Poke the bear once and you might get away with it. Poke it again, and you're done for. Hopefully fans of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos have learned their lesson after a 45-10 trouncing at the hands of the New England Patriots.
Don't mess with Tom Brady, or you'll pay for it.
Brady tied a playoff record with six touchdown passes and threw for 363 yards on 26-of-34 passing as the Patriots stomped all over the hapless Broncos. It was a demolition in every sense.
Led by Brady's historic performance, a determined New England squad thoroughly dismantled the recently rejuvenated Broncos, who were coming off a highly-publicized 29-23 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers last weekend.
And yes, at the center of it all was Tebow.
Tebow threw the 80-yard, game-winning touchdown to Demaryius Thomas that gave the Broncos the win and set up a date with the Pats on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. From the moment it happened, the build up began.
Tebow Time was back, and it was coming to New England for another go around.
For local fans who were already sick of Tebow, it was insufferable. TV shows, talk radio, newspaper articles, blogs and about every possible form of media was filled with Tebow talk. Tebow this, Tebow that. It's was all about Tebow.
And yet, lost in the discussion was a man who had won three Super Bowls, two Super Bowl MVP awards, and was coming off a season in which he threw for over 5,000 yards and led the NFL in touchdowns.
Somehow, for some unimaginable reason, people just forgot about Brady.
Well, Brady didn't forget about Brady. All week long, one can only image what was going through Tom Terrific's head. Seriously, they're falling in love win this guy? The same guy we already silenced. After less than one season?
If it were me, I would have had a chip on my shoulder. It's hard to image that Brady didn't have one, too. Of course, being the consumate professional that he is, he took the high road and offered up nothing but praise about Tebow.
"He's a good player, and I think it's a lot for the defense to prepare for," Brady said in an interview with WEEI. "I know in our preparations for him this last time, it's a challenge. It's a very different style. But they're very effective. They have a very good team. It's certainly not about one player on this team. I know a lot of people make it out to be one player on a lot of teams, but the reason why the Denver Broncos are in this position is because of their team as a whole. Certainly, the way that Tim played yesterday, it was just a great win all around by them."
Well, what else did you expect? Brady wasn't going to come out and tell everybody he's a joke, even if he is. There's no doubt that Brady went about his preparation for Tebow and the Broncos methodically, but you have to think that there was an element of disbelief inside the head of the seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback that Tebow was still being hyped.
Translation? Brady did what Brady does better than Tebow ever will. He won big and set records in the process. Brady had five touchdowns before halftime. The game was well in hand after a quarter and a half, really. Try and emulate that, Tebow. In his respectful way, Brady sent a message to Tebow with his play. Step aside, young man, I'm still the best.
Now that Tebowmania has been put in storage until next August, Brady and the Patriots will turn their attention to the winner of Sunday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, who will battle for the right to take on the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game next weekend in New England.
Once again, Brady and the Patriots will begin their thoughtful preparation starting Monday. Maybe this time around, people will give Brady the respect he is due. Or maybe not. If they don't, well, they are only fanning the flame.