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With little help, Brady is league's MVP

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Ron Borges
Contributing writer

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Posted Dec. 28, 2011 @ 1:03 p.m. ET
By Ron Borges

You hear some form of it so often that if you're not careful, the words become meaningless even though the deeds of the man they describe are far from it.

"(Tom) Brady started putting it on the money," Dolphins ILB Karlos Dansby said admiringly on Christmas Eve after Brady had rallied the Patriots from a 17-0 halftime deficit to a 27-24 victory that locked up a first-round AFC playoff bye and added further to a résumé that is already longer than Shaquille O'Neal's inseam.

"He played better and that made his team go. We had his number in the first half, but in the second half, he came out and made a lot of plays. He's a coach on the field.''

He's also a quarterback on a tear, even by his own Hall of Fame standards. Playing with both starting tackles out and soon after starting OLG Logan Mankins went out as well, Brady struggled for a time against the Dolphins because he was on the move or buried under an avalanche of sea green and white uniforms. But after halftime he was Brady once again, which meant the Dolphins were soon roasting on a spit.

Working out of the no-huddle offense he runs as well as anyone since Jim Kelly, Brady came back to complete 20-of-27 second-half passes for 217 yards. More importantly, he led five straight unanswered scoring drives that left the Dolphins with nowhere to go but home and chroniclers running out of superlatives to describe a season that may prove to be his best.

Considering that in 2007 he threw 50 TD passes and passed for 4,806 yards in leading the Patriots to a perfect 16-0 regular season, that would be saying something. But with one game to play, Brady stands only 103 yards from cracking the 5,000-yard passing mark for the first time and 188 yards from eclipsing Dan Marino's mark of 5,084 yards set in 1984 — something Drew Brees did in Week 16.

Personally, Brady is not about numbers unless you're counting his three Super Bowl rings, but he has them all the same, despite being burdened by a defense ranked last in the NFL since the third week of the year. The Patriots have overcome the problems that creates nearly every week because Brady has his offense averaging 31 points a game, nearly a 10-point differential that has allowed the defensively challenged Patriots to post a remarkable 12-3 record.

This would be considered astounding had Brady not been putting up similar numbers for so long one grows numb to opponents saying "When you've got Tom Brady...'' as a catchall for "How are you supposed to beat that guy?''

Few teams have, which is why the only numbers Brady cares about beyond the size of his ring collection read 123-35, a .780 regular-season winning percentage that is the best of any quarterback since the dawning of the Super Bowl era. Only five quarterbacks in history having won more regular-season games.

If he's not the Most Valuable Player in the league this season, nobody has been watching his defense — or him — play.

"Tom gets us in the right plays," TE Aaron Hernandez said. "He knows the right coverage. He puts us in the right routes, and we have a chance to be open."

When they do, as the Dolphins were reminded on Christmas Eve, their opponents have no chance at all.

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