Lombardi: Tebow, not Brady, the star Saturday

The premise seems almost comical, but the Boston Herald’s decision to publish a sports page with the words “Brady, Pats must end playoff skid to salvage legacy” printed in large bold type shows just how badly Patriots fans want Tom Brady & Co. to end their three-game playoff losing streak Saturday night against the Broncos.

Starting with their loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII, the Pats since have lost a 2009 wild-card game to the Ravens and flamed out last year at home to the Jets in the divisional round.

“When you go back and look at the last couple of games, Tom Brady threw an interception, their defense let them down against Baltimore, giving up a big 80-yard run the first play of the game,” NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi said Saturday on “NFL GameDay Morning.”

“I think their team has to come and play a team game today. Tom Brady can’t throw interceptions. They have to control the game. They have to start quickly and force Tim Tebow to play from behind, which is something they’re very capable of doing. Each team is different — [Bill] Belichick will tell you that. I think this team has a sense of continuity, has a sense of confidence that they’ve come from behind in a lot of games this year, and they’ve won some close games.”

One thing Lombardi believes makes this game different from the Patriots’ past playoff setbacks is the presence of the uber-popular Broncos QB. Tebow’s star-power is so great, Lombardi said, that it can even render a player of Brady’s status an afterthought.

“This is the first time Tom Brady hasn’t been the star of the game,” Lombardi said. “Everyone’s been talking about Tim Tebow. This will be the first time he now becomes an assistant player. He’s one of the actors that becomes and Tom Brady instead of starring Tom Brady.”

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