Tom Brady the Least of Patriots 4th Quarter Problems

Ian Logue
October 19, 2012 at 10:13pm ET

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Tom Brady is the least of the Patriots 4th Quarter Problems. (US Presswire)

There's no question that the Patriots have had their share of 4th quarter issues in recent weeks, which has lead to a lot of discussion about Tom Brady and how effective he's been during the final quarter of play.

Michael Smith of ESPN pointed out a stat yesterday where it was mentioned that last week’s loss against Seattle was the 7th time the team has lost a game where they lead during the final five minutes in regulation since 2009, tied for the third most number of blown leads over that span.

History has shown poor performances by Brady in the 4th quarter aren't the norm. (FILE:USPresswire)

Smith goes on to point out numbers showing that Brady's 4th quarter performances haven't been strong, but it's tough to believe he's really the main issue. Considering what's transpired in recent weeks, it's a little more reasonable to think it's more of a product of what they've been dealing with defensively. Some would argue that it's up to Brady to move the chains and run out the clock, but it's sad to think that if he can't it's more or less a given that the defense won't be able to keep the other team out of the endzone.

Taking a quick over the past couple of seasons, they've definitely struggled. In 2010 the Patriots were ranked 25th defensively, and were 30th against the pass.  Last season they were 31st in the league overall defensively with the same ranking for their pass defense.  As we know the secondary has been an issue for a while now, and Seattle has been the first team we've really seen all season take advantage of them.

This group gave up some absolutely huge plays on Sunday. In the pouring rain the Seahawks hit on passes of 50, 51, and 46 yards - the latter two of which came in the final quarter and the last one came with just over a minute remaining for a touchdown and essentially gave Pete Carroll's bunch the upset.

When you're giving up that many yards on one play especially late in the game, that generally spells doom for any football team.

The other part of this argument is anytime you throw out collective totals, you basically have to break them down and try and focus on some of the situations surrounding them.

Taking a look back over the past two seasons, what we saw on Sunday has been more of an aberration than a trend - at least as far as Brady's concerned.  Now granted Brady's 4th quarter numbers aren't on par with the first three, but taking a look back on a week-by-week basis it's obvious that those types of performances are far less than frequent than they're being made out to be.

In 2010 Brady only had three games where he finished with a completion percentage of under 50% in the final quarter, which occurred in weeks 2 (38% at the Jets), 8 (38% at the Browns), and 10 (33% home against the Colts).  He had 10 games where he completed 60% or more, including 3 perfect quarters.

Last season he once again had three games where he finished with a completion percentage of under 50% in the final quarter, which happened in weeks 3 (38% at Buffalo), 4 (40% at Oakland) and 12 (40% home against the Colts).  He also once more had 10 games where he completed 60% or better, including 2 perfect quarters.

The other part of the problem likely has to do with the fact that over the past two years coming into this season they had lost just 5 total games, so this team tends to play with the lead quite a bit in the final quarter of play. As we've seen that generally has lead to pretty conservative play calling.  The other issue they had was the fact they couldn't run the football in the 4th quarter last Sunday against Seattle, with Stevan Ridley finishing the final quarter with 7 carries that included two for no gain and an average of 2.3, but it was the fact he was only able to gain 1 yard on first and second down prior to Seattle's game-winning drive that left them in a 3rd and 8 that they weren't able to convert.

From there the Seahawks got the ball and went after a Patriots secondary that had rookies Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson defending Sidney Rice, and Rice beat both for the 46-yard touchdown. That play will be the ones Patriots fans remember, not the 3rd and 8 that Brady couldn't complete to Deion Branch.

If nothing else, this should tell you that games like this are more rare than the norm, especially when you break it down on a week-to-week basis.  Sunday's 4th quarter was certainly his worst of the season, but history has shown that it's definitely not something you can expect on a weekly basis or all that often for that matter.

In the end it comes down to trying to understand why this pass defense is still struggling to find itself and somehow figuring out some sort of a solution.  Granted injuries to some key players can certainly be attributed to some of their issues, but as Bill Belichick likes to point out, every team has injuries and it's up to them to figure out how to win with who they have.

While this football team may have a myriad of issues, their most glaring one certainly isn't their starting quarterback.  The numbers pointing out a few of his flaws may not lie, but they don't exactly tell the whole story either.