Taking another look at Sunday’s game, it’s pretty clear that one of the main reasons why they won was due to the play of Tom Brady, both before and after the snap.
Brady was absolutely terrific on Sunday against the Jets. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
Head coach Bill Belichick said after the win that one of the things Brady did really well was recognize different situations, and then audible into better plays based on the personnel and alignments they were faced with. Obviously that’s all well and good, but execution still plays a key role in coming away with the victory.
Looking back at the game, he made some unbelievable throws in some crucial situations. I broke down each completion and came up with a degree of difficulty based on the situation and the throw and based it on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the easiest, 10 being the most difficult in terms of how hard it really was for him to complete the pass.
This was based largely on the distance, the proximity of the defenders to the receiver, recognizing the play, etc. Obviously there’s no set rating for this in place so it’s purely based on opinion, so keep that in mind as you go through each play.
Needless to say of the 24 completions Brady made, after giving a good hard look at each play, I found that 16 were rated with a degree of difficulty of 6 or better, with nine of them rated at 8 or better based on my own judgement while watching it back. Not that my opinion matters, but the whole purpose of this entry was to point out just how well Brady really played on Sunday, and how tough a lot of those throws really were.
So here’s a closer look at each of the 24 completions, with the degree of difficulty listed right beneath it:
1ST: This was an 11-yard completion to Wes Welker, which had him catching the ball less than a yard from safety Eric Smith. Brady threw it perfectly, allowing Welker to catch it at about their own 34, and advance it out to the 40.
Degree of Difficulty: 8 – This was a tight throw, with Brady throwing it perfectly inside away from the defender. This allowed Welker to catch it and turn away from Smith and gain yards after the catch.
2ND: This was a 32-yard pass across the middle to Welker, who caught it at the Jets 41 with safety Jim Leonhard less than a yard away from him. Brady threw it perfectly inside and Leonhard over-ran him. Welker spun away from him and took off from the 41 and was finally dragged down by Antonio Cromarte at the Jets 27. It helped set up BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ first touchdown, and was the only completion of that drive.
Degree of Difficulty: 9 – If Brady throws this a few inches to the right, Leonhard could have potentially cut in and picked it off and took it the other way. This was a great throw, and a great move after the catch by Welker.
3RD: This was a play-action pass on a faked handoff to Stevan Ridley, with Brady finding Deion Branch wide open over the middle at their own 25 with Cromarte 5 yards away from him. Branch managed to make it to the 28 before being taken down, for a gain of 17.
Degree of Difficulty: 4 – After the play fake Branch had plenty of space around him for Brady to fire the ball in there. They did a good job of setting up this play, and it was a well executed fake by Brady and also a great throw.
4TH: This was a slant to Branch, who caught the ball at the 23 about two yards away from Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson. Wilson hit Branch immediately, but it was a 9-yard gain.
Degree of Difficulty: 7 – It was a three step drop for Brady, who fired it in between defenders to Branch on the slant. Brady did a great job of leading Branch on the throw, allowing him to catch it, gain yards, and avoid taking a tougher hit.
5TH: This was a quick throw to Rob Gronkowski from the shotgun, with Brady connecting with the tight end at about the Jets 47, and he took it down to the Jets 39. The line of scrimmage on the play was the Jets 43, so it was a four yard gain. On the play Welker did a good job of blocking the defensive back out of the play, but the linebacker was able to come up and make the tackle.
Degree of Difficulty: 4 – The distance between Brady and Gronk was fairly close, with the defensive backs playing well off at the snap of the ball, allowing Brady a fairly easy throw. However, Brady did a good job of leading Gronk out in front so he could take off running after the catch.
6TH – This was a quick throw to Branch from the shotgun, with Brady taking one step back and then firing the ball over to him for the completion. Branch caught the ball at about the 29, and had Welker and Chad Ochocinco both doing a great job blocking out in front of him. Unfortunately Branch gained just 2-yards on the play, as Welker lost Wilson and he forced Branch to take it outside – where he was pushed out of bounds.
Degree of Difficulty: 6 – It was a hard throw and the timing of it was obviously key, so it was a more difficult throw because he had to get him the ball immediatley to be able to gain any positive yardage. Brady also did a good job putting it where Branch could quickly catch it and take off with it.
7TH – This was a quick throw from the shotgun to Aaron Hernandez, who took a few steps forward on the snap and turned around, with Brady hitting him immediately. He caught the ball at about the 9 with Smith 2 yards off him, and managed to spin away and get out to the 11.
Degree of Difficulty: 6 – This wasn’t a tough throw because Hernandez was fairly open, but Brady still did a great job throwing the ball outside so Hernandez could turn it upfield and gain yards after the catch.
8TH: This was a completion to Ochocinco on the sideline from the shotgun. Brady fired it right to him at the 37, allowing #85 to get both feet down before going out of bounds.
