Over the last day and a half, Tim Tebows received an unbelievable amount of attention for his performance in Denvers upset over the Steelers.
This is due in large part to the fact that Tim Tebow is Tim Tebow. Hes a guy so polarizing and popular that the NFL could choreograph a halftime show around him blowing his nose, and the footage would probably lead SportsCenter for three days. (On top of that, the snot would be extracted to help find a cure for acne, and the used-tissue would be sold on eBay for enough money to build churches along the entire Chilean seaboard.)
But another reason for all the attention is that the performance itself 316 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 125.6 rating was pretty amazing. Obviously, in comparison to the garbage with which Tebow typically fills the box score, but even in general, the performance was real. On Sunday, Tebow proved (again) that he belongs on the NFL stage. Hate him for all he is off the field, but you have to respect what he did on it. His 316 yards (albeit on only 10 completions) against the (albeit beat up) Steelers 'D', were the most Pittsburgh's given up since Tom Brady threw for 350 in Week 10 of last season.
On that note, I had an idea. Or more, I was curious: How did Tebows day in Denver compare to some of the best playoff performances of Bradys career?
The results were surprising.
As it turns out, in 19 career playoff games, Bradys thrown for more than 316 yards only twice. Hes topped Tebows 125.6 rating only twice. And while Bradys thrown at least two touchdowns in 10 of those 19 games, hes thrown more than two only three times. And on only five occasions has he thrown two or more TDs and complimented them with zero interceptions.
(From the It's Not Fair to Compare category: 1. Tebow ran for 50 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Brady's run for 77 yards and two touchdowns in his playoff career. 2. Tebow's 47.6 completion percentage against Pittsburgh would rank 20th behind all 19 of Brady's playoff starts and that includes one game played in a snow globe, another played in subzero temperatures and three in which the refs were paid off by Bill Polian)
Anyway, those two stats aside, it was still shocking to find that Tebow's day ranks among some of the best playoff performances of Brady's career. In fact, it makes no sense at all. What does this say about Tebow? About Brady? About the world as we know it?
Maybe that playoffs stats are overrated? Maybe that Brady's recent regular season explosiveness has clouded the fact that he's never been or needed to be an explosive, stat-driven playoff QB? (Or maybe those two questions answer each other?)
It's no secret that the Patriots have historically achieved the most when Brady's been at his worst. "Worst" is a relative term here, and of course there are other factors in play, but statistically, Bradys two worst seasons were 2001 and 2003, and 2004 wasnt far behind. However, they all resulted in a ring.
Some in the football world have used this information as a platform to suggest that the recent spike in Brady's statistics are a detriment to the Pats long term success. That it breeds style of football non-conducive to winning down the stretch. The argument isn't without its merits, but in general I disagree. While there's no denying that the Pats (or at least earlier versions) showed an ability to win without Brady racking up stats, I don't see how anyone can say that the Pats can't win on the strength of Brady's arm.
Why? Because if not for 15 different things that happened, independent of Brady, four years ago in Arizona, that whole argument would be moot. It's just not fair to say that the Pats can't win that way. But the same time, to say they haven't won under those conditions is absolutely true, and entirely unfortunate.
As far as I'm concerned, that's the major storyline surrounding Brady this postseason. While he's shown in the past that he can lead the Pats to the Promise Land without dropping big time stats, there's the perception that, with this team, racking up the yards is the only way he can lead them there. And for all Brady's accomplished over the last 11 years, consistent, big time playoffs statistics are not one of them. In that sense, he still has a lot to prove. And his ability to do so, will likely shape the narrative for the home stretch of his career.
Listen, I understand why Tim Tebow has gotten so much attention these last two days, and I understand why it will continue to trend that way all week, while one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time still in his prime lurks in the background; barely talked about and relatively unnoticed. After all, what more can anyone say about Tom Brady that hasn't been said already? We ran out of things to say about him five years ago.
With Tebow, it's like the sports world got its hands on the beta version of some new age technology. He's something we've never seem before, and still don't understand. We know there are flaws, but we can't decide whether, or how much, they're out-weighed by the unprecedented benefits. With every test-drive we find out more. We're obsessed with finding out more, and finally getting to the bottom of one of the most polarizing and complex sports debates in quite some time: Basically, how good is Tim Tebow?
On the other hand, we know how good Tom Brady is. There no mystery to anything he does. In many ways, he's a victim of his unparalleled success and consistency. He's the quirky painting you bought at a garage sale 10 years ago for 15 bucks, only to later find out it's actually an early Renaissance portrait with an estimated value of 15M. It's been hanging on the wall ever since. It's there every day. And as great and valuable and irreplaceable as it might be, it's only natural to get distracted.
Especially when a once in a generation piece of machinery like Tebow rolls into the forefront.
But while the rest of the country feasts on the overwhelming obsession with all things Tebow, here in New England, we'll remember that our own quarterback still has few questions to answer and doubters to disprove. And that if he performs at the level we all know he's capable of, it won't matter what Tim Tebow does.
The Broncos will be heading home.
In which case, maybe the NFL can squeeze a few minutes of Tebow blowing his nose into the halftime show?
The world's probably more interested in that that they are Madonna.