As the Ravens prepare for New England this Sunday in a game that is a must-win for the Ravens, and certainly could only help the Patriots in their quest for the 2nd AFC playoff seed, you will hear a lot about Tom Brady in the national media.
Tom Brady is truly a great NFL quarterback and this piece will do nothing to suggest otherwise, but that being said, the weekly (sometimes daily) media groveling over his greatness should make any self-respecting Baltimore fan quite ill, and for good reason as it turns out.
It’s true: Brady has taken the Patriots to five, count-em, five Super Bowls since arriving in New England in 2002 for a 3-2 record in such games, one more win and three more games than the Ravens have since 2000. Brady is a two-time NFL MVP and two-time Super Bowl MVP, joining Joe Montana as the only players to have won multiple league and Super Bowl MVPs.
Many national media members can get downright romantic in their love and affection for Brady, often drooling over these stats, plus every comeback, hairstyle change, girlfriend, wife or bro/teammate Brady seems to have (like Wes Welker or Ted Bruschi).
It can make watching a Patriots game in which they do anything, well, a nausea-inducing experience for really any football fan whose team is not the Patriots. Add to it the number of times ESPN or NFL Network, and the other broadcast networks show a particular clip of the QB celebrating like a schoolgirl after winning the Super Bowl. You know the shot: Brady wears a backwards-turned ball cap, looks confused, delighted, throws his hands over his head while confetti falls. Disgusting if you are not a Patriots fan, right?
The funny thing is that even with the obsession national media members like Bob Costas, Dan Patrick, Dan Dierdorf, Phil Simms, Jim Nantz, known Pats fan Peter King, former Pats players Rodney Harrison and Bruschi and others seem to have for Brady, Baltimore fans actually have a point in not being too impressed with him..
The reality that you will never hear from Costas or any other top “journalist” when it comes to reporting on Brady: he’s really a crappy quarterback against the Ravens. In fact, they basically own him. Even the New York Giants, to whom the Patriots have lost two Super Bowls, haven’t stifled him like Baltimore has; Brady has played quite well against Big Blue.
Conversely, in the last five Ravens/Patriots games, Brady’s team is 1-2 in playoff games (in Foxborough) and just 2-3 overall against the Ravens. Not good. Brady’s numbers against Baltimore are horrorshow.
On that regard, writer, Howard Ulman of the Associated Press, apparently did not get the “praise Brady at all times” memo. He actually tells the true story, written before the Ravens/Patriots 2013 AFC Championship on the specifics of those numbers:
“His 58.6 completion percentage and 74.1 passer rating are the lowest against any opponent. The Ravens are the only team he’s thrown more interceptions against (eight) than touchdowns (seven). They’ve sacked him 16 times, one of five teams averaging more than two a game against Brady…
Brady’s 49.1 rating in a 33-14 playoff loss to Baltimore on Jan. 10, 2010 is his lowest in his last 101 games and sixth lowest in his 198 career starts, including the postseason.”
In the 2013 Championship Game – a game the Patriots lost 28-13 – things got worse: Brady did finish with 320 yards passing on 29-54, but had one touchdown and two interceptions, continuing the trend of throwing more picks than TDs against the Ravens, and his completion percentage was not very high at just 53 percent.
The QB looked constantly frustrated, and after the game said, “I can’t remember the last time we lost by 15 points. I just can’t.”
In fairness to Brady, the QB has gone out of his way to show respect for the Ravens, even doing so when other players or teams treated them lightly.
But this only makes sense when you don’t play well against a team.
It also doesn’t make up for the QB’s constant whining to officials over being even slightly touched by Ravens defenders, begging for cheap 15-yard penalties Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger wouldn’t even think to beg for, much less receive, leaving many Ravens fans to begrudgingly respect Big Ben of the hated Steelers far more than Tom “Terrific.”
The reasons for Brady being statistically worse against the Ravens than any other team? The Ravens have constantly blitzed the QB, something former Colts Coach Tony Dungy said recently you have to do against Brady. The Ravens, particularly with the help of now-former safety Ed Reed, baited the QB into bad passes and turnovers that caused Brady to lose rhythm and tempo.
The blitz and the lack of fear the Ravens show for Brady certainly makes things difficult. Terrell Suggs said to ESPN that he doesn’t like Brady and the Patriots and called them all “arrogant pricks” after the AFC Championship. Sources tell me many of the players in the Ravens locker room share Suggs’ views though they are less publicly vocal about them.
Even in Brady’s moment of triumph against the Ravens, the 2012 AFC Championship, Brady said of his own play that he “sucked” and in fact the game probably should have been a loss for New England but for the dropped game-winning touchdown from Lee Evans and missed chip-shot field goal from Billy Cundiff that otherwise should have sent the game to overtime.
So as the Ravens-Patriots game approaches, if you are a Ravens fan, do yourself a favor and ignore most of everything you read or watch from the national media, mostly syrupy garbage, and know the truth is in the numbers. Statistically-speaking Tom Brady really does stink against Baltimore.
The Ravens hope Sunday proves again that numbers do not lie.