He plays like garbàge (sounds nicer when you add the French accent) for most of the first half, thereby turning his right elbow into the most talked-about body part on the earth (just ahead of Gene Steratore's bloody nose). Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he hits Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown before halftime and goes on to look like Tom Brady for the remainder of the evening with a pair of second-half touchdown passes as the Patriots would end up winning by 21 points.
Then, as the final seconds ticked off the clock, Brady added to the mystique by chumming it up with Antonio Cromartie, a guy who's gone out of his way to let everyone know that he hates Brady and thinks the quarterback is an [expletive] hole.
I don't know if Brady drinks Dos Equis, but he's infinitely more interesting than some guy with a gray beard.
Let's get into plenty more about Brady, plus all the other leftover thoughts from the Patriots' 37-16 victory.
–I'll get the proverbial turd in the proverbial punch bowl out of the way first. The big story on Monday and beyond will be about the defensive efforts of the Patriots, and rightfully so. Five sacks and a pick-six are nothing to scoff at.
However, I told you a couple of weeks ago that the Patriots' defense was bound to improve, if only by default. As it is, they still rank 32nd in yards allowed per game (412) and pass yards allowed per game (308.9). The good sign is that they're 15th in points allowed per game (22.2), which is the only stat that really matters.
–Still, despite all the good feelings about the defense, they won't change the fact that it employs people named Phillip Adams, Antwaun Molden, James Ihedigbo, Jeff Tarpinian and Tracy White.
–Tarpinian and Sterling Moore getting only a still photo and not the cool video introductions for Sunday Night Football will go down as the most hilarious moment of the 2011 season. Mark it down.
–There was a point, after Devin McCourty left the game after he was the recipient of some friendly fire, when Kyle Arrington was the best player in the Patriots' secondary. I asked Patriots fans on Twitter if they were hyperventilating yet, and I got no response. That can only mean the answer was a resounding "Yes!"
–I won't pretend that Arrington didn't have a nice pass breakup in the end zone though. It's encouraging to see a defender wearing a Patriots jersey and helmet to actually know where the ball is and make a play.
—Andre Carter is a man. For real. If the football world didn't know who he was before he recorded 4.5 sacks Sunday night, it does now.
—Chad Ochocinco can't take a step forward without taking two steps backward, literally, as evidenced by his undressing of Cromartie followed by his promptly stepping out of bounds. Maybe all that eye black had him off his game a bit.
–It's precisely that one step forward, two steps back routine that had me fully expecting Mr. Cinco to fumble after the 53-yard catch-and-run late in the first quarter. Joke's on me. Al Michaels said it on the broadcast, thereby stealing my thunder, but those 53 yards were more than Ochocinco had gained in any full game this whole season.
–I'm not one of those people who thinks Darrelle Revis is overrated. He's not. But why can't commentators call him out for making mistakes? Cris Collinsworth said Revis got stuck communicating with the defense and therefore Ochocinco was able to get wide open. Collinsworth left out the little detail where Revis guessed wrong and allowed Ochocinco to get 10 yards past him.
I guess I shouldn't expect anyone to criticize the man, though. I saw what happened to Mike Francesa.
–When Brady missed Danny Woodhead wide open at the front corner of the end zone, I thought — along with the rest of the modern world — that something was seriously wrong with Brady's right elbow. Great quarterbacks don't just age 12 years in one offseason. I still think something's wrong.
–Of course, nobody was saying that in the second half, when Brady was on fire, but he's still not himself. I have no doubt.
–Did you know that Brady has the most passing yards ever through nine games, and Wes Welker became the fastest player in NFL history to record 500 receptions with one team?
–Everyone's trying to decide between Brady, Gronkowski or Carter as the player of the game, but I'm going with the unconventional pick of Stephen Gostkowski. Nailing that 50-yarder was tremendously important in the first quarter, and if he had anything short of a perfect night, the whole complexion of the football game would have changed. For example, had he missed the 50-yarder, the Jets would have had first-and-10 from their own 39-yard line in a 0-0 game. It's the little things, really.
–If Brian Waters' knee injury in the first half was more serious, then you might as well have canceled the rest of the season. That might seem like hyperbole, but that would put question marks at right tackle, right guard and center. Without Waters, Brady might not make it out alive.
