Tom Brady's 2011 NFL Season: Breaking Down Every Game

Mike StangerCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2011

Tom Brady's 2011 NFL Season: Breaking Down Every Game

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    How do you judge a master?

    Having me grade Tom Brady's season is like having a part-time art instructor at a community college grade Michelangelo's work on the Sistine Chapel.

    However, lack of true credentials never stops me from having an opinion.

    Therefore, I have taken the time to look over Mr. Brady's performance for the season and decided to give my unsolicited critique of his work.

Week 1: Miami Dolphins

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    Miami was the perfect place for this game because Brady was "en fuego." 

    Looking in mid-season form, Brady torched the Dolphins for 517 yards and four touchdown passes. He surgically dissected the 'Fins, making the game of football look much too easy, hitting eight different receivers on the night.

    His only flaw of the night was a tipped-pass interception.

    His bid for league MVP was underway.

    Stat line: 32/48, 517 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT

    Grade: A+

Week 2: San Diego Chargers

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    Brady followed the Miami game by throwing for "only" 417 yards against the San Diego Chargers. He completed 70-percent of his passes and found the endzone three times.

    He was a little stingier with the ball in this game, tossing to seven different receivers. He did include his old BFF Deion Branch, who caught eight passes for 129 yards.

    It was in this game that Brady renewed his love affair with Rob Gronkowski, hitting the big guy for two touchdowns.

    Even Chad Ochocinco caught two passes in this game.

    Stat line: 21/30, 417 yards, 3 TD

    Grade: A+

Week 3: Buffalo Bills

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    Usually, there is at least one nightmare game per season for even the great players, and this game against the Buffalo Bills was it for Brady.

    That being said, Brady wasn't completely awful in this game.

    He still threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns, including two to Welker, who had a monster game with 217 yards receiving.

    However, the four interceptions, including a tipped pass that was returned by Drayton Florence for a touchdown, dampened the positives.

    Stat line: 30/45, 387 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT

    Grade: B-

Week 4: Oakland Raiders

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    Against the Oakland Raiders, Brady really didn't need to do much.

    The Pats ran for 183 yards, giving Brady the rare opportunity to play second fiddle.

    Perhaps not being in the spotlight threw off his timing, as he barely hit 50-percent of his passes.

    Still, he threw two touchdown passes and hit seven different receivers, including Welker nine times for 158 yard and a touchdown.

    Stat line: 16/30, 226 yards, 2 TD

    Grade: B

Week 5: New York Jets

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    In the Pats first game against the New York Jets, Brady was efficient, if not spectacular.

    He hit eight different receivers, including a nice 73-yard completion to Welker.

    Stat line: 24/33, 321 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

    Grade: B

Week 6: Dallas Cowboys

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    The game against the Dallas Cowboys was the beginning of a mini-streak of games where Brady struggled.

    Brady usually has some trouble against a Rob Ryan-led defense, and this game was no exception.

    However, great players aren't always great. They're just great when the need to be.

    This was one of those moments for Brady.

    At the end of the game, Brady drove the Pats 80 yards down the field by completing eight of nine pass for 78 yards. The last completion was a touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez to win the game.

    Stat line: 27/41, 289 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT

    Grade: B+ (He earned the "plus" on the last drive of the game)

Week 7: Bye

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    Since there was a bye week, it gives me an opportunity to throw in a gratuitous shot of the Patriots' cheerleaders. 

    Enjoy!

Week 8: Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The headlines after this game said that the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense contained Brady.

    I beg to differ, to some degree—the Patriots' defense helped to contain Brady, too. 

    The Steelers had the ball for over 39 minutes in this game, which barely gave Brady the opportunity to do anything.

    Despite the disparity in the time of possession, Brady still had a chance to win the game in the end. But, he was stripped loose of the ball by Steeler Brett Keisel.

    Stat line: 24/35, 198 yards, 2 TD

    Grade: B- (He earned a "minus" because of the fumble at the end of the game)

Week 9: New York Giants

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    It was another up-and-down game for Brady, this time against the New York Giants.

    He had trouble completing passes, but still found seven different receivers, including Welker for nine receptions and Gronkowski for eight. 

