Brady is one win away from his 12th season with at least 12 wins as a starter, which would break a tie with Peyton Manning for the most such seasons in the Super Bowl era. But as Brady has shown at times this season, most notably after a 17-10 win against the Philadelphia Eagles in mid-November, he can sometimes be despondent in the aftermath of victories when the offense struggles.
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Brady has acknowledged this has been a challenging season for the offense, which is reflected in him not being voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2008 (he missed that year with a torn ACL). In fact, the Patriots (11-3) didn’t have any offensive players selected to the initial Pro Bowl roster, which is the first time that has happened since 2003.
Football is the ultimate team game, and there are several factors (e.g. receivers not getting open consistently, offensive line struggles, inaccurate passing that might be tied to a prior elbow injury) that have contributed to the struggles that have produced some un-Brady-like statistics, such as:
He has completed fewer than 60% of his passes in five straight games, tying for the longest single-season streak of his 20-year career.
He has five straight games with a total QBR below 40, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. Brady ranks 27th out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks since Week 11 in total QBR at 34.8.
He has consecutive games with fewer than 5 yards per attempt for the first time since 2006. He’s never had a streak of three straight games.
Now comes a contest on Saturday (4:30 p.m. ET, NFL Network) against the Buffalo Bills (10-4) and one of the stingiest defenses in the NFL, which could mean the struggles continue for an attack that has a limited margin for error. That’s why Brady spoke on his weekly interview on Westwood One radio of the offense as a complementary piece.
“I think it’s going to be important to us to minimize mistakes, and when we do get those scoring opportunities, we’re going to have to take advantage. Our defense has been doing a great job all season,” Brady said.
With that comes a balance, as Brady acknowledged the Patriots simply can’t take a knee on each snap. But they have about a 95% winning percentage, according to Brady, when they don’t have a turnover. So he’s been as focused on risk assessment this season as he’s ever been.
“I’m doing the best I can to try to take care of it,” Brady said in the radio interview. “And when we get some scoring opportunities, try to put the ball in a place where we can go make plays on the ball.”
While Brady’s stats have dipped, the Bills aren’t expecting anything but his best, considering he is 31-3 against them. When Buffalo coach Sean McDermott was asked Wednesday about what challenges he sees in facing the Patriots’ offense, he said, “Where do you want to start? Tom Brady.”
And as for those stats …
“The most important thing for me has always been to help my team achieve the goal of winning the game — however that played out, whether it be hand the ball off 50 times or throw it 50 times,” Brady said on Westwood One. “That’s what I’ve always tried to focus on. You want to be productive every week. You want to go out and throw touchdowns, because that means points. You want to throw for yards, because that means production and the opportunity to score points.
“But at the same time, the object of the game is to win. However you do it, that’s why we’re playing. … I feel like there’s more statistics now than there’s ever been. The data analytics part of the game has exploded. But in the end, the one for me that matters the most is winning.”