When a quarterback throws a lot of passes in a game, it usually means his team is losing. Tom Brady is different.
In Brady’s NFL career, he has thrown 50 or more passes a total of 28 times, including both regular season and postseason games, through Saturday’s 53-pass game against the Titans. That’s by far the most for any quarterback in NFL history, but that’s not what really sets Brady apart.
What really sets Brady apart is that the Patriots’ record when he throws 50 or more passes is 19-9. No other quarterback in NFL history has come close to that kind of success when passing a lot.
Drew Brees is second in NFL history, throwing 50 or more passes in 19 games. His teams’ record in those games is 4-15.
Peyton Manning is third in NFL history, with 50 or more passes in 17 games. His teams’ record in those games is 4-13.
Dan Marino is fourth in NFL history with 16 games of 50 passes or more. His teams’ record in those games was 5-11.
Brady has won six postseason games when throwing 50 or more passes. No other quarterback in NFL history has won more than once when throwing 50 or more passes in the postseason.
Brady has won 13 regular-season games when throwing 50 or more passes passes. No other quarterback in NFL history has won more than five games when throwing 50 or more passes in the regular season.
The reason for all this is that most teams only throw a lot of passes when they’re way behind and are trying to catch up. For every other quarterback in NFL history, that dramatically skews the stats, so that high passing totals usually come in losing efforts.
But Brady and Bill Belichick are different: If passing a lot is working, they’ll keep doing it. That was on display Saturday against the Titans, who have a good run defense but a bad pass defense. The Patriots were successful throwing the ball, so they kept throwing the ball. Brady’s last pass of the game came with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Patriots leading 35-7. Most teams don’t pass in that situation, but Brady and Belichick do.
On Sunday against the Jaguars, the Patriots are unlikely to repeat that strategy, because the Jaguars have a good pass defense and a bad run defense. But if passing is working for the Patriots they’ll do it, even 50 times a game, even with a big lead.