–The AFC East isn't officially decided, but the Patriots' remaining opponents have a combined record of 21-43. Only the 5-4 Bills (Week 17) have a winning record. It'd be shocking if the Patriots finished any worse than 11-5, and it would be absoultely mind-blowing if the Jets win out and finish 12-4. Christmas Eve against the Dolphins looks like it'll be the famed "hat and T-shirt" game for the Patriots.
–Did you know that Plaxico Burress has a tattoo on his back that says "Everything happens for a reason"? If I were an NFL official, every time Plax looked at me with his Reche Caldwell Eyes of Disbelief, I'd kindly tell him that everything happens for a reason and he should get back in the huddle. That's only because I'm a jerk, though.
–What's the deal with Donald Trump rubbing elbows with Woody Johnson? That's the same D-Trump who hangs out with Bob Kraft at Gillette. You gotta pick your side here, The Donald. It's Pats-Jets. Can't play it both ways.
–I'm no advertising expert (I am on everything else, though), but I'm not sure the NFL crowd is exactly the ideal audience to market an LPGA watch to. Paula Creamer does seem like a nice young woman, but I'm not sure that watch would match my outfits.
–Have you noticed that whenever there's a safety in the NFL, there is at least one player who just has to raise his arms above his head and put his hands together, as if the referee might forget the signal? Well, when Brady was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, there was not one Jets player who made the safety call. Unofficially, that's the first time in the history of organized football.
–When you or I hear the word "safety," Zoltan Mesko hears the words "free kick!"
–Collinsworth could hardly contain himself after Revis proved he's a great tackler by wrapping up … Kevin Faulk? Collinsworth ought to save that praise for when Revis tackles someone who isn't a 35-year-old running back who's barely 5-foot-8.
–In other broadcast-related gaffes, Michaels said Nate Solder was "the injured Patriot" as NBC went to commercials, despite the visual we were all seeing of a Jets player down on the field. When NBC came back from commercials, Michaels said, "David Harris was the injured Jet." No big deal.
–I'm normally not a fan of Deion Branch's over-the-top touchdown dances, but if you're going to go out of your way to celebrate, you might as well mock Fireman Ed, who is just the worst. If I were a Jets fan, I would disown that guy.
—Rex Ryan generally gets his team to play, so he'll tell them they only lost because they called the timeout too early, they muffed a punt and booted the recovery and they missed a chip shot field goal. That's all well and good, but the problem is that that's the Jets.
–Do you think Rex regrets being in the media spotlight for his role as a Patriot fan in an Adam Sandler movie? Really doesn't seem all that funny now, does it ol' Rexy?
–Last point on Rex: What is he talking about saying the last time he "guaranteed" the Jets were out of the playoff race, they ended up making it. He didn't guarantee anything. He simply didn't understand that his team was not yet eliminated. His quote was, exactly, "We're obviously out of the playoffs, and that's unfortunate."
Years later, he's trying to play it off like he was just making a proclamation.
–Is NBC having an unspoken competition with FOX for dumbest "technological" feature during a game broadcast? After FOX turned baseball players into living, breathing X-rays in the World Series, NBC now wants to show us how different football looks if the field is black instead of green. To say it was completely life-changing would be a gross understatement.
–I know, somewhere in my mind, that the ridiculous touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski (during which Brady danced around the pocket, made a ham and cheese sandwich, pondered the meaning of life and then took off his shoe to remove a little pebble that was making him slightly uncomfortable) doesn't count, but as far as I'm concerned, it happened, and I saw it happen, so it's real.
–I busted out the stopwatch feature on my cell phone for that play, and Brady had the ball for 8.85 seconds before releasing the pass. That's a long time. Here's what it looked like from seats that probably cost more than my car.
–I don't find humor in players getting hurt, ever, but, if quarterback-turned-receiver-turned-special teamer-turned-garbage-time-nickelback Julian Edelman's tackle of LaDainian Tomlinson keeps the Hall of Fame running back off the field for an extended period of time, well then that's just funny interesting.
–Is Bart Scott on the Jets? Just curious.
–After the game comfortably belonged to the Patriots, the NBC cameras caught some loser who was wearing a jet plane on his head. That loser decided to pantomime a fatal, self-inflicted gunshot wound. This Jets fan was clearly upset with the way the game was playing out before him, which was understandable, but suicide is nothing to joke about. Plus, you should have been just as disappointed the very second you walked out your front door with that outfit on.
Photo via Twitter/seth_rosenthal