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Brady legend, trophy case keep growing


HOUSTON - Tom Brady will never be remembered as the hottest quarterback in the regular season, only the coolest in the playoffs.

Brady once again cemented his image as one of the game's clutch quarterbacks, marching the New England Patriots into range for the deciding 41-yard field goal in last night's 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl.

It represented the fourth game-winning drive in six playoff games for Brady, who was named the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player for the second time in three years.

"Tom is a winner," coach Bill Belichick said of Brady, who is 6-0 in the postseason. "That's the job of a quarterback. And Tom does that as well as anybody."

With the score tied at 29, Brady delivered a drive reminiscent of his methodical series from two Super Bowls ago.

He completed his last four passes succinctly for 47 yards in the final minute of the game. Keeping a steely look in the face of pressure, Brady calmly moved around the pocket to connect on passes of 13, 13, 4 and 17 yards.

Unlike New England's last Super Bowl victory, this one came with more adversity.

Brady made his worst decision of the title game when he rushed a throw into the end zone and was intercepted by Reggie Howard. After Carolina converted that turnover into a 22-21 lead, Brady went to work, finishing 10-for-13 with a touchdown in thrilling fashion.

"We've done it before," Brady said. "You just got to keep your poise."

Said Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis: "Who would you rather have running the two-minute drive in today's game of football than Tom Brady? I'd rather have Tom Brady 10 out of 10 times.

"But I'm asking you, who would you rather have?"

How good has Brady been in Super Bowls? Consider that he completed 16 of 25 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown en route to MVP honors against the Rams.

But that was considered a performance where he did his best to stay out of the New England defense's way, staying mistake-free and making little plays to keep the scales tipped in the Patriots' favor.

This time around, he only upgraded his importance, becoming the game-winning factor when New England needed one most.

By being named MVP, Brady becomes the fourth player in the 38-year history of the game to win the award multiple times. Brady finished 32-for-48 for 354 yards and three touchdowns.

"He's certainly climbing up the ladder as a productive quarterback in the NFL," Belichick said. "Tom is going to be mentioned with the better quarterbacks of today and in the past. You can't deny his production."

Brady is the ninth quarterback to win more than one Super Bowl, joining Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, John Elway, Roger Staubach, Bob Griese, Jim Plunkett and Bart Starr.

He also put himself in a class by himself, becoming the youngest two-time champion at age 26.

"I can't put this in perspective," Brady said. "I don't know how it feels. You work so hard to get here so there's a lot of things going through my mind."

When asked if the comparison to his childhood idol Montana is more relevant with another ring, Brady said, "He's a benchmark for a quarterback in how he thrives in clutch situations. There's no way I'm close to that. Hopefully, one day I'll be at that level. But not right now."

The Orlando Sentinel contributed to this article.

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