Breaking down the 4th quarter through Tom Brady's eyes
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The Super Bowl has been broken down a million times in the past 8 days, but now we get to hear from Tom Brady himself. He interviewed with Sports Illustrated and gave his take on the 4th quarter when he marched the offense down the field and put the Patriots ahead.
On Julian Edelman's big catch on 3rd and 14:
Brady: “Would this have been a four-down situation here? I don’t know. The way it worked, Sherman had Gronkowski. Danny had a deeper incut. He was the go-to guy, but they squeezed him on defense, so I couldn’t go there. Now LaFell … He had a deep comeback. When you wait for a guy—what does he run the 40 in, and what can he run 25 yards in? Maybe 2.8 seconds, three seconds? You have to wait for him. So their rush sort of ran past me, and I moved up in the pocket. As a quarterback, you start to feel the rhythm of the pass-rush as the game goes on; your body develops a cadence. You feel what they’re doing. Russell Wilson, he doesn’t care—he can outrun them. I can’t. So I have to make the calculated decision. I had the ball quite a while there.
Me: “Well, 3.48 seconds, to be exact.”
Brady: “Probably the longest time I had all game. Julian was the last option I had on the play, and there he was, in the middle.”
On Shane Vereen's catch in the flat:
Brady: “We knew Shane needed to play a big role in the game. The halfback would be critical against an All-Pro secondary because you’re not going to target Sherman 12 times, Chancellor 12 times. The big challenge for him was to catch it and make yards, while at least one of their guys was going for the strip. They killed the Broncos last year with that in the Super Bowl.”
Talking about the pass to Edelman that got them in the red zone:
Brady: “We had two guys running opposite seams, Gronk and LaFell. Both safeties had vision on that. Julian’s route was supposed to be four yards. This was identical to a play we ran [against Seattle] in 2012. I hit Wes Welker. They played that same coverage against Welker in 2012, with a lineman dropping back on him in coverage in the short middle, and I hit him. I watched a lot of tape—our game with them from two years ago three times, Dallas this year multiple times, their championship game against Green Bay three times. I’m always trying to match the perfect amount of physical preparation with the right mental preparation. And I’m 37, I’ve got to get a lot of rest. I am a person that relies on my sleep. Anyway, that is what makes my relationship with Josh so special, because I feel at this point we’ve been together so long and we know each other so well and we’re so synchronized. This game, awesome. This play was an example of that. He knew it would work. He knew Julian would be there for me, and he was. Watching that tape, I saw it from a couple of years ago—and Josh saw it too.”
Talking about the TD pass to Amendola:
Brady: “There’s a mental part to a football throw and a physical part. The mental part is being decisive. Every throw is risk-reward. When you’ve played for 15 years, you have what I call ‘no-fear throws.’ Josh calls them that too. You’re confident, you know you’ve got it, and you just rip it. Some other throws, just before you let the ball go, you’re still not quite convinced that’s what you want to do. It comes right off your last fingertip, and you’re just not convinced. I admire Andrew Luck; he is so decisive for a guy who is so young. Aaron Rodgers, same thing. But this throw, the last thing I wanted to do was throw it to the other guy. Just as I let it go, I caught a glimpse of the DB [Simon]. He’s looking at me, I’m looking at him, as I let it go, it was a mental mistake, I got indecisive. My fault. I have had so many plays where I have made bad plays and I say, ‘I ain’t never doing that again.’ Josh has done such a good job trying to break down the mental blocks. Some of those decisions go right up to the time before the ball leaves your fingertips. On that one, it was, like, yes yes yes, NO! On my two interceptions in the game, the first one I should have called time because I just didn’t like what I saw, and then it was too late when I made the throw. Dumb throw. The second one, Bobby Wagner made a phenomenal play. He read my eyes. He got me. If I ever play those guys again, I will not lead Bobby Wagner anywhere with my eyes.”
McDaniels: “Tom learns from everything, and he doesn’t let it bother him. What happened next was Tom took advantage of Earl [Thomas] not being quite as aggressive as he could have been. And Danny Amendola played the back of the end zone perfectly. Tommy knows, in the tight red area, you always have to err away from the defender.”
On the game winning drive:
Brady: “So K.J. Wright walks up to Gronk. We know it’s man. Same coverage Wright had on the touchdown pass to Gronk earlier. So if you’re K.J. Wright, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t want to get beat on a TD pass again,’ and he plays him high. Gronk sells the go route, and runs the stop route. Gronk knew it. Later, he told me, ‘As soon as the ball was snapped, I knew you were throwing it to me.’ Gronk’s a tough matchup. I’ve seen it for a long time. You put two guys on him, we got three wideouts single-covered. We’ll win those, somewhere. Big fast, unbelievable hands. He’s got vacuum hands.”
Brady: “After the last drive, I went to the sidelines and told Josh, ‘Josh, come back to that call. Please come back to that call.’ I knew even before the call came in what it was going to be. I knew how it was going to play out. Earl in same place. Simon in same spot. Only this time, they ended up blitzing, really a max blitz, creating one-on-one with Jules. He ran a great route. It’s a tough route to cover. The cornerback has no help. Looks like a slant. How do you not respect the coverage on the slant?’’
The rest is history as they say. The Seahawks march down the field only to be picked off by the real MVP Malcolm Butler at the 1-yard line.