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Breaking down Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s Super Bowl performances by quarter

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The greatest quarterback of all time is money on the biggest stage, but how do his statistics look when broken down by quarter.

Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Tom Brady serves as the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback since 2001, and in the 17 injury-free seasons since led his team to nine Super Bowls — the latest taking place nine days ago: the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl 53 to capture the club’s and Brady’s sixth title. While his numbers were not outstanding, the veteran quarterback had a solid overall game and ultimately put his team in a position to pull away in the fourth quarter.

But when breaking down his Super Bowl performances by quarter, we can see that Brady — despite being the most clutch passer in league history — actually performed a bit more efficiently outside of the final period. Let’s take a deeper dive into the numbers.

First quarter

Quarter 1 Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Sacks
Quarter 1 Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Sacks
Totals 71 45 63.38 485 6.8 0 2 71.6 3
Averages 7.9 5.0 63.38 53.9 6.8 0.0 0.2 71.6 0.3

Even though they appeared in nine Super Bowls with Brady at the helm, the Patriots have yet to score a touchdown in the games’ combined first 135 minutes: a Stephen Gostkowski field goal in title game number 52 against the Philadelphia Eagles is all that New England’s first quarter Super Bowl résumé this century offers. One reason for the team’s uncharacteristically low point total is a pair of untimely mistakes made by Brady.

The future Hall of Famer threw interceptions against the Seattle Seahawks (Super Bowl 49) and Los Angeles Rams (Super Bowl 53) after the offense moved the football into field goal range both times. That being said, the Patriots are undefeated in Super Bowls when Brady throws first quarter interceptions so his two errors obviously did not hurt the team too much in the grand scheme of things.

Second quarter

Quarter 2 Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Sacks
Quarter 2 Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Sacks
Totals 111 74 66.67 859 7.7 7 1 107.2 6
Averages 12.3 8.2 66.67 95.4 7.7 0.8 0.1 107.2 0.7

When it comes to passer rating, Brady is at his best in the second quarter: in his nine Super Bowls, he accumulated a 107.2 rating after completing 66.7% of his pass attempts for a combined 859 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception between minutes 16 and 30. In short: he is outstanding right before halftime, and never was that more apparent than against the Seahawks in the 49th Super Bowl.

Back then, Brady completed 11 of 16 pass attempts for 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter — despite going against the NFL’s best pass defense.

Third quarter

Quarter 3 Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Sacks
Quarter 3 Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Sacks
Totals 80 52 65.00 573 7.2 5 1 101.7 2
Averages 8.9 5.8 65.00 63.7 7.2 0.6 0.1 101.7 0.2

With the exception of an interception thrown against the aforementioned Seahawks in February 2015, Brady is usually lights out coming out of Super Bowl halftime shows: completing 65% of his passes, the four-time MVP registers a 101.7 passer rating in third quarters. His total passing attempts are down again but that is dictated by situation more than anything else: the Patriots rarely go to hurry-up passing mode as early as the third period (or first for that matter).

Fourth quarter

Quarter 4 Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Sacks
Quarter 4 Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Sacks
Totals 125 81 64.80 871 7.0 6 2 94.5 7
Averages 13.9 9.0 64.80 96.8 7.0 0.7 0.2 94.5 0.8

In the fourth quarter of Super Bowls — as was mentioned above — Brady is not at his most efficient, at least when measured by his own lofty standards. His performance in the final 15 minutes is still outstanding, though, especially considering the high-pressure nature of the situation. Playing in close games in each of his nine appearances on football’s biggest stage, Brady delivered in every single one of the games.

Finding his best fourth quarter performance is like picking the best Beatles album: most of them are at an incredibly high level, with differences in taste as the deciding factor. Take Super Bowl 51 against the Atlanta Falcons, for example, when Brady went 16 of 21 for 196 yards and a touchdown as well as a successful two-point conversion pass. Or two years earlier, when he completed 13 of 15 pass attempts for 124 yards and a pair of scores against the Seahawks’ historically good Legion of Boom defense.

Overtime

Overtime Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Sacks
Overtime Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating Sacks
Totals 6 5 83.33 50 8.3 0 0 94.5 7

Fun fact: only one quarterback in the 53-edition history of the Super Bowl ever took snaps in an overtime period. That quarterback is, of course, Tom Brady who was outstanding in extra time against the Falcons two years ago. All in all, he completed five of his six pass attempts (a seventh fell incomplete because of defensive pass interference) and led New England down the field to score a game-winning touchdown. It was as marvelous a performance as you will ever see given the magnitude of the moment.

All in all, breaking down Brady’s Super Bowl performances by quarter illustrates one thing: no matter the brightness of the light, he is performing at an outstanding level.