- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2004

After leading New England to a second Super Bowl title in three years, Tom Brady has been compared to Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and John Elway for his cool under fire. However, Brady already has surpassed those two by winning his first six career playoff games. That puts Brady in select company.

The only quarterback to match Brady’s hot start was Troy Aikman. That’s because Steve Beuerlein started Dallas’ two playoff games in 1991 before Aikman took over for a seven-game postseason winning streak that encompassed Super Bowl triumphs in 1992 and 1993 and ended with a loss to San Francisco in the 1994 NFC Championship game.

The Aikman comparison bodes well for the 26-year-old Brady. Aikman won a third Super Bowl two years after his second and two months after his 29th birthday.

And Aikman — like Brady now — then ranked among America’s most eligible bachelors. However, Aikman won only one more playoff game after that third title before a concussion ended his career at 33, hastening his marriage and his retirement to become a game analyst for Fox.

And while Aikman returned a storied franchise to glory, the Patriots’ six playoff victories in three years with Brady equals their total during their first 41 seasons.

Sunday’s 32-29 victory over Carolina improved New England coach Bill Belichick to 7-1 in postseason, a winning percentage nearing that of the gold standard, Vince Lombardi’s 9-1. The only active coaches with more playoff victories than Belichick are Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs (16), Bill Parcells (11) and Mike Holmgren (nine). And the only coaches with more Super Bowl titles than the 51-year-old Belichick’s two are Hall of Famers Chuck Noll (four), Bill Walsh (three) and Gibbs (three).

While the Patriots celebrate again, the Kansas City Chiefs, the other team that pushed for expanding the playoffs at last spring’s NFL meetings, have to wonder why they bothered. Last month’s 38-31 loss to visiting Indianapolis dropped Kansas City to 0-3 after a first-round bye following home losses to the Colts in 1995 and Denver in 1997. The Chiefs, 0-5 in postseason since Montana led them past the Houston Oilers on Jan.16, 1994, also were the first team since the 1975 Minnesota Vikings to start 9-0 and not win a playoff game.

Frighteningly familiar — Ten years ago, the offensive coordinator of a perennial contender took over an aging team that had collapsed to a 4-12 finish after making the playoffs the previous three seasons. That imploding team had been coached by a longtime coordinator, and one of its quarterbacks was the struggling Rich Gannon.

Last week an offensive coordinator of a perennial contender took over an aging team that had collapsed to a 4-12 finish after making the playoffs the previous three seasons. That imploding team had been coached by a longtime coordinator and was quarterbacked by the struggling Rich Gannon.

In case you haven’t figured it out, the new coach of both teams was Norv Turner. The first team was the Redskins, who went 9-23 during Turner’s first two seasons. Do you think Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis will keep Turner around if he goes 9-23 over the next two years?

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