shy of Jerry Rice's single-season record, without Brady. To think that the Patriots acquired Moss from the Oakland Raiders for a fourth-round draft pick is funnier than Smith falling for all those play-action fakes Sunday.
But Brady, who has more touchdowns this season than he did during his entire career at Michigan, remains the centerpiece of 13-0. A former sixth-round pick, the 199th choice of the 2000 draft, is redefining the position, just as Manning and Marino redefined it before him.
Three more wins separate Brady and the Patriots from regular-season perfection. And with a playoff bye, three more wins after that separate Brady and the Patriots from their fourth Lombardi Trophy in seven seasons.
What must it be like for those teams who took a pass on Brady seven years ago? What if then-San Francisco 49ers coach Steve Mariucci had bought the pitch of Brady's agent Don Yee, who tried to convince the Niners to draft his Bay Area-born client. Brady attended a 49ers pre-draft workout and impressed no one. On draft day, the 49ers took Hofstra's Gio Carmazzi in the third round.
I feel Mariucci's pain. Brady was still available at the end of the second round of my ESPN league draft this past September. Instead, I took Jon Kitna because, well, I'm an idiot. When will we learn? The guy who took Brady two picks later in the third round has now won enough, uh, "chips" to buy Tiger Woods' Florida estate.
Not that I'm bitter or anything.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He co-authored Jerome Bettis' autobiography, "The Bus: My Life In and Out of a Helmet," which is available now.