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Young Tom Brady vs. Old Tom Brady: Week 7 comparison

Checking out how the Bucs quarterback fares at age 44 in comparison to how he played in Week 7 at ages 24 and 34.
Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, had no interceptions and finished with a passer rating of 109.8 Sunday against the Bears.
Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, had no interceptions and finished with a passer rating of 109.8 Sunday against the Bears. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 24
Updated Oct. 25

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 7

Perhaps the most un-Brady-like game of Tom’s career. Facing the 3-3 Broncos with Brady’s former Michigan teammate Brian Griese at quarterback, the Patriots were cruising in the third quarter with a 20-10 lead. Yet, when Denver began mounting a comeback, New England fell apart. And a shellshocked Brady played a huge role in the collapse. He had thrown 162 passes in his NFL career without an interception before throwing FOUR! in the fourth quarter, including a pick-six. He finished 25 of 38 for 203 yards and two touchdowns, but the Broncos came away with 31-20 victory.

The 34-year-old Brady in Game 7

When he was on the field, Brady was sharp against the Steelers. He completed nearly 69 percent of his passes without an interception. Unfortunately for the Patriots, he spent most of the day on the sidelines because the Steelers held the ball for nearly 40 minutes. When Brady has a passer rating above 100 in a game, his team has a 136-10 record. This was one of the 10 losses. Brady drove the Patriots to a late touchdown, but New England coach Bill Belichick had so little confidence in his defense that he tried an onside kick with 2:40 remaining. It failed, and the Patriots lost.

The 44-year-old Brady in Game 7

For some quarterbacks, this would be a career day. Four touchdown passes, no interceptions and a passer rating of 109.8. For Brady, it was okay. There was some miscommunication with receivers, there were some passes that were off the mark, there was even a streak of six consecutive incompletions. The 211 passing yards were his lowest output of the season. Yet, even when he’s not at his best, Brady can still carve up a pretty good defense. He did his work in the first quarter and then put the Bucs offense on cruise control the rest of the way.

Season totals through Game 7

Brady in 2001

Completed 104 of 169 for 1,069 yards, with seven touchdowns, four interceptions and a 3-2 record.

Brady in 2011

Completed 184 of 272 for 2,361 yards, with 18 touchdowns, eight interceptions and a 5-2 record.

Brady in 2021

Completed 203 of 303 for 2,275 yards with 21 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 6-1 record.

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The breakdown

So let’s think about this: Brady’s touchdown passes are up, his interceptions are down and the Bucs are off to their best start in franchise history. I think you can make a pretty good argument that he’s at least near the top of his game, if not exceeding his production in New England. There’s still a long way to go this season, but 44-year-old Brady is looking like vintage Brady.

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

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