Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T.
I was talking to Fredy about this recently, and he made a good point in saying that people won’t appreciate him until he’s gone. Even at 42, people are holding him to the standard of being the greatest day-by-day, as if he hasn’t already proved it with the greatest body of work for one career in the history of the game.
I thought a fun way to look at Tom Brady’s career would be to see some of the best eight-game stretches he’s ever had (in the regular season).
Putting up big numbers for the equivalent of half an NFL season is more than just a few good games, and allows us to see some great peaks.
Through my research, I found 8 stretches that were truly dominate, all between 2007 and 2017 (see, he gets better with age).
I narrowed it down to 5.
That wasn’t easy, but it just shows how how good Brady has been (and can be) when he’s on his game.
Take a look for yourself.
- November 13, 2011 – January 1, 2012
- 189 for 290 (65.2%), 2532 yards, 19 TDs & 2 INTs (111.7 passer rating)
- September 30, 2012 – November 22, 2012
- 195 for 302 (64.6%), 2412 yards, 20 TDs & 2 INTs (108.5 passer rating)
- September 17, 2017 – November 12, 2017
- 215 for 307 (70%), 2540 yards, 19 TDs & 2 INTs (112.8 passer rating)
5. October 5, 2014 – November 30, 2014
212 for 315 (67.3%), 2452 yards, 24 TDs & 4 INTs (110.7 passer rating)
Best game: 30 for 35 (85.7%), 354 yards, 5 TDs & 0 INTs (148.4 passer rating) versus Chicago (October 26, 2014)
Team record: 7-1
I had to include this because it was a turning point in Brady’s career. Brady’s last game before the beginning of this stretch was the tumultuous Monday night game in Kansas City where he went 14 for 23, only passing for 159 yards, 1 TD & 2 INTs (59.9 passer rating). And if you looked at his last 8 games before this stretch began (including the postseason), you might begin to be worried:
146 for 250 (58.4%), 1560 yards, 7 TDs & 3 INTs (81.1 passer rating)
His worst eight-game stretch? Maybe post-2007, but I’d have to look further. Regardless, it fueled a narrative that the Patriots dynasty was over, and that he was no longer the same player he had been in the past.
The team was “on to Cincinnati” and went on a run starting with that game. 8 games later and New England was 10-3 and in the driver’s seat for a playoff bye week for the 5th straight season, and Brady was on top of his game.
As you know, New England would go on to win their first Super Bowl in 10 years at the end of this season, but it started after 4 games worth of adversity, and questions of the G.O.A.T’s demise. As you’ll see, when his back is against the wall, Tom Brady pushes back, and plays like a legend.
4. October 9, 2016 – December 4, 2016
208 for 302 (68.9%), 2470 yards, 19 TDs & 1 INT (113.1 passer rating)
Best game: 29 for 35 (82.9%), 376 yards, 3 TDs & 0 INTs (140.0 passer rating) versus Cincinnati (October 16, 2016)
Team record: 7-1
The beginning of the revenge tour. Coming off of a disappointing finish to the 2015 season (losing in the AFC Championship Game), Brady missed the first 4 games of 2016 while serving a suspension due to his involvement in Deflategate. Simply put, when he was back, he was ready to roll over the NFL.
It took until his 5th game of the season to throw an interception, and he only threw 2 the entire regular season.
His peak during this stretch was right off the bat during his first 4 games. Versus Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, Brady was a combined 98 for 138 (73.1%), with 1319 yards, 12 TDs & 0 INTs (133.9 passer rating).
He “cooled off” from there, but finished the season going 11-1 in games he started, with 28 TDs & 2 INTs, and went on to win the 5th Super Bowl of his career, which included the greatest comeback in NFL history during the second half of Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons.
He proved to the league his legendary production wasn’t due to some alleged deflated footballs, but rather, because he was simply better than anyone you could put in front of him.
3. September 10, 2015 – November 8, 2015
225 for 328 (68.6%), 2709 yards, 22 TDs & 2 INTs (113.5 passer rating)
Best game: 25 for 32 (78.1%), 288 yards, 4 TDs & 0 INTs (143.7 passer rating) versus Pittsburgh (September 10, 2015)
Team record: 8-0
I consider this the original revenge tour.
Brady and the Patriots were coming off of a Super Bowl victory, but the offseason was full of controversy due to the fallout of Deflategate. The team lost a first round draft pick in 2015, and was fined $1 million, but Brady was hurt most of all, as he was handed a 4-game suspension, by far the harshest penalty for an equipment violation in the history of the game.
He fought the penalty all offseason, and just days before the season started, a U.S. District Court ruled that he could play and did not have to serve the suspension.
Brady was out for blood.
It was the beginning of a 3-season stretch where he was improving his game (yes, at the age of 38), and playing some of the best football of his career.
The team started the season 10-0, but starting in Game 8, Brady’s teammates began falling left and right, and by the final 6 games of the seasons, he was without Julian Edelman and Dion Lewis, and his offensive line was a mess (plus Gronk got hurt).
Sadly the season did not finish as good as it started (that would have to wait a year), but I think you can argue this was the best Brady ever was outside of 2007.
2. November 14, 2010 – January 2, 2011
158 for 231 (68.4%), 2074 yards, 22 TDs & 0 INTs (128.2 passer rating)
Best game: 21 for 27 (77.8%), 341 yards, 4 TDs & 0 INTs (158.3 passer rating) at Detroit (November 25, 2010)
Team record: 8-0
I prefer Brady during his 2014-2017 stretch, but you cannot deny how good Brady was to finish 2010.
