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Young Tom Brady vs. Old Tom Brady: Week 4 comparison

Checking out how Tom Brady fares at age 44 in comparison to how he played in Week 4 at ages 24 and 34.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) runs off the field after Tampa Bay's 19-17 win over the Patriots on Sunday.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) runs off the field after Tampa Bay's 19-17 win over the Patriots on Sunday. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 4
Updated Oct. 4

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 4

The Brady magic was still not evident in his second start. The Patriots lost 30-10 at Miami, and Brady had two fumbles while being sacked four times. New England’s only touchdown drive came after an interception set the offense up on the Dolphins 10. It seemed as if Bill Belichick wasn’t quite ready to hand the keys of the offense to his new quarterback. Brady completed only 12 of 24 passes for 86 yards with no interceptions.

The 34-year-old Brady in Game 4

Playing near his hometown, Brady had a quietly effective day in a 31-19 victory against Oakland. The Patriots dominated early with four touchdowns and one field goal on their first six drives. At that point, Brady shifted into cruise control and let the running game take over. He finished 16-of-30 for 226 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The 44-year-old Brady in Game 4

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) is rushed on a pass play during the first quarter Sunday.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) is rushed on a pass play during the first quarter Sunday. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Okay, who had Mac Jones outplaying Brady in the office pool? Brady did not get much help from his receivers, but a lot of his troubles were also self-inflicted. In fact, the entire offense felt like it was out of sync. On the night he set the NFL’s all-time record for passing yards, Brady was mostly a mediocre quarterback. He did not throw an interception, but also did not perform well in the red zone. He finished the night 22-of-43 for 269 yards and no touchdowns.

Season totals through Game 4

Brady in 2001

Completed 30-of-57 for 300 yards, with no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 1-1 record.

Brady in 2011

Completed 109-of-163 for 1,553 yards, with 13 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 3-1 record.

Brady in 2021

Completed 119-of-184 for 1,356 yards with 10 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 3-1 record.

The breakdown

Bottom line: Brady delivered another fourth-quarter comeback. That gives him 41 for his career. But when you’re 44 years old and the world’s most recognizable football player, people tend to notice when you’ve had consecutive games that seem a little out of character. His overall numbers say Brady is still playing near an elite level, but performances like this will not deliver another Super Bowl.

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John Romano can be reached at jromano@tampabay.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.

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