Young Tom Brady vs. Old Tom Brady: Game 12 comparison

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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 12

The Patriots were still in third place in the AFC East after starting the season 0-2, but they were beginning to make their move. Playing the second-place Jets in New York, the Patriots came from behind after trailing 13-0 at the half to win 17-16. Brady, meanwhile, was beginning to perfect the short, ball-control game plan of offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 213 yards and no interceptions. He threw for 56 of New England’s 57 yards on a fourth-quarter drive to set up a short Adam Vinatieri field goal for the Pats’ first lead of the game. It was Brady’s second game-winning drive in his first 10 games.

The 34-year-old Brady in Game 12

Playing a team with an 0-11 record, Brady did just about what you would have expected. The Patriots scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions between the second and third quarters and then just held on in the fourth to beat the Colts 31-24. It was the first time Brady was facing the Colts in the post-Manning era. Brady was 8-4 (including the postseason) against Indianapolis with Peyton Manning at quarterback. Brady was 29 of 38 for 289 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Both touchdowns went to Rob Gronkowski, who tied the NFL record for touchdowns in a season by a tight end with 13 with four games still remaining in 2011.

The 44-year-old Brady in Game 12

So here’s an obscure stat: There have only been seven games during the Super Bowl era when a quarterback has attempted 50 or more passes and had a completion rate of at least 70 percent. Brady has three of those games. In fact, after Sunday’s 30-17 victory over the Falcons, he has three of the top four. The Bucs quarterback was 38 of 51 (74.5 percent) for 368 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Brady spread his completions to receivers (24) running backs (9) and tight ends (5). And, oh by the way, it was his sixth 300-yard passing game of the season.

Season totals through Game 12

Brady in 2001

Completed 198 of 302 for 2,082 yards, with 16 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 7-3 record.

Brady in 2011

Completed 306 of 459 for 3,916 yards, with 30 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 9-3 record.

Brady in 2021

Completed 347 of 508 for 3,771 yards, with 34 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a 9-3 record.

The breakdown

Tampa Bay had 44 seasons of NFL football through 2019 and had never averaged 30 points in a season. Since Brady’s arrival, the Bucs have averaged 31.03 points a game in 28 regular season games. There may not be a better way to describe his impact on a franchise, and his ability to still play elite football at age 44. He’s not throwing downfield quite as much as he did 10 years ago, but he’s completing a higher percentage of passes with a higher percentage of touchdowns than his career totals.

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

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