Patriots

Bedard’s Breakdown: Sunday showed us Patriots’ fortunes are tied to Brady’s tenuous health

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First off, if Tom Brady is unable to play because of injury for any reason, the 2018 Patriots are finished. We all know this.

Up until this season — heck, maybe even last week — you would be correct in saying Brady could fully function with just about any injury. His toughness is beyond reproach. Brady was terrific in the AFC championship game last season, despite playing with a freshly opened hole near his throwing thumb (seriously). Brady has played with more ailments than most of us have had jobs. And he's won, almost all the time.

But after what we witnessed in Sunday's stunning (and completely fluky) 34-33 loss to the Dolphins, it's fair to begin to wonder if, at 41, Brady can still overcome his physical maladies like he used to. Well, to be precise, certain kinds of injuries (if he had the same hand injury, he'd still play well).

With any quarterbacks, especially the older one, the red-light, warning area is when a player has an injury in the lower body they can't shake. When it comes to throwing the ball, everything starts with the lower body, especially when you no longer have your fastball and everything needs to be in sync to be at the top of your game.

Brady is obviously dealing with an injury in the lower body. What that is exactly, or where it is, is up for interpretation. Our Dr. Jessica Flynn thinks it's with the left knee; I see some evidence it's the right knee or both. Honestly, it comes and goes. When it's not an issue, Brady is the MVP Brady of last season. We saw it for 10 glorious minutes of game action against the Dolphins — 13:26 to 3:49 of the second quarter.

But we also saw the other side, when Brady is feeling the injuries. When that happened against the Dolphins, he was Mortal, Very Average Tom Brady. Actually, with the setting in Miami Gardens, you couldn't help but to recall another former aging gunslinger who wound up succumbing to his various lower-body injuries: Dan Marino.

Brady isn't close to that point yet, but the overall point remains: I'm not sure these Patriots can get to the Super Bowl if Brady continues to deal with a lower body injury. It's clearly affecting his ability to be efficient. Sunday's loss was an example of that.

If Brady is Brady in the final 33 minutes of the game, the Patriots win that game going away. And we're not talking about that ridiculous final play or Stephen Gostkowski.

He was not, and the Patriots lost.

Let's go over the good, and the bad, from that game and what it all might mean: