“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
– Popularized by Mark Twain
Of all the crazy statistics I’ve seen, the Super Bowl passer ratings take the cake: Tom Brady, 95.2; Matt Ryan, 144.1.
The above ratings are the official passer rating formula that the NFL has used since 1979. There’s another and newer such formula out there, however, which is called the Total Quarterback Rating or QBR. The QBR for Brady was 79.6, just ahead of Ryan’s 79.2.
Maybe it’s time for the NFL to change its passer rating formula.
Before this Super Bowl, there was considerable GOAT talk about Brady – was he the greatest of all time? I’ve never before been willing to go that far, but count me in now as a convert.
Tom Terrific simply willed his team to victory in Super Bowl LI. With 8:31 left in the third quarter, Matt Ryan’s 6-yard pass to Tevin Coleman made the score 28-3. The Falcons never scored again, while the Patriots put 31 points on the board.
We could fault coach Bill Belichick when, with 2:06 left in the third quarter and the Patriots trailing 28-9 – which means by three scores – the Patriots opted for an onside kick. Even Belichick didn’t believe his troops could come back without desperate measures. Expected onside kicks like this one are successful only around 15 percent of the time.
This onside kick was a resounding failure. Stephen Goskowski, who had just bonked the extra point attempt off the goal post, kicked a dribbler straight ahead and he touched the ball with his leg just before it went the required 10 yards. The Falcons both made the recovery and got an added five penalty yards, so they started their drive only 41 yards from the Patriots’ end zone.
It turned out that such desperation wasn’t needed. Brady and crew had ample time to make up the deficit.
Here’s where the unraveling started – it will haunt Falcons fans forever. The Falcons, playing confidently and non-conservatively, went straight to the pass on first down, with Ryan hitting tight end Austin Hooper for nine yards. They were now in position for a 49-yard field goal.
Next play: Jake Matthews, Clay Matthews’ cousin, gets called for holding, on a no-gain running play. Still, the Falcons face only 2nd down and 11, but they are now just out of field goal range. After an incomplete pass, Kyle Van Noy sacks Ryan on third down – the third third-down sack of Ryan and once again he held onto the ball too long. Matthew Bosher makes a nice punt, Patrick Chung makes a tough over-the-shoulder catch, but great coverage causes Chung to lose a yard on the return. It’s now the first play of the fourth quarter and Brady takes over on his own 10-yard line, trailing by 19 points. The rest will go down in NFL history.
Looking back, that holding call looms large. The film shows it was a chippy call, a momentary tangling of the two players’ arms, no grabbing with the hands, and Dont’a Hightower wasn’t in a good position to make the tackle at any rate. It cost Atlanta a shot at a field goal which would have made the lead 22 points.
Brady’s final passing numbers were 43-of-62, 466 yards, a pick-6 interception, and two touchdowns. His receivers – James White (14 catches), Danny Amendola (8), Malcolm Mitchell (6), Julian Edelman (5), Martellus Bennett (5), and Chris Hogan (4) – with the exception of Bennett, wouldn’t make it into the starting lineup of most NFL teams.
Sure, you can argue Edelman, but the Patriots got him with a seventh round draft pick as a quarterback from Kent State. In his eight-year career, he’s never made All Pro or been selected to play in a Pro Bowl. The four-year contract he signed in 2014 – right after a 105-catch season – had a maximum value of only $19 million.
Edelman’s deal was full of incentives needed to reach that number, one of them even relating to the number of team wins. His salary cap numbers were $2.75 million, $4.25 million, $4.75 million in 2016, and $5.25 million in the upcoming year. Compare that with Randall Cobb’s four-year, $40 million deal. New England’s front office seems to be as smart as its coaching staff.
Getting back to Brady, he now has five rings. Is there any reason to believe he won’t get more?