It isn’t easy to get a true feel for Tom Brady’s long and storied career. The sheer volume of games played is difficult to wrap your head around. With 21 years in the league, 18 seasons in the postseason and 44 postseason games played, he has almost three regular seasons of games played just in the playoffs.
The playoffs bring an extra something to every game that you aren’t going to find in the majority of regular season matchups, both for the offense and defense. Judging a player by his postseason statistics does make a lot of sense, and when you have 44 games played, the sample size is better than you’ll get from any player ever.
Let’s take a quick look at his per game averages for the regular season vs. the postseason.
22.5-for-35.2 (64%), 263.1 yards, 1.93 TDs, .63 INTs, 7.8 AY/A, 97.3 rate
24.7-for-39.4 (62.5%), 278.4 yards, 1.82 TDs, .86 INTs, 7.0 AY/A, 89.9 rate
The differences in these stats aren’t much. Playing tougher teams in the playoffs than the regular season likely hurt Brady’s average stats slightly, but overall, it’s a strong line. When thinking of greatest playoff quarterbacks of all time, Joe Montana sticks out with Brady. Let’s take a quick look at his averages for comparison in his 23 playoff appearances, albeit in a different era.
20-for-31.9 (62.7%), 251.1 yards, 1.96 TDs, .91 INTs, 7.8 AY/A, 95.6 rate
As you can see, the passing game wasn’t used as much back in the 80’s, but there’s no doubt that Montana kept up a strong average in his career. And if you take a look at other quarterbacks who played in 10+ playoff games like John Elway, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning, they don’t come that close these numbers.
This is of course subjective, but statistically, Brady’s best post season came in 2017, which ended in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the only postseason where he topped a 100 QB rating in all three games.
2017 playoff per game averages: 29.7-for-46.3 (64%), 377.3 yards, 2.67 TDs, 0 INTs, 9.3 AY/A, 108.6 rate
Brady has been one-and-done in the playoffs only three times in his 18 postseason runs. Two of those were in back-to-back seasons in 2009-10 and the other was last year in his last season with the Patriots. That last Patriots game was bad statistically, but the worst came in 2009 against the Baltimore Ravens in a 33-14 stomping. Brady and company had just nine first downs all game.
23-for-42 (54.8%), 154 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 1.4 AY/A, 49.1 rate
Worst Super Bowl run
With seven Super Bowl appearances, we can even take a look at his worst performance in the playoffs where the Patriots won the title. Early Brady wasn’t the force he would be later and in his very first Super Bowl run in 2001, Brady had just one touchdown pass to one interception in three games. He was very much a game manager, as he had a poor adjusted yards per attempt with just 5.6 and just 190 passing yards per game. In upsetting the Rams 20-17, he threw for 145 yards and one touchdown, as the defense led the way.
2001 playoff per game averages: 20-for-32.3 (61.9%), 190.7 yards, .33 TD, .33 INTs, 5.6 AY/A, 77.3 rate
Brady owns about every positive Super Bowl and playoff record when it comes to total numbers. Here are some of the more substantial records that look unbreakable, However, if Patrick Mahomes can stay healthy, he could make a run by the time he’s in his 40s as well.
Playoff games: 44 (Peyton Manning 27)
Playoff wins: 33 (Joe Montana 16)
Super Bowl appearances: 10 (John Elway 5)
Super Bowl wins: 6 (Joe Montana/Terry Bradshaw 4)
Playoff winning percentage: .750 (Joe Montana .696)
Passing yards: 12,248 (Peyton Manning 7,339)
Playoff touchdown passes: 80 (Joe Montana 45)