Ali and Frazier. Chris and Martina. Bird and Magic.
Brady and Belichick.
This is getting fun from afar, isn’t it?
It’s easy to say what’s most fun, too. It’s not Tom Brady, at 43, winning in Tampa Bay, as Benjamin-Button-admirable as that is.
It’s Bill Belichick losing in New England. And losing. And losing yet again for a third straight Sunday.
The only missing element from the Patriots’ wonderful downfall is the TV networks’ shots of owner Bob Kraft. For two decades we were subjected to his high-fives. What, we’re not allowed to see him numb?
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but proof it burned in one keeps coming every Sunday for the Patriots. That March day Brady left town ended the dynasty. Brady’s replacement, Cam Newton, was benched in Sunday’s 33-6 loss to San Francisco.
That was the biggest margin in a home Patriots loss since Bill Belichick arrived in 2000. They have a three-game losing streak for the first time since 2002. Want some more feel-good news?
They won’t win a game the rest of the year.
I’m exaggerating. They play the New York Jets twice. So they’re bound to win one.
Hey, we kid because we finally can. There are years of pent-up lines and jealousy, but none tell the story like these lines:
Brady: 18 touchdowns, four interceptions.
Patriots quarterbacks: Three touchdowns, 11 interceptions.
That’s how it’s playing out this year. We tried to warn them, too, didn’t we? We kept warning them, too, all these years. Even as we aged and lost hair or hearing (better to ignore the bleating about, “The Patriots Way” and “Trust in Bill”), we told them what was coming.
Finally, we’re right. We told them to enjoy the fun while it lasted (and lasted). We warned them what happened when Dolphins legend Dan Marino left the huddle for good.
Pain. Misery. Lots of losing, firings and bad football. Twenty-two quarterbacks later, the Dolphins finally have found Marino’s replacement. Maybe. Possibly. Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t played a whole game yet, but that’s kind of hope necklace fans wear even before his first start next Sunday.
During the 49ers’ rout in New England, a Boston TV broadcaster, Mike Lynch, asked on Twitter: “When was the last time you saw a Patriots defense get run over so consistently?
Upton Bell answered: “Miami. 1971. I was the GM.”
It’s true. Bell was then the Patriots’ general manager. The Dolphins ran for 215 yards on them. These 49ers only ran for 197 Sunday. So see? It can get worse, Patriots fans.
“We were clearly outcoached, outplayed — just out-everything,” Belichick said. “We’re just not performing at a good level right now in any area. So that’s across the board.”
That quote’s from the playbook of Cam Cameron, Joe Philbin and Adam Gase. Suddenly, Don Shula’s record 347 wins isn’t so certain to fall, considering Belichick’s been stuck at 306 for a month.
Brady, meanwhile, picked his next team well. Tampa Bay has the league’s best defense. It has some nice offensive pieces. One of his four touchdown passes Sunday was thrown to another Patriots has-been, Rob Gronkowski. (If Brady and Gronk win again, do Patriots fans still win?)
Brady moved ahead of Drew Brees for the most touchdown passes in NFL history in a 45-20 win against Las Vegas. He’s now getting Antonio Brown now to either make or ruin the Tampa Bay season.
“I really don’t think there’s a limit to what we can do offensively,” Tampa Bay receiver Chris Godwin said.
The point here isn’t Brady invented Belichick. You need both a great quarterback and a great coach/general manager to win. Look at the Hall of Fame. You rarely find a quarterback in Canton without a coach there. And vice versa.
That’s the lesson for everyone thinking Belichick could keep on winning like he was with Brady. The only way to do that was to get the next Brady. So far, three Patriots quarterbacks have played this year: Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Bobby Hoyer. Only 19 to go to catch the Dolphins.
The only way this would be more fun is if Brady played Belichick, like Tiger played Phil, like DiMaggio played Williams, like Russell played Chamberlain.
For years, Brady and Belichick won like the morning sun in the east. But now the divorce is final. After New England beat the Dolphins in its opener and Brady lost his Tampa Bay opener, the score in Boston was posted like hometown-favorite Belichick 1, Brady 0.
Now the world has flipped.
Brady 5, Belichick 2.
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