By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — It’s one thing to simply exist and survive in the NFL at the age of 44. It’s a whole other thing to actually thrive.
And through 11 weeks of the NFL season, 44-year-old Tom Brady is thriving.
He and his Bucs got back on track on Monday night, beating the Giants 30-10 in a game that was never really close. Brady started the game completing 10 of his first 10 passes, and he finished completing 30 of his 46 passes for 307 yards with two touchdowns and one interception — a pass which bounced off Mike Evans’ shoulder pad on a quick pass to the outside.
It wasn’t the most dominant Brady performance of all time, but consider this: Through 11 weeks of the NFL season, Tom Brady leads the league in touchdown passes. And he does so by a somewhat comfortable margin.
With the two touchdowns on Monday, Brady is now up to 29 on the year.
If you’re interested how that compares to the rest of his career, it has him on pace to throw 46 touchdowns over a 16-game schedule, which would be the second-highest total of his life. With the 17th game, though, he certainly has the chance to match or top 50, the mark he set when he was at the peak of his powers back in 2007.
Despite playing one fewer game, Brady has four more touchdowns than Patrick Mahomes, who’s second in the league with 25 TDs. Brady has also thrown just eight interceptions, compared to Mahomes’ 11.
NFL LEADERS, TOUCHDOWN PASSES (Through Week 11)
1. Tom Brady, 29
2. Patrick Mahomes, 25
3. Matthew Stafford, 24
4. Justin Herbert, 22
5. Aaron Rodgers, 21
5. Kirk Cousins, 21
5. Joe Burrow, 21
5. Josh Allen, 21
Brady’s also just behind Mahomes in the NFL lead for passing yards; Mahomes has 3,200 in 11 games played, while Brady has 3,177 in 10 games played.
NFL LEADERS, PASSING YARDS (Through Week 11)
1. Patrick Mahomes, 3,200
2. Tom Brady, 3,177
3. Derek Carr, 3,041
4. Matthew Stafford, 3,014
5. Justin Herbert, 2,927
It’s kind of a preposterous story, this 44-year-old sitting atop or near the top of the NFL’s passing leaderboards on Thanksgiving week, but Brady’s made it somewhat normal, to the point where it’s not viewed quite as remarkable as it probably should be.
In terms of things Brady is doing that does come off as surprising, well, the man did this on Monday night:
TOM IS HYPED. #GoBucs
— NFL (@NFL) November 23, 2021
It was, technically, only a 10-yard run. But for a non-mobile QB who, again, is 44 years old, it’s rather insane that Brady was able to pull off that scramble.
Vinny Testaverde did run for 16 yards during garbage time of a loss five days after his 44th birthday. Which is pretty good, too.
The other three QBs who tried to play at age 44 (Steve DeBerg, Warren Moon, George Blanda) combined for negative-8 rushing yards.
Only 4 guys tried to play at age 44. Didn't go well for them.
Tom Brady, 2021
3,177 yards, 7.5 Y/A
29 TDs, 8 INTs
Blanda, Moon, Testaverde, DeBerg (combined)
1,907 yards, 5.9 Y/A
13 TDs, 14 INTs
— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) November 23, 2021
This particular run gave the Bucs a first down on what ended up being a field goal drive, and it upped Brady’s rushing yard total to 51 on the year — already his highest since 2016.
Yet while he’s obviously run for a few chunk gains in his career, he might not have ever done it in that particular fashion, breaking a would-be tackle from linebacker Tae Crowder without missing a step.
After incorrectly correcting a reporter on the distance of the run — the reporter correctly called it a 10-yard run, but Brady came back by saying it was an 11-yard run — Brady was asked if he could recall the last time he high-stepped his way out of a tackle.
“Yeah, it’s been forever. Probably never,” Brady said. “Probably never, that’s not my, that’s not what I do. But good to have it come up, so good. Hopefully I can do that again next week.”
It likely won’t come up next week. Or the week after that. Just playing the odds on that one.
It also may not quite live on in Brady lore like his open-field juke on Brian Urlacher in 2006. But again, to reiterate … he’s 44 years old. None of this is normal.
Rob Gronkowski, who returned to the field Monday after a lengthy injury absence, said that he was actually open on the play while running up the seam. But once he realized he wasn’t getting the ball, he was able to take in the spectacle.
“I was like, ‘Man, that’s pretty dope,'” Gronkowski said. “He got a first down, that’s what we needed, so that was a good play by him. It’s cool to see him run, you know, whatever, 44 years old and he’s running around getting first downs. That’s pretty impressive.”