By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — For the first time in a long time, Tom Brady is not the NFL’s leader in passing yards.
Don’t expect things to remain that way for long.
Brady did not play on Sunday, as he and the Patriots prepare for Monday night’s game in Miami. And it was during Sunday’s window of games that Brady saw himself slide out of the No. 1 spot down to the No. 3 spot.
With an absurd 506-yard performance on Sunday night, Ben Roethlisberger vaulted himself into the top spot in the NFL, while Matthew Stafford’s 381-yard performance against the Buccaneers moved the Lions’ quarterback into the No. 2 spot.
NFL Passing Yards Leaders (Prior to MNF)
1. Ben Roethlisberger: 3,744 yards
2. Matthew Stafford: 3,683 yards
3. Tom Brady: 3,632 yards
4. Philip Rivers: 3,611 yards
5. Drew Brees: 3,569 yards
With even a mediocre performance against the Dolphins, Brady will end up back in the top spot. He’ll need to throw for 73 yards to pass Stafford and 113 yards to pass Roethlisberger. Brady hasn’t finished a game with fewer than 113 passing yards in a full game played since Week 15 of the 2006 season, so it’s a fair assumption that Brady will resume the No. 1 position by the end of Monday night.
Still, it’s getting crowded atop the passing leaderboard, and Brady also has work to do in terms of touchdown passes. After throwing zero touchdowns last week in Buffalo, Brady remains stuck on 26. That puts him three behind Russell Wilson and seven behind Carson Wentz. However, Wentz’s season appears to be over due to a knee injury, with the Eagles quarterback atop the touchdown leaderboard with 33.
NFL Touchdown Leaders (Prior to MNF)
1. Carson Wentz: 33
2. Russell Wilson: 29
3. Tom Brady: 26
4. Ben Roethlisberger: 24
5. Philip Rivers: 23
5. Alex Smith: 23
5. Matthew Stafford: 23
Brady has four games left, so he’s likely to be able to pass Wentz’s 33. Clearly, though, there will be many names involved in the chase for the top spot there. Plus, Brady will be closing out his season with three straight games in cold, Northeast weather, which might provide an advantage for some of his competitors.
Brady also has thrown the fewest interceptions — four — of any quarterback ranked in the top 22 in touchdown passes, and consequently his 6.5 TD-to-INT ratio is best in the league.
NFL Passer Rating Leaders (Prior to MNF)
1. Tom Brady: 109.7
2. Alex Smith: 104.4
3. Drew Brees: 104.2
4. Aaron Rodgers: 104.2
5. Deshaun Watson: 103.0
6. Carson Wentz: 101.9
7. Jared Goff: 99.2
Brady is coming off one of his more underwhelming weeks of the season, after completing 21 of 30 passes for 258 yards, no touchdowns and an interception in Buffalo. It was the first time since Week 1’s loss to Kansas City that he did not throw at least one touchdown, and it came after a three-week run during which he threw 10 touchdowns and one interception.
As for Monday night, Brady has had many well-publicized struggles throughout his career while playing in Miami, but the last time he played there on a Monday night, he set a career high with 517 yards. It was the only time in Brady’s career that he topped the 500-yard mark in a game.
All of this is, of course, relevant to the case for Brady as the NFL MVP. While Brady himself likely isn’t too focused on statistical achievements, there’s no doubt that he wouldn’t mind adding a feather to his cap by being able to say he led the league in passing yards and touchdowns as a 40-year-old while winning the MVP. It would certainly be a testament to his much-trumpeted TB12 Method.