FOXBORO (CBS) — He’s won 150 games as the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots, including three Super Bowls, 17 playoff games and countless “big games” in front of national audiences. Regardless, this past week will be one to remember for Tom Brady.
The Patriots’ quarterback welcomed his first daughter to the world on Wednesday, but Brady showed no signs of sleep deprivation Monday night. Facing the 11-1 Texans, who boasted a top-five defense with a ferocious pass rush, Brady calmly and coolly led his team to a 42-14 victory by efficiently completing 21 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns on Monday Night Football.
He broke that demeanor, though, on the final play of the third quarter. With that pass rush bearing down on him from both sides on a third down, Brady stepped up into the pocket like he has so many times before. This time, however, instead of firing a pass to an open receiver, Brady took off running. He scampered for six yards, moving the chains and setting up the Patriots for their fifth touchdown of the night.
Brady popped up from his slide and demonstratively let the crowd know just how excited he was.
“I was pretty fired up at that point,” Brady said after the game. “[I had to show] the opposing defenses that say I can’t run and won’t move out of the pocket, at least there’s a little bit of threat there. Not a big threat — I’m not like RG3 out there or anything.”
The 6-yard run will hardly be remembered in Brady’s Hall of Fame career. What would make a permanent mark on the resume would be an MVP Award at season’s end. After his performance Monday night increased his touchdown total to 29 on the year (with just four interceptions), Brady-for-MVP talk was a common theme in the Patriots’ postgame locker room.
Yet as is the Patriots’ way, Brady wouldn’t entertain hypothetical questions about who he’d vote for if he had to pick an MVP.
“I don’t have a vote. I can’t answer hypotheticals,” Brady said. “We don’t answer hypotheticals at the Patriots. [Bill] Belichick would stand up here [in a meeting] and say, ‘You moron, why would you answer a hypothetical question like that?'”
Belichick, for his part, offered a typically Belichickian response when asked if there’s any player in the league more valuable than Brady.
“I don’t know,” Belichick said. “We don’t play everybody in the league. He’s our quarterback and I’m glad we’ve got him.”
One player less shy about opening up for Brady as the MVP was Donte Stallworth, who in his first game back with the Patriots broke free for a 63-yard catch and run to stretch the Patriots’ lead to 28-0 in the third quarter.
“If I had a vote, it definitely would go to him,” Stallworth said of Brady. “He’s playing well and it’s just typical Brady. You see him playing like that year in and year out, and he’s been one of the best players in this league for a long time. He works hard for everything that he gets, so he deserves it.”
Whether or not Brady actually does end up with the MVP at season’s end depends on a whole lot more on things outside of his control. Assuming he continues on his current pace, though, he’ll finish the year with more than 4,700 yards to go with 36 touchdowns and five interceptions. Those numbers would all rank among the best of his career, but with Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson making their own cases, the ultimate winner is anyone’s guess at this point. Plus, as Brady made clear, he doesn’t worry about hypotheticals.
As is usual for Brady, he didn’t spend too much time focusing on the past and instead repeated lines of improving every week, both for himself and his teammates. And really, he won’t need a third MVP Award to bolster his case for Canton; he had that spot locked up long ago.
But he did display a bit of candor when a reporter told him that by the time Brady’s new baby daughter grows old enough to know what the quarterback did for a living, Brady will likely be retired.
Brady quickly interjected: “I hope not.”
With the way Brady’s playing this year at age 35, and with the way 68,000 fans showered him with “M-V-P” chants, not many folks in the area do.