Brady bidding for 5th Super Bowl title

HOUSTON • Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will bid to write another gilded chapter in their 15-year golden era tomorrow by subduing the offensive juggernaut of the Atlanta Falcons to claim a fifth Super Bowl title.

More than 100 million households across the United States and millions more worldwide will tune in for the biggest sporting event in America, which could see Brady become the most decorated quarterback in National Football League (NFL) history.

The 39-year-old will become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowl crowns if he manages to guide the Patriots to victory over the Falcons before a 72,000-crowd at Houston's NRG Stadium.

A win would come 15 years after Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick's first triumph together in the NFL showpiece, against the St Louis Rams in 2002.

It would also represent a satisfying last laugh for Brady following his long-running battle with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Brady was forced to miss the first four games of the season after losing a legal battle against the NFL over the 2015 Deflategate scandal, which saw the Patriots star accused of cheating by attempting to alter the pressure of balls to his advantage during a key championship game.

It has led to the delicious prospect of Goodell having to possibly hand over the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the New England quarterback and his team-mates tomorrow.

Brady has been in good form, averaging just under 300 passing yards a game in the regular season and was magnificent in a 36-17 demolition of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the American Football Conference Championship game two weeks ago.

But even his statistics pale into comparison with his opposite number Matt Ryan, who has hardly put a foot wrong while leading the most potent offence in the league, averaging more than 365 yards a game in the post-season and just over 300 yards during the regular season.

Ryan, 31, reached the Super Bowl this season after four unsuccessful previous appearances in the play-offs, a record that led some critics to question whether he had the temperament for the big occasion.

There was not the slightest hint of nerves en route to Houston, though, when the Falcons crushed the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the Georgia Dome to reach the Super Bowl for only the second time in the team's history.

"This is exactly where we wanted to be. We've put in the work, put in the time. I think we'll all be ready to go and excited," said Ryan - nicknamed "Matty Ice" by his team-mates - this week.

Whether Belichick's Patriots are able to clip the Falcons' offensive wings may hold the key to the Super Bowl - and Brady's hopes of a place in history.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2017, with the headline 'Brady bidding for 5th Super Bowl title'. Print Edition | Subscribe