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Young Tom Brady vs. Old Tom Brady: Game 9 comparison

Checking out how the Bucs quarterback fares at age 44 in comparison to how he played in Game 9 at ages 24 and 34.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady throws the ball during the first half against Washington, but the chemistry with his offensive playmakers was mostly missing Sunday.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady throws the ball during the first half against Washington, but the chemistry with his offensive playmakers was mostly missing Sunday. [ TERRANCE WILLIAMS | Associated Press ]
Published Nov. 14

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 9

Not a particularly memorable day for the GOAT. Brady was 15-of-21 for a meager 107 yards in a 21-11 victory against the 1-7 Bills. He was sacked seven times and lost a fumble in the fourth quarter that led to a Bills touchdown and cut the score to 14-11. But, in retrospect, there were some noteworthy moments in the victory. Brady was picked off by Buffalo cornerback Antoine Winfield, whose son is now Brady’s teammate in Tampa Bay. Also, the Bills got a 24-yard field goal from rookie placekicker Jake Arians, whose father Bruce was in his first season as offensive coordinator for the Browns.

The 34-year-old Brady in Game 9

This is what the AFC East had to deal with for two decades. The Patriots had lost consecutive games, and had fallen into a three-way tie with the Jets and Bills in the division. The Jets, who had reached the AFC Conference Championship as a wild card the previous two seasons, thought they were ready to finally take control of the division. Instead, Brady completed 26-of-39 for 329 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-16 victory on the road. Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdowns and had 113 receiving yards “They’re a good football team and they have No. 12 out there,” said Jets coach Rex Ryan. “This guy is an amazing player.”

Tom Brady threw two touchdowns and two interceptions Sunday against Washington.
Tom Brady threw two touchdowns and two interceptions Sunday against Washington. [ MARK TENALLY | Associated Press ]

The 44-year-old Brady in Game 9

It was the perfect setting for a patented Brady comeback. The Bucs had already cut the lead against a weaker team in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. The only thing missing? The Tampa Bay defense. The Bucs allowed Washington to go a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive that iced the game before Brady ever got another chance. It wasn’t a vintage Brady effort Sunday, but he didn’t get much help. His receivers dropped passes, his offensive line committed penalties and the game plan struggled to solve Washington’s defensive schemes. Brady finished 23-of-34 for 220 yards.

Season totals through Game 9

Brady in 2001

Completed 140-of-221 for 1,426 yards, with 11 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 5-2 record.

Brady in 2011

Completed 238-of-360 for 3,032 yards, with 23 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 6-3 record.

Brady in 2021

Completed 254-of-377 for 2,870 yards with 27 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 6-3 record.

The breakdown

Brady is at his best with a ball-control passing game, and he’s not clicking with his tight ends and running backs. Defenses have taken away the downfield passing game, and there are too many drops and blunders on short passes. You can point out that the game plan misses Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown, but you also expect the most successful quarterback in NFL history to overcome those kinds of problems. Brady has not done enough the past two weeks to win games the Bucs should win.

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

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