There’s been a theory running around for years that the New England Patriots have stopped winning Super Bowls the moment they stopped becoming a team with a good quarterback into Tom Brady the superstar and his group of teammates. His 0 touchdown performance in the playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts and the team’s record with him in games when he doesn’t throw touchdown passes proves the same point.
In general, not having your quarterback throw any touchdown passes is bad, but the Patriots are 4-0 in the postseason when Brady doesn’t hit any of his receivers with a touchdown pass. Two games happened in the same playoff run when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl, which isn’t that surprising considering that the early Belichick teams were the epitome of Brady keeping it very simple while an excellent defense and running game, not to mention a legendary kicker, do the rest.
The first time it happened was in the famous 16-13 win over the Oakland Raiders. Brady did throw the ball 52 times, but finished with 0 touchdowns and an interception, which moved the Patriots to the conference championship to play the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Brady was 12-of-18, finishing with 115 passing yards. The Patriots won that game 24-17. Brady was injured in that game with Drew Bledsoe taking over.
The next time the Patriots won a playoff game without Brady throwing any touchdown passes happened 10 years later, beating the Baltimore Ravens in an ugly 23-20 win at home in the conference championship game. Brady threw 2 interceptions, completing 61% of his passes for 239 yards. It was mostly about the Ravens missing kicks than anything else, but a win is a win.
This weekend was the latest chapter, as Brady completed only 13-of-25 passes, settling most of the time for handing off the ball to LeGarrette Blount and beating the Indianapolis Colts 43-22.
Mostly, this is another example of using stats to rationalize a theory that might or might not have anything to do with the numbers. What is somethign that’s been proven over the years is that teams that have complete reliance on a quarterback’s ability, like the Colts under Peyton Manning, constantly underachieve. The Patriots finished this season at 12-4 despite Brady being less than spectacular, and possibly moving away from relying solely on his passing ability has been actually beneficial for them.