Is Tom Brady saving best for NFL playoffs
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. Getty Images

Tom Brady became the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards Sunday and it was barely discussed nationally. Locally, too, for that matter.

Nationally you can understand it. Brady is arguably the most hated athlete in North America outside of New England. Locally, it was likely due to the fact that everyone has become accustomed to Brady’s greatness. Clinching all-time records like that are not exactly a surprising accomplishment at this point.

Locally, people are also only concerned with how Brady is playing in the moment and how his current play will translate into victories come January and – potentially – February.   

Right now, Brady does not look to be at the peak of his powers as he good but not great against the Jets on Sunday. That doesn’t mean, though, that he can’t flip the switch. He’s done it before, of course.

 

In the past two seasons Brady has seen his numbers dip during the final two months of the regular season. This led to many discussions about Brady’s age and if he was still capable of playing elite football for an entire season.

Brady, of course, proved all of his doubters wrong come playoff time.

In the final seven regular season games he played in the 2016 season, he registered a game in which he threw for 300 yards or more just one time (a Monday nighter against Baltimore where he threw for 406 yards).

Brady had a mediocre performance in his first playoff game of that season, a 34-16 Patriots win over the Texans in which he threw two interceptions. But he followed that up with a near-perfect game against the Steelers in the AFC title game and a 466-yard gem against the Falcons in the Super Bowl.

Last December in games at Buffalo and at Miami, Brady turned in back-to-back clunkers. He did not throw a touchdown but did toss an interception against the Bills as he finished with an 82.4 quarterback rating that day. A week later he was picked off twice in a loss at Miami and finished with a brutal 59.5 quarterback rating.

He was a tad better in that huge win at Pittsburgh in Week 15, but it was far from a Brady classic as he threw just one touchdown and was picked off. He finished that one with an 87.6 quarterback rating.

But in the playoffs, all was again right with the world. In fact, Brady’s 2017 postseason should be ranked among the greatest three-game playoff stretches of all-time for a quarterback. He threw three TDs with zero picks in a 35-14 win over the Titans in the divisional round, and  threw a pair of TDs with zero picks in the dramatic AFC title game win over the Jags. And then there was the Super Bowl record 505 yards with three touchdowns and zero INTs in the narrow Super Bowl loss to the Eagles.

All told, Brady may be playing possum right now and could be saving his best for last again this season. That would be far from a surprise.