FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Shortly after New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made like Doug Flutie midway through the third quarter Saturday, circling back in the pocket to keep the play alive before finding receiver Julian Edelman down the field for a 28-yard gain, the home fans began to cheer “MVP! MVP! MVP!”
He was on the bench by the end of the third quarter, giving way to backup Jimmy Garoppolo, which was the perfect scenario in a week in which Brady didn’t practice much because of a thigh injury. Brady's final stat line: 17-of-27 for 214 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
On the season, Brady is now 266-of-399 with 25 touchdowns and two interceptions, and the Patriots are 10-1 in games he's played.
Brady will have a chance to add on to those numbers next week on the road at Miami, a game that still has meaning for the Patriots in terms of earning the AFC's No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
As for the MVP, if not Brady, then whom?
Quarterbacks Matt Ryan (Atlanta), Derek Carr (Oakland), Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay), Dak Prescott (Dallas) and Matthew Stafford (Detroit), as well as running back Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas), have been in the discussion in recent weeks.
One factor that some believe works against Brady is that he missed the first four games of the season, when the Patriots still went 3-1. Add in the possibility that he doesn’t play in the season finale, and is an 11-game sample size enough to award a player MVP?
There will be no such argument about that in New England.
"Without a doubt he should be in the race, and to me I think he is the MVP," Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount said. "That's my quarterback, and I'm playing with the greatest quarterback of all time. Even though he missed games, he's the best quarterback in the league, easily, hands down."
Of the many impressive aspects of Brady’s season to date is that he’s thrown just two interceptions, which coupled with the work of backups Garoppolo (0 INTs) and Jacoby Brissett (0 INTs) in Weeks 1-4, has the team on the brink of smashing the NFL record for fewest interceptions in a season (five, shared by six different teams).
Furthermore for Brady, his 18-yard touchdown strike to tight end Matt Lengel (raise your hand if you asked "who's that?") against the Jets marked the 64th different player he's connected with for a touchdown in his career, which is the second-highest mark in NFL history behind Vinny Testaverde’s 70.
So could a third NFL MVP award (2007, 2010) be far behind?
Brady took a decisive step in that direction against the Jets.