That phrase has become conventional wisdom over the last few seasons as Brady’s statistics on deep throws have declined. In 2013, he connected on 46% of throws 11-20 yards, 22% of passes 21-30 yards, and at a 25% clip on bombs more than 31 yards downfield. But maybe the problem wasn’t Brady.
Early in the 3rd quarter in Buffalo, Tom Brady connected with Brian Tyms on perfect a 43-yard touchdown pass to stake New England to a 19-7 lead. On this 1st and 10 play the Patriot quarterback sets up under center using 12 personnel. The offense employs a tight slot formation to each side of the field, with Tyms on the outside to the left:
Buffalo’s base defense is on the field, showing Cover 4 in the secondary. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is tight on the line of scrimmage showing press coverage on Tyms. As the play develops the Patriots execute a play action fake to Stevan Ridley, which works to focus free safety Corey Graham’s eyes in the offensive backfield. This angle shows the impact of the play action fake on Graham, a converted cornerback pressed into playing free safety after Aaron Williams was injured in practice:
This play is reminiscent of another great deep throw from Brady against Pittsburgh in 2007, when he and Randy Moss connected to silence young safety Anthony “Guaranteed Win” Smith. In yesterday’s game, notice how the fake enticed the defender in toward the line of scrimmage, leaving him out of position to help on the deep route. While Graham is being drawn in by that deception, Tyms is simply accelerating past Gilmore who is on the outside. As the pieces are assembled this touchdown becomes a work of art:
Brady delivers a beautiful spiral downfield that drops right into Tyms’ outstretched arms. Graham is late in providing help because of the play action, and neither defender can separate Tyms from the ball. A deep throw into double coverage is risky but when a perfectly executed play design, throw, route and catch come together, it is simply a thing of beauty. With Tyms, the Patriots and Tom Brady have themselves a new weapon in their arsenal. This play highlights that maybe conventional wisdom needs to be re-thought ‒ Tom Brady can throw dee
Note: The All-22 footage for this game was unavailable at press time. In reviewing that film after publication, Mark determined that the Bills had used Cover 4, not Cover 1 as previously reported. So we’ve edited the piece accordingly — proving once again that it’s never too late for accuracy.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkSchofield.