How Tom Brady Pitched a Perfect Game Against Lions

By Joe Kukura
|  Saturday, Nov 27, 2010  |  Updated 5:30 PM PDT
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How Tom Brady Pitched a Perfect Game Against Lions

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DETROIT - NOVEMBER 25: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots drops back to pass during the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 25, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. New England defeated Detroit 45-24. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

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For the second time in his pro career, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady scored the rare and notable accomplishment of a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating in the Patriots’ 45-24 win over the Detroit Lions.

But anybody who watched that game remembers that the Patriots kind of stunk the place up in the first half, and were at one point losing 14-3. How can a quarterback possibly have a “perfect game” if his team spends the majority of that game tied with or losing to the miserable and comical Detroit Lions?

The NFL quarterback rating is a byzantine and elaborate formula developed in 1971. Factors like completion percentage, yards-per-attempt, number of touchdowns, and number of interceptions are multiplied by certain static values, then added up and divided by six, then multiplied by 100. I swear to God I am not making this up.

Brady was 21-for-27 for 341 yards and four touchdowns in Thursday’s game. Yes, he had the six incompletions. But incompletions matter less in this formula the further the quarterback is throwing downfield.

Longer attempts help a passer rating, shorter attempts hurt it. You cannot dink and dunk your way to a perfect quarterback rating.

Completion percentage is another big factor. Brady completed 77.8% of his passes Thursday. Any quarterback who completes more than 77.5% is eligible for the perfect rating, regardless of whether his team is winning or losing.

Consider also that Brady had no interceptions, and that the Patriots scored a touchdown on every single possession in the second half. Brady was fantastically efficient not only at scoring, but also at minimizing the Lions’ opportunities to score.

Losing most of the afternoon to the massive underdog Detroit Lions might not have been a thing of beauty. But with Tom Brady’s efficiency and high completion percentage, it was, technically speaking, perfect.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who would be lucky to get through this holiday shopping season with a 158.3 credit rating.

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