TOM Brady didn’t have to beat Aaron Rodgers in only their second head-to-head matchup to prove he’s the best quarterback of all time.
The GOAT did it, anyway.
Brady threw for 294 yards and one touchdown to lead the New England Patriots to a 31-17 victory over Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night.
Rodgers had 259 yards passing and two TDs.
It wasn’t a vintage performance for either quarterback. Brady tossed six straight incomplete passes at one point, and he couldn’t get the Patriots in the end zone on four tries from the 1 with the score tied in the third quarter.
Still, he posted a passer rating of 99.0 on a night when he didn’t have star tight end Rob Gronkowski and leading rusher Sony Michel.
The game was billed as the most talented QB vs. the most accomplished QB.
Some considered that statement a slight against Brady. It’s not.
Rodgers is immensely gifted with a strong, accurate arm and scrambling ability. He makes plays with his legs that Brady can’t. He makes throws few players ever could make, whether he’s on the run or if he’s flat-footed, falling down, throwing across his body or heaving desperation passes into the end zone.
Brady has a different style. He’s a drop-back passer with underrated pocket mobility, perfect mechanics and he simply outsmarts everyone else on the field.
He fooled a pair of defenders with his eyes by looking as if he was throwing a screen pass and instead fired deep for a 55-yard TD pass to Josh Gordon to seal the win.
But John Elway and Steve Young also belong in the “most talented” conversation, so it’s not even a slam dunk the title belongs to Rodgers.
Michael Vick wasn’t nearly as well-rounded but he could throw a 70-yard touchdown pass with a simple flick of his left wrist or he could sprint 70 yards for a score at any point in a game.
He has a case for the “most talented” debate if it’s based purely on physical skills. It won’t be long before Patrick Mahomes has to be considered, too.
However, the “greatest of all time” argument ended when Brady rallied the Patriots from a 28-3 third-quarter deficit against the Falcons to win his fifth Super Bowl title on February 5, 2017.
“He’s got five championships,” Rodgers said earlier in the week when asked the GOAT question. “I think that ends most discussions.”
Rodgers is one of the best to play the game and he may be the “most talented,” but he doesn’t belong in the “greatest of all time” conversation.
It’s Brady. Then Joe Montana. Peyton Manning deserves a mention. So does Drew Brees.
Brady has eight Super Bowl appearances. He won his third regular season MVP award last year at age 40 and he has four Super Bowl MVP awards in his trophy case. He’s still at the top of his game at 41, seven years older than Rodgers.
Over 19 seasons, Brady has set numerous records and he notched another milestone against the Packers when he surpassed Manning for the most combination passing, rushing and receiving yards in the regular-season and playoffs.
So while the Sunday Night Football crew enjoyed hyping the matchup and even got Michael Jordan involved by having the six-time NBA champion record a promo saying “the best way to settle this debate is to play it out head-to-head,” Brady already earned the title way before helping New England (7-2) to its sixth straight win.
Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time and he’s still proving it every week.
NFL FREAK BEST IN 68 YEARS
With almost every flick of his right wrist, the legend of Patrick Mahomes grows.
And he’s just beginning.
Only 10 games into his NFL career, Kansas City’s young quarterback is doing things that have never been done before.
Mahomes passed for 375 yards, threw three touchdown passes and continued the best start by a QB in 68 years as Kansas City’s impossible-to-handle offence kept rolling with a 37-21 win on Sunday over the Cleveland Browns, who played their first game since coach Hue Jackson’s firing.
Kareem Hunt, who also has Cleveland connections, had two scoring runs and one receiving for the Chiefs (8-1). The side came in averaging 36.3 points with an offence overloaded with weapons for Mahomes.
The 23-year-old used all of them in winning his first pro matchup against Baker Mayfield and the Browns (2-6-1).
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Mahomes, who was hurt by a couple drops.
“It makes my job a lot easier knowing that I can trust these guys are going to be in the right spot. They’re taking care of their business. They’re running the routes and making route adjustments on the fly just because they’ve looked at the film and know how to do those things.”
Mahomes and Mayfield didn’t match their epic college meeting in 2016, when they combined for more than 1,700 yards in offence.
But the Chiefs put on another impressive offensive show with 499 total yards, averaging 8.6 per snap.
In his second season, Mahomes, who made just one start as a rookie, already has 29 touchdown passes and 3,185 yards, the most by any QB through 10 games since 1950. He has passed for at least 300 yards in eight straight games.
“It’s a weird deal — he just goes out there and plays,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He works hard. He loves doing it. He just goes about his business the way that you’re supposed to do it.”
Cleveland lost its fourth straight, but it looked better under interim coach Gregg Williams than it did with Jackson, fired on Monday after going 3-36-1 in two-plus seasons.
Mayfield threw two TD passes to Duke Johnson and finished 29 of 42 for 297 yards with one interception.
SAINTS PHONE HOME TO END RAMS’ STREAK
Michael Thomas caught a late 72-yard touchdown reception and then celebrated with a mobile phone in a throwback to another famous New Orleans play, and the streaking Saints handed the Los Angeles Rams their first loss of the season with a 45-35 win on Sunday.
Drew Brees passed for 346 yards and four touchdowns in New Orleans’ seventh straight win, and Thomas finished with a club-record 211 yards receiving.
But what happened after their last connection of the day really stole the show in a wild shootout between two of the NFL’s best offences.
Thomas’ long TD came on a pivotal third-down play with about four minutes to go, when the Rams seemed to expect the Saints to run a play closer to the first-down marker.
Thomas ran free behind Marcus Peters, caught Brees’ long throw virtually in stride and ran straight to the goalpost, where he got out an old-school flip phone — reminiscent of Joe Horn’s Sunday night TD celebration in 2003.
Thomas, who caught 12 passes, eclipsed Wes Chandler’s club record of 205 yards receiving against Atlanta in 1979.
New Orleans running back Alvin Kamara scored three times, twice on runs and once on a 16-yard catch-and-run — all in the first half.
The Rams (8-1) very nearly pulled off an extraordinary comeback in the Superdome, where the crowd was revved up after New Orleans (7-1) raced to a three-touchdown lead late in the first half.
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