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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Super Bowl 2021: Tom Brady the G.O.A.T. just keeps getting better, if that's possible

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Super Bowl LV against Kansas City Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla.  Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

He’s 43 years old, has won more championships than any other quarterback in NFL history — has won more Super Bowl games than any team in NFL history — owns just about every meaningful record there is, and now this:

Tom Brady’s two-decades- long ownership of the NFL continued with yet another magical run to a Super Bowl championship, this time against the youngster who seemed poised to inherit the mantle as the game’s greatest quarterback and produce a Brady-like run of his own.

That time will have to wait for Patrick Mahomes, if it happens at all. Brady has added yet another championship to his legendary career, surpassing even the great Michael Jordan with his seventh title. It was the fifth Super Bowl MVP for the G.O.A.T., who dominated defending champion Kansas City, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV.

The greatest ever just keeps getting better, if that’s even possible.

There have been statistically gaudier nights than this in the Super Bowl era, but Brady’s methodical performance was plenty good enough. He went 21-for-29 for 201 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

There were two scoring passes to longtime Patriots teammate Rob Gronkowski, the fun-loving tight end who came out of retirement this season, and another to Antonio Brown, who played one game with the 2019 Patriots before being released for a series of off-field issues.

"Big-time players making big-time plays," Brady said of Gronkowski and Brown. "Just love what they added to the team. Gronk’s an unbelievable player, teammate, talent. AB has done everything the right way. Proud of him."

It never gets old for Brady, does it? He already has outlasted so many of his rivals — from Peyton and Eli Manning to Philip Rivers and Kurt Warner to Brett Favre and soon-to-be-retired Drew Brees. And yet he sees no reason to think it will end anytime soon.

When asked by CBS announcer Jim Nantz during the postgame ceremony about whether he’ll be back for the 2021 season, Brady replied, "Yeah, we’re coming back."

Was there ever a doubt?

None.

"I think I’ll know when it’s time [to retire]," he said a few days before the game. "I don’t know when that time will come, but I think I’ll know, and I’ll understand that I gave everything I could to get to this game. You put a lot into it. I don’t think I could ever go at this half-assed. I have to put everything into it."

He’ll know that time has arrived when he doesn’t "feel like I can commit to the team in a way that the team needs me. Then I think that’s probably time to walk away."

But that time is not now. Not after another magnificent run to the championship, maybe his most impressive ever, given the circumstances. He left the only NFL team and the only NFL coach he’d ever known for a chance to dictate a future on his own terms. And just as he’d done so often with the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick, he performed so brilliantly and lifted everyone else around him.

And lifted another Vince Lombardi Trophy aloft. A seventh . . . and counting.

Yes, there were some bumps along the way — up to and including the time he lost track of downs in a midseason loss to the Bears. But Brady’s Bucs were unbeaten after their bye week and then won three road playoff games to earn the right to play the biggest home game of the season — at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium in Super Bowl LV.

So much history along the way, so why not add one more by becoming the first quarterback to play in his home stadium in a Super Bowl?

He made the most of it with an error-free game and complemented an extraordinary effort by a Bucs defense led by former Jets coach Todd Bowles, who called a positively brilliant game to contain Mahomes & Co.

While Kansas City imploded with a series of mistakes – including eight penalties for 95 yards in the first half alone – Brady led the Tampa Bay defense on three first-half touchdown drives to set the stage for a convincing victory.

He hit Gronkowski on a tight end screen for the Bucs' first touchdown, found the big guy again on a 17-yard strike in the end zone to make it 14-3 and then hit Brown on a slant route from a yard out to make it 21-6.

Mahomes has been such a magnificent comeback quarterback in his time with Kansas City, but he simply didn’t have it this time, in large part because of the relentless pressure applied by Bowles’ Bucs defense.

Brady conquered Mahomes. And Aaron Rodgers before that. And Brees before that. Just as he had done so often in New England, Brady came up with the big play when he had to and let the other team make mistakes. And on this night, Kansas City made plenty of them.

Brady made none. Zero. Not one misstep to cost his team.

The most special win of all?

"I think they’re all special," he said. "Just proud of all the guys, proud of all the coaches. We’ve been grinding pretty hard, so I haven’t had a lot of time to think about things like [legacy]. I’m blessed, grateful for my teammates. It’s been a great year."

Brady easily could walk off into his NFL sunset, secure in the knowledge that he has produced the greatest career in pro football history, a career that likely will never be equaled. But as is the case with all great champions who become addicted to winning, the lure of competition will keep calling.

Now that he has another championship, he’ll do as he has done since he won his first title 19 years ago.

He’ll come back and try to win another one.

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