Degree of Difficulty: 7 – This was a really good throw, and Ochocinco’s man was about three yards off of him when the catch was made.
9TH: This was a quick throw over the middle from the shotgun to Ochocinco on the ensuing play, with the receiver catching the ball at about the 43-yard line. The closest defender was Cromartie, who was at the 45 when he caught the ball.
Degree of Difficulty: 7 – This was a tougher throw because Brady had to get rid of it almost immediately and make a perfect throw to help lead him inside. If Brady throws it behind him, it could have been gone incomplete – and this was a big 3rd down throw to extend the drive.
10TH: This was an 8-yard completion to Aaron Hernandez, who caught it at about the Jets 48, with three defenders around him, including Leonhard, who was right there when the ball arrived so Hernandez was hit immediately.
Degree of Difficulty: 9 – This ball had to be thrown perfectly to get it in there, and Brady did just that.
11th: This was a 29 yard throw to Branch, with Brady dropping it in perfectly near the far sideline over Wilson and right into Branch’s hands. On the play Branch ran out, stopped, and then drifted right, and Brady put it right on the money. Branch caught it in stride at about the Jets 36 yard line, and took it down to the Jets 23.
Degree of Difficulty: 9 – When you take into account the distance of this throw and how it was executed, it was a tremendous play. This wasn’t a deep out, so it’s not like Branch had his guy chasing him. It was a tough throw, and when you factor in the fact Brady’s right foot was on his own 38 and his left foot was on the 39 when he released the ball (nearly 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, and over 20 yards from where Branch initially caught it), this was a perfectly thrown ball that not only connected with Branch, but was thrown outside and right where he could catch it in stride and make a play.
12th: This was a completion to Hernandez for a 13-yard gain, with Brady completing this throw at the 20, before Hernandez turned it up field. On the completion the closest defender was Donald Strickland, who was about two yards away from Hernandez when the ball initially got there.
Degree of Difficulty: 7 – Brady threw this pass to Hernandez’ outside shoulder, allowing him to turn upfield after the catch and gain a few yards. Had Brady thrown it either right to him or inside, Hernandez may have not been able to gain the additional five yards.
13th: This was a perfectly thrown 4 yard out play to Welker on a 3rd and 3 in the closing seconds of the first half. Brady dropped this ball right over Darrelle Revis and into Welker’ hands, allowing him to make the catch and get out of bounds.
Degree of Difficulty: 10 – Brady threw this ball from the far hash mark on the right side of the field, all the way across and dropped it right into Welker’s hands. While it may not seem to be as tough as some of the other throws, the fact is Revis was right behind him, and if it’s not thrown as well as it was, Revis could have potentially made a play on Welker and caused an incompletion – and that would have stopped the drive. The timing of the throw was also perfect, with Brady releasing it immediately when Welker got separation from the Jets defensive back.
ON THE INTERCEPTION: This was a ball that was thrown perfectly in between two defenders, and was thrown up high where the 6’2″ Hernandez could catch it with his hands. Unfortunately Hernandez looked like he got his hands crossed up.
Degree of Difficulty: 10 – Brady put it right where only Hernandez could – and should – have caught it. It was a great throw right in between two defenders – who were both right there to make a play. Unfortunately it just didn’t work out, and he ended up with his first career home red zone interception.
14th: This was the 73-yard play to Welker to start the second half. On the play Brady executed a perfect play action fake on the first snap from scrimmage, with Brady throwing it while standing on their own 15 and dropping it over both Revis and Smith, with Welker catching it in stride at the 50 and taking it down to the Jets 7 after Revis caught him from behind.
Degree of difficulty: 8 – Welker lowered the degree of difficulty on this throw for Brady, but only slightly. The play action fake along with Welker coming up like he was going to block and then taking off and getting behind his defenders gave him about four yards of separation for Brady to drop the throw in. Don’t get me wrong, this was a tremendous throw, with Brady throwing it perfectly nearly 40 yards down the field and right into Welker’s hands.
15th: This was a 4 yard pass to Branch, and was the play they reviewed after Branch had appeared to fumble it. On the play Brady was forced outside and was chased down by Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, letting the ball go literally as he was going down. He managed to get it to Branch, who had Calvin Pace standing right behind him.
Degree of Difficulty: 10 – This may have been one of the toughest throws of the game for Brady. He was virtually falling down as he released it when Wilkerson caught him, and you take for granted how many times you’ve seen lesser QB’s make similar throws only to get intercepted. This was simply a great job by Brady, and fortunately they overturned the fumble.
16th: This was the 2 yard touchdown pass to Branch. Prior to the snap Brady brought Welker in closer, shouting, “tighter!”, and had Branch lined up to his left, with Welker in the slot right next to him. On the snap Welker ran into Pace, and Brady looked to his right. Pace pushed Welker to the ground, and you could almost see the Jets secondary shift over to the right knowing he’d been taken out of the play. Branch drifted well away from everyone on the other side of the field and was wide open, allowing an easy throw from Brady for the touchdown.
