Tom Brady returned to action on Aug. 16 with the New England Patriots holding their breath. After Brady scared all of New England earlier in the week with a knee injury, it seemed ill advised to make him go all out in a mere preseason game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But as per usual in this trying time for the Patriots, Brady is the one figure left who’s still above it all.
After going 11-for-12 with a touchdown in the Patriots’ 25-21 win over the Buccaneers, any concerns about Brady’s health washed away. In fact, he completed his first 11 passes before his last one finally fell incomplete. Complete with his two touchdown performance against the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 9, Brady has been virtually perfect this preseason.
Nothing about the rest of the Patriots has been perfect in 2013, from the Aaron Hernandez murder charge to Wes Welker leaving for the Denver Broncos. As such, New England has extra reason to fear that it will fall apart without Brady around. Although he hasn’t won a Super Bowl in eight years and has had several tough playoff losses since 2005, he is still regarded as the Patriots’ best hope for a fourth title.
Not having Welker, Hernandez or any of his old top receivers hasn’t hurt Brady in the preseason. He has even found a new favorite target in Danny Amendola, who caught six passes for 71 yards and Brady’s only touchdown.
Brady was so efficient, it balanced out Tim Tebow’s 1-for-7 performance for -1 yard, and how the Buccaneers nearly rallied for the win in the meantime. While Brady can paper over the Patriots’ rebuilding receiving core, he can’t entirely cover for a defense that was carved up by Joe Flacco in last year’s AFC title game.
For a few brief hours this week, the Patriots had to think of life without Brady to cover up anything. But for about an hour on Aug. 16, all of New England’s fears vanished, which has been a rare thing in 2013.