Is Tom Brady the greatest quarterback ever? Maybe.

After last night, he’s certainly got a case.

Other than tying Joe Montana (and Terry Bradshaw) with his fourth Super Bowl ring, Brady evened things up even more with his third Super Bowl MVP Award. Not to mention, he broke Montana’s long-standing record for the most touchdown passes in the “big game.” 

Nobody has won more playoff games than Tom Brady. Nobody has thrown for as many yards in the playoffs as Tom Brady. And nobody has thrown for as many touchdowns in the playoffs as Tom Brady.

So yeah, he’s got a pretty strong case.

But for me, it’s hard to compare Brady to Joe Montana because I never got to watch the latter play, and the game has changed a great deal since Montana hung them up. Growing up as a 90’s kid, we’ve been part of a different quarterback debate.

Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning.

The two have gone at it for the better part of 13 seasons, highlighted by a plethora of head-to-head meetings in the regular season and post-season.

The narrative has always been pretty similar: Brady has the rings and Manning has the stats, but they’re both all-time greats. 

Now that Brady has quadrupled Manning’s ring total, that debate we’ve spent hours listening to is finally over. 

Tom Brady might not have quite passed Montana (yet), but now we know that he’s absolutely better than Peyton Manning.

More than anything, Brady’s pronounced edge over the shoo-in Hall-of-Famer (Manning) brings clarity and perspective to just how special of a career its been for number 12.

It first hit me a little before the game, when I was thinking about Seattle’s utter destruction of the Broncos just one year before – wondering if Brady and the Patriots were in for the same.

But of course, Tom Brady wouldn’t let that be the case. And he certainly wasn’t going to have a repeat of Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants.

Tom was indeed Tom yesterday, and not only did he avoid a Legion of Boom domination – he beat them. Brady beat the same defense that terrorized Manning a year ago, and fittingly broke Peyton’s Super Bowl completions record on the way.

Despite two costly interceptions, Brady was at his machine-like best for most of the game – including a ridiculous 13 for 15 in the 4th quarter. Standing tall in the pocket and firing quick release lasers all-over-the-place, the 37 year-old Brady looked a lot like the 30 year-old version.

Instead of watching the cerebral and happy feet Manning be harassed by Seattle, we saw the textbook pocket passer sit back and go to work.

However old he is, Brady hasn’t lost the “He won’t fuck it up” vibe about him.

With Manning, it’s more like “Yeah he lost, but it’s still Peyton. It won’t tarnish his legacy.” And nothing will ever tarnish that legacy.

But when it comes to winning, nobody does it like Tom Brady (that I’ve ever seen). That was perfectly captured by somebody with a great vantage point of Brady in an excellent piece this morning by Grantland’s Robert Mays:

“For him to do that — 8-for-8 on the final drive, right? — that’s as big as a moment gets,” Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “Obviously, he lives for that shit.”

Is Tom Brady the greatest quarterback of all time? Maybe.

Is he better than Joe Montana? Maybe.

I don’t think it’s time for that talk yet, especially since Brady said he’s still got plenty of football left.

But now, at least we know one thing for sure: Tom Brady is definitely better than Peyton Manning. 

 (Photo courtesy of Keith Allison)