Degree of Difficulty: 3 – Brady lowered the degree of difficulty on this throw, thanks largely in part of the fact he looked everyone off and allowed Branch to completely turn Cromartie around and get himself wide open. As a result Brady put the ball right on the money, which at the time put them up 17-7.
17th: This was an 11-yard completion to Branch, which came off of a playaction fake to Green-Ellis. Branch had been lined up on the left, and then came back all the way across the field where Brady checked down to him.
Degree of difficulty: 4 – Branch had plenty of separation from his defender, with the completion coming at about their own 22 – just three yards beyond the line of scrimmage (their own 19) and right near the right sideline. Brady hit him in stride, and Branch took it up field just beyond the first down marker. Brady had no pressure on him, and Branch was open.
18th: This was a 17-yard completion to Gronk, with the tight end catching the ball at about their own 34, with Strickland three yards away from him as he made the catch. Gronk took the ball down to the 37, and it was a key play because it came on a 3rd and 13 following a sack by Brady.
Degree of Difficulty: 7 – Brady threw this one perfectly in front of the second year tight end, who had some separation from Strickland. It had to be thrown exactly where he put it, and as a result they converted a key third down to extend the drive.
19th: This was an incredible throw and catch by Brady to Hernandez on the ensuing play. On the play Brady threw it up high and inside where he went up and made a great grab at about the Jets 47, with Wilson right on him. After the catch the tight end turned to his left and still managed to grab a couple of more yards, before finally being called down at the 42.
Degree of Difficulty: 10 – This was as tight a throw as you can make. Brady threw this ball right where only Hernandez could catch it, and Wilson actually had one arm wrapped around him when the reception was made. As much credit as Brady deserves for the throw, this was also an amazing play by Hernandez in his first game back.
20th: This was a 4 yard completion to Welker, which came on a quick throw from Brady, who obviously recognized before the snap that Welker had no one on him. Brady threw it right out in front, allowing Welker to gain a few yards before Leonhard came flying up to make the tackle.
Degree of Difficulty: 3 – This was one of the less difficult completions by Brady Sunday. With Welker lined up in the slot to his left and no one on him, Brady was lined up under center and simply turned and threw it right to him after the snap.
21st: This was a 3 yard completion on a 3rd and 2 to Gronkowski, who was lined up on Pace, with the safety playing about 9 yards off the line of scrimmage. On the play Hernandez was lined up to the far right as a receiver, with Cromartie on him in coverage. After the snap Hernandez ran inside, and Gronk got by Pace and Brady threw him the ball, and he managed to turn upfield and get the first down.
Degree of Difficulty: 3 – Brady was in the shotgun and as soon as he saw Pace come up, he threw it right to Gronkowski. The second year tight end was wide open on the throw, and easily got the 1st down.
22nd: This was a quick throw from Brady to Green-Ellis, who was lined up wide to the left and had no one on him. Green-Ellis caught the ball at about the 16, and had Pool completely confused. He ran him over and was eventually forced out down by the goal line by Wilson and Harris.
Degree of Difficulty: 2 – It doesn’t get any easier than this. Great job by Brady to see Green-Ellis open, and he threw it right out in front so Green-Ellis could catch it and then take off with it. The only reason it’s not lower is because Brady still needed to make a good lateral throw and put it where he could make a play.
23rd: This was a 9-yard completion over the middle to Hernandez on the first play of the fourth quarter, which came on a 2nd and 5. On the play Hernandez was running a crossing route and was wide open, with the nearest defenders about four yards away. Brady threw it right out in front and the tight end caught it in stride, leaping over Wilson who tried to hit him low, and was then taken down by Harris.
Degree of Difficulty: 3 – This was an easy throw by Brady, who recognized he had Hernandez open underneath and threw him a perfectly thrown ball. Great throw, great catch, and great job by Herndandez to avoid Wilson and get the first down.
24th: This would be Brady’s final completion of the day, with Brady completing a 7-yard throw to Gronkowski. On the play Gronk was lined up wide left, with Leonhard lined up on him and Pool playing way off of him. Brady had Hernandez lined up just to his left, and on the snap Hernandez slipped out left, with Leonhard picking him up as Gronk came out and curled in. The Jets blitzed Brady on this play, with the quarterback forced to get the ball out to the tight end just after the ball was snapped.
Degree of Difficulty: 8 – While Gronk had a nice cushion with Pool a little over three yards away at the time of the reception, Brady had only a split second to make this decision and throw it to him. Converting this third down effectively sealed the game, as New England kept winding the clock down and eventually added a field goal to put it away.
Feel free to leave your own thoughts on anything you noticed during the game in the comment section.