It was an extremely difficult week to single out one player especially deserving of our weekly award, because there were simply so many players deserving. Nick Foles, J.J. Watt, Andre Johnson, and even Rob Gronkowski garnered plenty of consideration. But in the end, I decided to go with New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady, who put together an incredibly dominant performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. He sliced his way through the Steelers, thoroughly embarrassing them in a 55-point performance for the Patriots offense. Brady used an arsenal of throws, and he finally had the deep ball working in a vintage Brady performance.
Many people were focused on Brady’s streak of terrible performances as a sign that the legend is on a decline, but I never bought into that. Decline would mean that the velocity on his throws were significantly worse, but that clearly isn’t/wasn’t the case then or now. Brady’s issue was decision-making (yes, the seemingly infallible part of his game), because he didn’t look himself out there by missing clearly open receivers and instead forcing awful throws.
While Nick Foles had seven touchdowns and put up some mind-boggling numbers, Brady had to make tougher throws in order to notch his impressive 432 yards through the air. Not only is the Steelers defense better than the Oakland Raiders defense, but Brady had to throw plenty of lasers and account for elite safety Troy Polamalu on every play (Ryan Clark isn’t too shabby either). He did benefit from plenty of busted coverage throws to Danny Amendola, who caught all four passes thrown at him for 122 yards and a big TD, but Foles seemed to have even more easy throws as a result of coverage breakdowns.
Brady’s raw numbers were incredibly impressive on Sunday, and hopefully his big day was a sign that the Patriots passing attack is clicking (they are really dangerous if this is indeed the case) and on track going forward. He completed 23 of 33 passes for 432 yards, which is an excellent average of 13.1 yards per attempt. No picks were thrown, and he also finished with a 151.8 QB Rating and 97.7 ESPN TQBR in a near-flawless performance. William Gay and Ike Taylor were burned repeatedly in coverage, so it is important to note that the Steelers pass defense wasn’t much better than the Raiders pass D on Sunday either.
On throws to the deep left, Tom Brady was an incredible 5-7 for 208 yards, and he threw all four of his touchdown passes to that side of the field. He received big plays from Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola in that region of the field, with Amendola, again, benefiting from busted coverage. Both of Dobson’s touchdowns came in that region, with the back-shoulder throw being a thing of beauty between Brady and Dobson. A sign that the Patriots pass offense is finally clicking? Both Brady and Dobson had to be on the same page in order for that highlight-reel play to work. By the way, Brady was also 9-10 on the right side.
I hated having to leave off Foles and the others mentioned in the first quarterback from this weekly honor, but I really had to give this to Tom Brady for finally getting back to his elite self. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and the NFL is definitely on notice after his monster performance.