After a disappointing loss to the Cleveland Browns to drop the team to 6-2, the Patriots went 8-0 to finish 2010, winning 14 games for the 4th time since 2003, and first time since 2007; a lot of that was due to how efficient Brady was.
He had a passer rating above 100 each game during this stretch, and did not throw an interception.
Brady had missed basically all of the 2008 season due to tearing his ACL and MCL in Week 1. His 2009 season was a bit below his standards (and off of his 2007 pace) due to recovering, but in 2010 he proved he could still be the guy he was during his first MVP season.
His torrid finish to 2010 was good enough for Brady to earn his second career MVP (and in unanimous fashion), but it did not translate in the postseason, as the Patriots were upset at home to the New York Jets, the second straight time they had lost a home playoff game; they have not done this since.
1. September 23, 2007 – November 18, 2007
203 for 279 (72.8%), 2483 yards, 32 TDs & 3 INTs (133.5 passer rating)
Best game: 21 for 25 (84%), 354 yards, 6 TDs & 0 INTs (158.3 passer rating) at Miami (October 21, 2007)
Team record: 8-0
You could pick any 8-game stretch from 2007 and it would top this list, but this was the best of the best.
Consider this: prior to 2007, Brady still had the label of a game-manager type QB. Yes, he was a 3-time Super Bowl Champion and 2-time Super Bowl MVP, but he had never thrown more than 28 TDs in a season, and was not considered as skilled or talented as Peyton Manning.
Well, that was before he got some weapons to work with.
As the Patriots acquired Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Donte Stallworth in the offseason, they gave Brady more ammo to work with than he had ever had… and he proved he knew what to do with it.
Brady broke his career-high for touchdown passes by the end of October, and put up the best numbers anyone had ever seen at the QB position.
During this particular stretch, he had three (3) games with at least 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, and threw at least 3 TDs each game.
This is the best a QB has ever played at any time in NFL history over the course of 8 games, plain and simple.
Just so people don’t think I’m too biased, I’ve gathered up some other great 8-game stretches from various QBs… you can determine if they stack up to Brady in 2007 (or at all).
Dan Marino: September 2, 1984 – October 21, 1984
166 for 250 (66.4%), 2390 yards, 24 TDs & 5 INTs (120.9 passer rating)
Best game: 21 for 28 (75%), 311 yards, 5 TDs & 0 INTs (150.4 passer rating), at Washington (September 2, 1984)
Marino had a truly unprecedented season in 1984, breaking the record for most TD passes by 12. He tied the old record of 36 with 3 games to go in the season, and proceeded to throw 12 more touchdowns before the year was over. Marino had an 8-game stretch in 1986 where he threw 27 touchdowns, but he was nowhere near as efficient as he was during this run.
Peyton Manning: October 3, 2004 – November 25, 2004
169 for 250 (67.6%), 2293 yards, 32 TDs & 6 INTs (126.2 passer rating)
Best game: 23 for 28 (82.1%), 236 yards, 6 TDs & 0 INTs (141.4 passer rating) at Detroit (November 25, 2004)
This was the season Manning broke the record for passing touchdowns in a season with 49 (broken by Brady in 2007, and again by Manning in 2013). It’s the closest anyone has ever been to what Brady did in 2007. As Brady’s chief rival, it’s only right that’s how it would be.
Aaron Rodgers: September 25, 2011 – November 20, 2011
192 for 264 (72.7%), 2548 yards, 26 TDs & 4 INTs (129.4 passer rating)
Best game: 24 for 30 (80%), 335 yards, 3 TDs & 0 INTs (146.5 passer rating), at Minnesota (October 23, 2011)
To be fair, Rodgers could have had a few entries here, but this edged out a few other great stretches. A-A-Ron won his first MVP in 2011 as he was coming off of a Super Bowl the season prior, and the Packers were absolutely rolling. They started the season 13-0 before losing in Kasnas City in Week 15, but this run helped propel one of the best statistical seasons in NFL history.
Drew Brees: November 6, 2011 – January 1, 2012
226 for 314 (71.97%), 2730 yards, 27 TDs & 4 INTs (121.6 passer rating)
Best game: 32 for 40 (80%), 412 yards, 5 TDs & 0 INTs (149.2 passer rating), at Minnesota (December 18, 2011)
Drew Brees was simply on fire to end 2011. He helped the team go on an 8-0 run to finish the season, and the Saints finished with a 13-3 record. However, that was only good for the third seed in the NFC, as the Packers went 15-1 in 2011, and the 49ers also went 13-3, but had a tiebreaker and got a playoff bye; the Saints season would come to an end against San Francisco in the divisional round.
Patrick Mahomes: October 14, 2018 – December 9, 2018
210 for 306 (68.6%), 2789 yards, 29 TDs & 9 INTs (116.6 passer rating)
Best game: 33 for 46 (71.1%), 478 yards, 6 TDs & 3 INTs (117.6 passer rating) at Los Angeles (November 19, 2018)
Well, I looked for a stretch you can argue Mahomes was better than Brady in 2007 (in 8 games), and this is the closest I could find. He’s close in touchdowns, and he passes for more yards, but he also commits more turnovers, has a lower completion percentage, and his passer rating is notches below Brady (and everyone else above him). Nothing to hold against him, he was only 23 during this stretch and in his first season as a starter in the NFL… but it proves once against just how special Brady was in 2007.
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