New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will never be confused for the player lining up for his divisional round opponent, Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. Brady is certainly mobile in the pocket, but no team is afraid of his production outside of it.
And yet Brady has plenty of value as a runner in short yardage. Over the past 20 seasons, only Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (86.8%) has converted a higher rate of short-yardage opportunities than Brady (83.7%; min. 100 attempts needing 1 yard for a first down or a score), which means that Brady picks the perfect time to run the ball up the middle. He has converted six of his seven attempts in 2017.
It is this short-yardage success that makes the fact Brady hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown since 2015 even more interesting.
Brady has 23 rushing touchdowns (regular and postseason) since he became the Patriots starter in 2001 and he’s only had two full years without a rushing score: 2006 and 2016.
There have been four times where Brady failed to score a rushing touchdown in the regular season, but generated one in the playoffs: 2001, 2004, 2013, and 2014.
The last time Brady scored a rushing touchdown was against the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the 2015-16 playoffs. 31 games later and Brady hasn’t made his way back to the end zone.
Curiously, Brady only really started to play on the goal line after his ACL injury in 2008. Prior to that injury from 2001-07, Brady only carried the ball on the 1-yard line twice. That’s not a typo; he carried it once against the Jets in 2003 and once against the Colts in 2004-05 playoffs. He scored a touchdown on both attempts.
From 2009-15, Brady carried the ball on the 1-yard line 23 times, scoring 12 touchdowns.
Brady’s attempts haven’t been so fruitful in recent years. He converted all four of his attempts in 2015, but failed on all five of his attempts in 2013, 2014, and 2016, with two fumbles.
Brady’s lack of opportunities the past two seasons makes sense due to his advanced age; there’s no need to put needless hits on his body when LeGarrette Blount is leading the league in touchdowns and Dion Lewis is one of the most dynamic players in the entire league. But with Mike Gillislee dealing with a knee injury and Rex Burkhead in and out of the lineup, perhaps Brady could show up as the short yardage back on the goal line.