Stats are for losers — we know this. But some stats, when complemented by solid comparisons, are hard to ignore.
In the case of Tom Brady, the man who built a legacy for delivering in crunch time, it his clutch stats (or lack thereof) that are particularly eye-catching.
As Jeremy Lundblad, an ESPN Stats and Information researcher, pointed out in great detail, the perception that Brady has struggled mightily late in close games can be backed up by stats.
Those stats show that Brady, in the fourth quarters of games in which the lead is seven points or fewer, has only been better than Matthew Stafford and Jake Delhomme since the start of 2009.
Again, that's Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford and Jake Delhomme.
Brady's passer rating in those situations is 44.5. Comparatively, Peyton Manning — aka the guy who used to trip over his own feet when under pressure — has the best mark in the NFL in those situations with a 132.5 rating.
The stats, to some extent, also tell you that where Brady goes, so go the Patriots. The best evidence is in the team's record when leading after halftime. As Lundblad explains, the Pats were 66-1 from 2002-08 in games that they lead at halftime. (That one loss was the game that Brady was treating like a flag football game and throwing passes from his butt down in Miami in 2004. )
Since then, though, the Pats are 9-5 in games they led at halftime, most recently spotlighted by their loss to the Jets last week.
The perception has been growing and the numbers are there to back it up, so as Lunblad asks in his story: Is the magic gone?
Perhaps, but it's just as likely a result of Brady and the Patriots coming back down to earth after playing out-of-this-world football for the better part of the decade. Still, the numbers represent a trend that Brady's going to have to reverse in order to get the Patriots back to what they spent so many years doing — winning.