Young Tom Brady vs. Old Tom Brady: Game 15 comparison

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Tom Brady
    Tom Brady
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|

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 15

Technically, this was one of Brady’s least-productive afternoons on an NFL field. He completed 11-of-19 passes for a paltry 108 yards and was sacked three times in a 20-13 victory against the Dolphins. Realistically, it was a day to remember for the TB12 brand. It was the final game played at Foxboro Stadium and it all but clinched the AFC East division title for the Patriots. New England was up 20-3 at halftime, so Brady and Bill Belichick switched into low gear and let the defense and running game take over. Brady threw only four passes in the second half. The day’s highlight? The first reception of Brady’s NFL career. With Kevin Faulk taking the direct snap, Brady caught a 23-yard pass on New England’s first touchdown drive.

The 34-year-old Brady in Game 15

The Dolphins had an interim head coach by the name of Todd Bowles, and the future Bucs defensive coordinator had a blitz-heavy plan for Brady. Miami sent extra rushers on 16 of Brady’s first 23 dropbacks on this Christmas Eve game. The plan worked in the first half as Brady completed only 7-of-19 for 87 yards as the Dolphins jumped out to a 17-0 lead. After making adjustments at halftime, Brady came out firing with 20 completions in 27 attempts for 217 yards in the second half as the Patriots came from behind to win 27-24 and clinch a bye in the first round of the postseason. Brady eclipsed his career high for passing yards in a season and was a week from going over 5,000 yards for the only time in his career.

The 44-year-old Brady in Game 15

Before we get to Brady’s passing numbers, let’s acknowledge his remarkable string of division titles. With Tampa Bay clinching the NFC South against Carolina, Brady has been a division champion in 18 of his 20 seasons as a full-time starter. As far as the game, Brady and the Bucs adjusted their offense accordingly with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin out with injuries. Brady’s 30 pass attempts were his lowest total of the season. He kept things safe, throwing about half of his passes in Antonio Brown’s direction.

Season totals through Game 15

Brady in 2001

Completed 247-of-384 for 2,645 yards, with 17 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 10-3 record.

Brady in 2011

Completed 378-of-576 for 4,897 yards, with 36 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 12-3 record.

Brady in 2021

Completed 422-of-632 for 4,580 yards, with 37 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and an 11-4 record.

The breakdown

So this is a weird topic to bring up, but bear with me. Brady scrambled for 11 yards and a first down during a touchdown drive in the third quarter against the Panthers. It was his fourth run of 10 or more yards this season, which is more than he had in the previous four seasons combined. No, this does not mean Brady is a running threat. But in the days before last season’s Super Bowl, he specifically said he was going to work on improving his speed in the offseason. At the time, it sounded like a joke. But already has rushed for more yards this year than in any season since 2011. Even at 44, he is fixated on incremental improvements to his game.

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

• • •

Sign up for the Bucs RedZone newsletter to get updates and analysis on the latest team and NFL news from Bucs beat writer Joey Knight.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting