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Friday, December 17, 2010
Does Tom Brady run up the score?

By Tim Graham

Tom Brady is the NFL's version of Prince Caspian, the dashing hero with the cleft chin and flowing mane. He valiantly slays New England Patriots foes.

A deeper look at the stats shows Brady also can be Vlad the Impaler.

Brady
Tom Brady continued to play against the Bears even though the Patriots already had a commanding lead.
Brady isn't bashful about getting medieval against overmatched opponents. Some would call it a killer instinct. Others might call it mercilessly running up the score.

Football Outsiders executive editor Bill Barnwell examined how much Brady accumulates stats in out-of-hand games. Brady rarely comes out in the fourth quarter and continues to throw when he feels it's necessary.

Barnwell found his research to be inconclusive. He determined 16.6 percent of Brady's attempts and 17.7 percent of his yardage came in garbage time (defined as up by at least 18 points any time in the second half or 14 points in the fourth quarter).

The league average for quarterbacks with a minimum 200 throws is 12.4 percent attempts and 12.2 percent yardage in garbage time. Barnwell noted other top NFL quarterbacks such as Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers have gone below the league average numbers in these situations.

So there's a case to be made, just not a persuasive one based on that criteria.

The most interesting numbers pertaining to Brady's production with a commanding lead came from the "You Can't Play Here" blog via the top-notch Indianapolis Colts fan site 18to88.com.

I asked for verification of the numbers from the Elias Sports Bureau, and with two minor tweaks, here are the official lists ...

Most career touchdowns ahead by at least 17 points:
Most career touchdowns while up at least 28 points:
Most career touchdowns while up at least 28 points in the fourth quarter:
Should numbers like these belittle Brady's accomplishments? I don't believe they should. He always has been judged more on his championships than his statistics anyway.

Besides, this is the NFL, and if teams have a problem with getting rolled, then they should find a way to stop it.

But the numbers certainly are worthy of debate. What do you think?