It’s not often that a single play defines the entire season for a team in any sport. What’s even rarer is when that play occurs in the first quarter of the opening game.
But that’s exactly what happened Sunday in New England when QB Tom Brady took a nasty shot to his left knee from Chiefs S Bernad Pollard less than 10 minutes into the game. Brady screamed as he hit the turf, where he remained as trainers and coaches rushed to examined the injured superstar.
That agonizing howl of pain yelped simultaneously from Brady and the scores of Pats fans defined the entire 2008/2009 season for the Patriots: Done. Finished. Cooked.
Painfully, unequivocally, absolutely over.
Even though Brady’s pass resulted in a 28-yard connection to Randy Moss, the completion of the play eerily mirrored Brady’s future, and possibly the future of the Patriot’s 2008 season: Moss fumbled the ball as he went down to avoid contact, and the Chiefs recovered.
Millions of Patriots fans around the world waited in dire anticipation as Brady lay on the field, hoping and praying to see him spring back to his feet, the seemingly gruesome hit just a minor nick. But no such luck. Brady was helped to his feet and even though he managed to leave the field under his own power, was clearly hobbling and struggling not to put much weight on the injured leg.
He would not return to the game. And, according to latest updates from the Patriots, will not return this season either. The injury requires surgery that will keep Brady on the Injured Reserve list indefinitely.
The Patriots were easy favorite picks to contend for the championship this year, building a strong resume over last season. They amassed an 18-1 record, marred only by a surprising upset in the Super Bowl. Brady threw a record 50 touchdown passes. Moss hauled in a record 23 touchdown catches.
But an ominous cloud hung low as training camps opened up this year. Brady was nursing a hurt foot, the same foot he was seen wearing a boot on after last year’s Super Bowl, and missed all of the team’s four preseason games (all losses, by the way). The injury was revealed to be a cracked bone the week before New England’s season opener, yet Brady was named the starting quarterback.
And to top it all off, for the first time in 57 games, coach Bill Bellicheck left Brady off of the injury list, despite the foot issue. Was this the straw that broke the camel’s back?
Something did, because Brady’s season is done, and so is his third-longest consecutive games streak of 128.
And so may be the Patriots season.
Fantasy Impact. Are you kidding me? Look at that picture above: Brady’s knee is totaled. I wouldn’t be surprised if all the major fantasy football websites crashed Sunday as hordes of mortified Brady owners ransacked the waiver wire to see which backup QBs were available.
Unless you were lucky enough to snag a decent backup, or your league is small enough that not all the second-tier starters were drafted, you have a rough season ahead of you. Pray your supporting cast can make up for the loss of the #1 QB in the league, or get ready to ransom your lineup for some points players.