Anyone thinking Tom Brady would be well-rested and ready to go after his four-game ban probably never imagined he’d be this good.
The veteran quarterback went out on Sunday against a tough Steelers defense and put up 27 points on the road in a tough environment, helping lead New England to a hard-fought 27-16 win over Pittsburgh to improve to 6-1 on the season.
Brady finished the afternoon 19-of-26, missing just seven passes while throwing two touchdowns and finishing with a QB rating of 124.2, but the biggest thing that was impressive was just his patience and poise. Despite a game where Pittsburgh made things difficult while forcing a couple of turnovers, Brady did a great job of keeping things steady. Following a fumble by Chris Hogan on their opening drive, they came back and scored on four of their next seven possessions, finishing the day converting 7-of-12 (58%) on third down.
He was 6-of-8 over the final two quarters, with Pittsburgh testing New England’s defense after holding the ball for 18:36 in the second half, including a third quarter where the Patriots had the ball for just three minutes.
But Brady finally wore them down and came up with a couple of big plays. Two of his six second-half completions were plays of over 30-yards to Rob Gronkowski, one of which went for a 36-yard touchdown that essentially put the game away when they went up 20-13 with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“It was just a play where there was a split safety and I just had a little bender to go right up the middle,” Gronkowski said of the touchdown after the game. “A little seam route that bended between the split safety, and I just had a good look. And Tom threw the ball perfectly, right on the money for me to make the play and I just had to run, give a little move and run full speed. Just good execution overall.”
Brady’s been no stranger to big plays. He’s hit 14 pass plays of over 20-yards since his return the last three weeks, including 12 of over 30-yards. Prior to his return, they had just 10 plays of over 20-yards through four games, only 4 of which went for over 30-yards.
Sunday’s effort put Brady over the 1000-yard mark on the season as well as over 100 attempts, with the quarterback now sitting at 76-of-101 (75%) for 1004-yards and 8 touchdowns. He’s averaging 9.9 yards per play, an NFL best for quarterbacks with more than one pass attempt this season and his 132.6 QB Rating also leads the league. He’s also hit 9-of-12 in the Red Zone, including six touchdowns and 41 of his 76 attempts (54%, more than half) have been for first downs.
The amazing thing about it is the fact this team isn’t consistently clicking yet on all cylinders, which means there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Given the type of numbers Brady is already producing, that should be a scary thought for the teams they’ll face in the weeks ahead.
For now, Brady’s just glad they’re 6-1 and he’ll get to savor it for a little bit before he starts preparing to try and help get a little redemption in Buffalo next Sunday.
“I wish our execution – when it was good, we made a lot of good plays,” said Brady. “I think there were self-inflicted wounds that really hurt us. It’s still really good to come in here and get the win.”
“It’s a great place to play. They have a great team, they always have. It’s good to get the win.”
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary