The New England Patriots’ future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady put up one of the worst games of his career, statistically, on Sunday, in a Patriots 24-12 win over the Buffalo Bills. Brady is playing in his 19th NFL season at age 41. The Patriots clinched their record 10th consecutive division title in the AFC East, as NFL.com noted.
But Brady’s performance, and even his pre-game warmup routine, has set off speculation that the five-time Super Bowl winner is suffering through a knee injury that he is keeping a secret from the fans and media. In fact, in his press conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Sunday, Brady flatly denied that is hurting, according to USA Today.
“I feel great. 100 percent,” Brady said in the press conference, according to Boston’s Fox 25 sports anchor Tom Leyden, via Twitter. Brady also denied that he was surprised to be pulled from the game by Coach Bill Belichick with more than six minutes remaining in the game, to be replaced by backup signal-caller Brian Hoyer. Asked if he was replaced due to injury, Brady replied, “I’m not injured.”
But veteran Boston sports columnist Ryan Hannable, writing for the WEEI, insisted on Sunday following the Bills game that Brady is “not right.”
The Patriots relied heavily on the running game on Sunday, rushing for 273 yards — more than in any game ever started by Brady, according to ESPN.
But as Hannable noted in his column, Brad threw for only 126 yards, completing 13 of only 24 attempts, his lowest number of passes this season. His previous low was 26 in a Week 3 loss to the Detroit Lions, according to Pro Football Reference. Otherwise, Brady has attempted at least 31 passes in every game in 2018. In fact, his season high also came against the Bills on October 29, when Brady threw 45 times, completing 29 for 324 yards.
“Something has seemed off with Tom Brady the last few weeks. It began at the end of the first half in Miami three weeks ago when after a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski, he dropped to the ground on the field and adjusted his knee brace appearing to be in some pain,” Hannable wrote. “He chalked that up to an equipment issue, but he wasn’t the same after that in the game.”
As Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston noted on Twitter, Brady even appeared uncomfortable during his pre-game workout. Brady’s routine usually includes a jog for one end of the field to the other. But Brady “seriously cut off his pregame trot down the sideline. Not sure he even got to midfield. If you needed any more indication his knee is bothering him,” Perry wrote.