    Brady also drove down the field in the final minutes, throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski with 1:36 left in the game.

    Apparently, it was too much to ask the defense to stop Manning and the Giants with that much time left on the clock.

    Stat line: 28/49, 342 yards, 2 TD

    Grade: B+

Week 10: New York Jets

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    In the second meeting of the season against the Jets, Brady came alive. 

    In front of a national audience, Brady torched the Jets for 329 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Gronkowski.

    There was even a confirmed Chad Ochocinco sighting—two receptions for 65 yards.

    Stat line: 26/39, 329 yards, 3 TD

    Grade: A

Week 11: Kansas City Chiefs

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    Brady and company struggled a bit in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs.

    However, Brady woke up in the second, pummeling the hapless Chiefs by throwing two touchdown passes to Gronkowski.

    Still, it's hard to grade too highly when only one offense played in this game.

    Stat line: 15/27, 234 yards, 2 TD

    Grade: B

Week 12: Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Patriots spotted the Philadelphia Eagles 10 points before roaring back for the victory.

    Brady humiliated the supposed "Dream Team" by using only four receivers the entire game—Branch, Welker, Gronkowski and Hernandez.

    In a rarity, Brady was actually removed from the game in the fourth quarter due to a Patriots' blowout.

    Stat line: 24/34, 361 yards, 3 TD

    Grade: A

Week 13: Indianapolis Colts

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    This game was supposed to be another Brady versus Peyton Manning prize fight.

    Instead, it was the Brady versus Dan Orlovsky mismatch.

    Honestly, this game was over at the opening kickoff. Ever the competitor, Brady would not let his team have a letdown, though. The Pats had a nice 31-3 lead going into the fourth quarter before the defense forgot how to play.

    Stat line: 29/38, 289 yards, 2 TD

    Grade: A- (The "minus" is because this performance was against the Colts)

Week 14: Washington Redskins

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    The game against the Washington Redskins will be remembered mostly for the spat between Brady and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.

    O'Brien took umbrage to Brady getting on Tiquan Underwood after an interception in the endzone.

    Brady showed his professionalism by taking responsibility and apologizing after the game.

    Oh, and there was a game.

    Brady played fairly well, despite the lone interception. One almost got the sense in this game that Brady felt he had to do it all to cover for the defense, which is probably why he threw the bad pass in the end zone.

    Stat line: 22/37, 357 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT

    Grade: A-

Week 15: Denver Broncos

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    Tebow, Tebow, Tebow.

    That’s all anyone heard before the Patriots played the Denver Broncos. Tim Tebow was on the nation’s mind.

    During the game, Brady gave us a whack on our collective head, reminding us that it’s his world and we’re just living in it.

    He carved up the Broncos’ defense for big chunks and, in the process, showed Tebow how to play quarterback in the NFL.

    For the day, Brady hit eight different receivers, including Aaron Hernandez nine times for 129 yards and a touchdown.

    Stat line: 23/34, 320 yards, 2 TD

    Grade: A

Week 16: Miami Dolphins

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    Some say the logo on the Patriots’ helmet looks like Elvis Presley.  In the game against the Miami Dolphins, Brady looked like two versions of “The King.”

    In the first half, he resembled the bloated, dead-on-the-toilet version, misfiring on several passes and looking a bit constipated.

    Invariably, Brady finds a way to win and in the second half, he donned his black leather outfit and took the field like Elvis did on The Ed Sullivan Show.

    He tossed a touchdown pass and shook his hips for two rushing touchdown as the Patriots came back from a 17-0 deficit to win 27-24.

    Stat line: 27/46, 304, 1 TD, 2 rushing TD

    Grade: B+

Coda

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    In many ways, Tom Brady is a victim of his own success.

    For most quarterbacks, a season like Brady’s would be the ultimate career year. His stats up to this point are amazing—4,897 yards, 36 TD, 11 INT, 105.1 QB rating—and he still has one game remaining.

    Brady is held to a different standard, however, and must be graded as such.

    Therefore, because of a couple of warts this season—namely the first game against the Buffalo Bills—I can’t give him a perfect grade for this season.

    Season grade: A