C’mon now, Tom Brady can’t really be better than ever at age 44, can he? Common sense says no, but the numbers would disagree. Brady’s performance in his debut season in Tampa Bay last year exceeded the 16-game averages for his career. With that in mind, we figured it might be fun to compare Brady’s weekly numbers in 2021 (at 44) with his stats in 2011 (at 34) and 2001 (at 24).
The 24-year-old Brady in Game 1
Brady begins 2001 sitting behind Drew Bledsoe in New England, although he has moved up the depth chart after being buried at No. 4 during much of his rookie season in 2000. It will be another week before Bledsoe suffers a serious injury on a hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis and the Brady era begins in earnest.
The 34-year-old Brady in Game 1
A stellar performance by Brady in Miami in the season’s first Monday night game. Brady threw for a career-high 517 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots beat the Dolphins 38-24. That remains the only 500-yard passing day among Brady’s 300 career starts in the regular season. He also threw for 505 yards in a Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia in the 2017 season.
The 44-year-old Brady in Game 1
Well, how would you grade a 57-yard scoring drive with 84 seconds remaining to set up a game-winning field goal? Think there’s still a little life in the old fella? This was the 40th fourth-quarter comeback of Brady’s career, which trails only Peyton Manning’s NFL-record 43. He did throw two interceptions, but one was a Hail Mary and the other bounced out of a receiver’s hands.
Season totals thru Game 1
Brady in 2001
Had not yet thrown a pass.
Brady in 2011
Completed 32-of-48 for 517 yards, with four touchdowns, one interception and a 1-0 record.
Brady in 2021
Completed 32-of-50 for 379 yards, with four touchdowns, two interceptions and a 1-0 record.
This was not the greatest version of Tom Brady, but it was pretty darned good. And when the Cowboys took the lead in the final two minutes, the entire football-watching world knew the Bucs were still in the game because of TB12. You might even argue the Bucs were in the driver’s seat. Brady was 5-of-7 for 62 yards on the final drive before throwing the ball away on three successive downs to kill the clock.
John Romano can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.
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