In a just world, MVP honors would go to the losing quarterback in this game.

Jake Delhomme looked like he had no business on the field early on, but he single-handedly made things interesting by completing huges passes when it looked like the Panthers had used up all their breaks.

Tom Brady played as expected: Composed, solid, effective — nobody can question whether he’s one of the top QBs in the league. He did what was necessary to win, but really, he didn’t exceed anybody’s expectations. Probably couldn’t have.

I wrote the Panthers off after the first Patriots touchdown — you could tell by the Pats’ control of the offensive line, their tendency to move the ball at will, that they were going to win this game. But every time they seemed to have it in the bag, Delhomme and his band of irregulars pulled off another miracle.

The Panthers had too many penalties, made too many mistakes on defense, showed no signs of life on offense for the first 25 minutes of the game, were outrun and outpassed and outplayed all day. And yet they came within a couple plays of knocking off a clearly superior team.

If I had a hat, it’d be tipped to the Panthers for making this a game worth watching, for getting me to pay attention to the teams’ strategies more than the advertisers’ strategies.

One for the ages, in any case.