x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Can't get better than Tom Brady

The New England Patriots heart-throb is the king of the quarterbacks and is separating himself from rival for the crown Peyton Manning.

Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, has sailed through his last six games without an interception. Brian Snyder / Reuters
Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, has sailed through his last six games without an interception. Brian Snyder / Reuters

Over the course of several seasons, they have been two of a kind. In the quarterback hierarchy, a pair of stars stand at the pinnacle, with everyone else somewhere down below. The only issue has been, who is No 1: Peyton Manning or Tom Brady?

Like no other players, their familiarity with the public extends well beyond football circles. (More than Terrell Owens, as much as he tries.) You cannot watch television without seeing the goofball Manning on a commercial. You cannot leaf through a magazine or tabloid without spotting the heart-throb Brady, often with his supermodel spouse, Gisele Bundchen.

Their careers have followed parallel paths, and they are linked in complaints about officials protecting quarterbacks from hits. No need to mention their names.

"The league has their favourites, one being in Indy and one being with that other team up north," Terrell Suggs, the Baltimore linebacker, said. "Besides those two, everybody is fair game."

In recent weeks, their paths diverged. Dramatically.

New England have scored at a 40-point clip over their last four games, all wins, accentuated by Monday's 45-3 gutting of the Jets. Brady has sailed through six games without an interception and has four all season. He earned the latest AFC Player of the Week, succeeding himself.

"He's the best," said Bill Belichick, the Patriots coach, not one inclined to dispense such praise. "You can't get better than that. He's totally about the team."

The Indianapolis Colts, by contrast, are mired in a 2-4 slump, and the blood is on Manning's hands. Until Thursday's rebound performance at Tennessee, he had been intercepted 11 times in three games. His errant throw last Sunday in overtime gift-wrapped a Dallas victory.

Manning, no less of a team guy than Brady, turned the Cowboys' post-game interview into a confessional.

"I've got to make better decisions and better reads," he said. "The most important thing about every play is that you possess the ball at the end of the play. That is rule No 1 for a quarterback, and I am not doing a good enough job of that."

Manning's supporters point to a depleted Colts arsenal. Key performers such as Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez and Joseph Addai have been hurt, and the blockers in front of Manning have been battered, as well.

Yet the Brady bunch is not exactly bound for the Hall of Fame. Wes Welker, the pint-sized target, stands out, barely, among Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Woodhead and the recycled Deion Branch.

After all these years, there is separation between the two. While the guy in Indy plays like a mortal, the one up north is otherworldly.