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 5
And the legend begins. Down 26-16 to the Chargers with 8:38 remaining, Brady took the Patriots on two scoring drives of 50 and 60 yards to tie the score. In overtime, after the Doug Flutie-led Chargers punted on their first possession, Brady directed a 51-yard drive for a field goal. “He put himself on the map today,” third-string quarterback Damon Huard said. Brady completed 33-of-54 passes for 364 yards and no interceptions. “He knows where the coverage is and he doesn’t throw too many into the crowd,” coach Bill Belichick said before knocking on the podium three times. “Hope he can keep it that way.”
The 34-year-old Brady in Game 5
Simple, efficient performance in a 30-21 victory at home against the Jets. The Patriots were in control most of the game, but New York cut the score to 27-21 with seven minutes remaining. No problem. Brady directed a six-minute, 13-play, 69-yard drive for a chip-shot field goal to put the game out of reach. For the day, Brady was 24-of-33 for 321 yards with one interception and one touchdown. At this point in the season, the Patriots lead the NFL in passing yards with 366.6 per game.
The 44-year-old Brady in Game 5
You can’t make this stuff up. Brady has thrown for five touchdowns before. He has thrown for more than 400 yards before. But he’s never done both in the same game. Not to mention, Brady has now gone four games and 204 passes since his last interception on a Hail Mary attempt at the end of the first half against Dallas. The 204 passes break the team record of 199 that Brady set last year. And that 62-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown was his longest since Dec. 16, 2018.
Season totals through Game 5
Brady in 2001
Completed 63-of-111 for 664 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 2-1 record.
Brady in 2011
Completed 133-of-196 for 1,874 yards, with 14 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 4-1 record.
Brady in 2021
Completed 149-of-225 for 1,767 yards with 15 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 4-1 record.
The stats say Brady is playing better today than he did at age 24 or 34, and it’s hard to disagree. Brady is spreading the ball around to different receivers, he’s standing in the pocket and taking hits, he’s still going for broke on deep balls. The Dolphins were not much of a test on Sunday, but Brady deserved the break after last week’s emotional win against the Patriots.
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John Romano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @romano_tbtimes.
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