ARIZONA (Reuters) - Through his childhood, Tom Brady considered Joe Montana his idol, and on Monday morning (Singapore time) he equalled the Hall of Fame quarterback with four Super Bowl wins to cement his legacy as one of the best to play the game.
The 37-year-old quarterback set a Super Bowl record with 37 pass completions to go along with four touchdown passes, but it was the poise he exhibited with the game on the line that truly showed his brilliance.
Trailing by three points with under seven minutes to play, Brady completed all eight pass attempts as he led the Patriots 64 yards in 10 plays, capped by a three-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman.
"He's the best and showed it again tonight," said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. "He never got disappointed or discouraged when we had a couple of turnovers in the course of the game. He just kept fighting and demonstrated a lot of confidence at halftime. I think our players fed off of that."
By winning his first Super Bowl in 10 years, Brady further solidified his status as a sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Fame player when he becomes eligible for induction. Few could have predicted the success he would achieve when the Patriots selected him in the sixth round, 199th overall, of the 2000 NFL Draft.
Brady is fifth all-time in career passing touchdowns with 392 and fifth all-time with 53,258 passing yards. The players he trails in each category - Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees - have nowhere near the postseason success.
"Tom's the best ever," said Edelman. "I'm a big Joe Montana fan. I love him to death. I thought he was the best at everything. He won four, he's undefeated in four, but they didn't have a salary cap back then.
"Tom came out here, he's been to six Super Bowls. He's won four with the salary cap. It's hard to argue against that."
Brady also equalled former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Montana by being named the Super Bowl most valuable player for a third time but he was uncomfortable discussing his legacy.
"I haven't thought about that ... I never put myself in those discussions," said Brady. "That's not how I think. There's so many great players that have been on so many great teams and we've had some great teams that haven't won it and I think you've just got to enjoy the moment."