They have heard it before because he has said it before.
So many times, starting 14 years ago, to a different set of players gearing up to face a remarkably similar Tom Brady in a Super Bowl. Steve Spagnuolo, the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator, said it to his guys back in late November this season. He reminded them again last week and has several more days this week ahead of Super Bowl 55.
“How many times can you say ‘You got to get Tom Brady off the spot?’” Spagnuolo told The Post. “How many times can you say that? Listen, it’s a good problem to have and I’m blessed to be doing it again.’’
That about sums it up.
Spagnuolo, 61, is indeed blessed to be doing it again, prepping for his third Super Bowl. He won it with the Giants after the 2007 season, beating Brady and the Patriots in a titanic upset. He won it after the 2019 season, beating the 49ers in his first year with the Chiefs. Now Spagnuolo gets another shot to take down Brady, now 43, and for the first time guiding a new team to the big game.
If there is much, or anything, all these years after Super Bowl 42 with the Giants that Spagnuolo has learned and can exploit in the aged Brady, please let him know.
“Look, I think Tom Brady is the most balanced quarterback I’ve ever seen,” Spagnuolo said. “What I mean by that, in the pocket, even if you move him a little bit he’s never out of balance. I tell you what’s most impressive to me about Tom Brady, he has not lost one thing, arm-strength-wise. He still throws the out with every bit of velocity, he still gets it out quick. To me, that’s the most amazing thing.”
In the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. on Feb. 3, 2008, Spagnuolo’s defense was able to limit Brady to 26 of 48 passing, for 266 yards and only one touchdown in a shocking 17-14 victory for the Giants. On Nov. 29 of this season, the Chiefs held on to beat the Buccaneers 27-24 in Tampa. Brady and the Bucs started slowly and trailed 17-0 after one quarter, but then heated up. Brady finished 27 of 41 for 345 yards, three touchdown passes and two interceptions. Spagnuolo’s unit was not really stopping the Bucs down the stretch, but Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense held the ball for more than 10 minutes (without scoring) on the final two possessions to keep the ball out of Brady’s hands.
“This guy can be a headache,” Spagnuolo said. “And you know the scary thing is when we played them down there early in the year, we had ‘em pretty good for a couple of quarters and a half and then he got going, Tom got hot and fortunately for us our offense kind of ran the clock out at the end. You know what he’s all about, we’ve seen him enough, there’s a lot to be concerned about.”
With the Giants, Spagnuolo knew his unit, especially his defensive line, was the most formidable part of the team and had to dominate to keep Brady and the Patriots from putting too many points on the board for Eli Manning and the offense to match. With the Chiefs, Spagnuolo knows his defense has a far longer rope. In the earlier meeting this season, Patrick Mahomes threw for 462 yards and found Tyreek Hill for touchdown passes of 75, 44 and 20 yards.
“To us, defensively, we just don’t want to do anything to hurt the team, because we know our offense can do well,” Spagnuolo said. “We just want to make sure we hold up our end of the bargain.”
His end of the bargain starts with doing enough to slay Brady in a Super Bowl – again.
“I’m honored to even be on the same field with Tom Brady, to be quite honest with you,” Spagnuolo said. “I just think that highly of him. I just hope as a unit defensively we can find a way to perform pretty good against him.”