By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
FOXBORO (CBS) — There’s been much discussion and debate about the quality of play of Tom Brady this season. But on this, there can be no doubt: the Patriots quarterback has now put the finishing touches on the single greatest season by any quarterback over the age of 40.
At 41 years old, Brady entered Week 17 having completed 351 of 537 passes (65.4%) for 4,105 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He averaged 7.6 yards per attempt and posted a 95.4 passer rating, while also leading his team to 10 victories. And through the first half against the Jets, Brady only added to his totals.
Brady went 16-for-22 for 165 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions through the first 30 minutes of Week 17 against the Jets. Brady added a fourth touchdown late in the game, and his work on Sunday was more than enough to earn an 11th win on the year.
All of Brady’s season stats are better than any individual 41-year-old quarterback has ever posted in NFL history.
In fact, Brady’s numbers are better than the best numbers of all quarterbacks who dared to even try to play in the NFL. Those quarterbacks are Brett Favre* (2010), Vinny Testaverde* (2004), and Warren Moon* (1997). If you were to create a Frankenstein’s monster of sorts, taking only the best stats in each category from that trio, the imaginary best 41-year-old quarterback of all time would have put forth these stats:
313 completions (Moon)
60.6 percent completion rate (Favre)
3,678 yards (Moon)
25 TDs (Moon)
16 INTs (Moon)
7.1 yards per attempt (Testaverde)
83.7 passer rating (Moon)
7-7 record (Moon)
And here are the cumulative stats Brady posted in 2018:
65.8 percent completion rate
7.6 yards per attempt
97.7 passer rating
(*It is, admittedly, a minor stretch to compare these seasons to Brady’s in terms of apples-to-apples comparisons. That’s because Favre turned 41 in October of the 2010 season, while Moon and Testaverde turned 41 in November of their respective 41-year-old seasons. Brady, of course, turned 41 prior to the start of his age 41 season. But, well, if we don’t count those as age 41 seasons, then we really don’t have much in terms of comparison for Brady.)
Brady entered Sunday having already set himself up to have better stats in seven of those eight categories. And with a first-quarter touchdown pass to James White against the Jets, Brady set the record for touchdown passes by a 41-year-old. He added to that with touchdown passes to Rex Burkhead and Phillip Dorsett.
“I don’t too much about it,” Brady said after the 38-3 win over the Jets when asked about his sense of satisfaction for his accomplishments at age 41. “It just feels like I’m doing the same thing I’ve always done. … I just love being quarterback, I love playing here, and I love winning.”
Julian Edelman, who finished up his ninth season with Brady by catching five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown, shared some praise of his quarterback.
“He’s Tom Brady. So, everything he does, you’re kind of used to it, I guess. It’s weird,” Edelman said. “I’m pretty much used to it. But he’s Tom Brady, so, you know, unfortunately you’re kind of used to it. You don’t want to take it for granted, but what he does is just being TB.”
Of course, the standards for Brady are not often in line with the standards placed upon most quarterbacks. As arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, he’s generally expected to be the best, most consistent, and most victorious quarterback in the league every year, no matter what. And considering that he was coming off an MVP season last year, those expectations remained sky high entering the 2018 season.
Some may still ultimately be somewhat disappointed that Brady’s 2018 play did not match Brady’s 2017 play. But, well, age is real, and though Brady in 2018 may not have looked like peak Brady, he still looked like the best 40-plus-year-old quarterback in NFL history.