Crazy stats will put spotlight on Brady, Pats in playoffs


Tom Brady's rampage through NFL defenses and passing record books through the first two weeks is staggering, but his jaw-dropping performances might end up being about as meaningful as 18-1.

That was the Patriots' record of course in 2007, when they went unbeaten in the regular season and made it to the Super Bowl, poised to one-up the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins. Then New England lost to the Giants in the championship game.

The Helmet Catch and the Giants' victory are what people ended up taking from that season. New England added to the allure because its achievements made New York's win that much more memorable, but in the end, their postseason failings made their regular-season run essentially meaningless.

Still, it's impossible to put a blemish on anything Brady is doing right now. Consider:

» Brady has 33 TDs and one interception in his last 13 regular season games dating back to Week 7 of 2010.
» He hasn't lost a regular-season home game since Nov. 12, 2006 to the New York Jets.
» After just two games this season, he's on pace to throw for 7,520 yards and 56 touchdowns, which would both be NFL records.

Yet, there's this:

New England has not won a playoff game since the 2007 season, beating San Diego in the AFC Championship Game. In 2008, when Brady was hurt, the Patriots failed to make the playoffs. They've since lost at home to the Ravens and the Jets in consecutive postseasons.

Now, it's not fair to say that Brady's statistics and regular season victories won't be validated until he wins another playoff game. He's got three Super Bowl rings, after all, and the Patriots' playoff losses aren't solely his fault.

But another playoff run certainly would enhance the magic that he's displayed over the past few seasons and during the past few games. And the spotlight will shine on this even brighter as the playoffs get closer because there's no reason to think Brady's crazy stats won't continue.

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In games against Miami (a decent defense) and San Diego (a good one), New England averaged a staggering 44 pass attempts per game. The Patriots, with Brady, have never averaged more than 37.6 throws per game; in his career, those attempts level off at 32.6 per game.

The NFL is in a new era, though. Throwing the ball is the way teams matriculate down the field. Five teams in 2011 are averaging more than 40 passes per game with the Chargers' 88 attempts in two games matching the Patriots. That number could diminish as weather gets colder and throwing the ball becomes difficult. In between then, though, Brady still could continue to rack up big numbers.

If a playoff berth is in the making, then we'll see if those stats can translate to victories like the regular season.

That's what matters most. Brady wouldn't argue that, either.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89



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