Advanced look: How Brady bested Flacco

On the surface it may appear Joe Flacco outplayed Tom Brady on Sunday at Foxboro, but a deeper look shows this simply is not true.


Joe Flacco: 22-36, 306 yards, 2 TD, INT, 95.4 NFL passer rating

Tom Brady: 22-36, 239 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, 57.5 NFL passer rating


Sacks are a big thing missing from the common stats for quarterbacks. Flacco took three sacks, all on third down, twice with blitzers coming, which is when a quarterback needs to make a quick read and throw. Brady was sacked once. And it happened when only four rushers were coming, which is more on his offensive line.


Joe Flacco: 1 INT

Tom Brady: 2 INT


There are interceptions that hurt and there are interceptions that really hurt. Flacco’s pick came when down three, midway through the fourth quarter, when the Baltimore Ravens were in Patriot territory and led to the New England Patriots having the ball at midfield. Brady’s first pick was early in the game when up three and left the Ravens at their own 30. His second one was a 50 yard heave into the endzone that got tipped and returned to the Ravens’ own 38.

Flacco threw his lone pick down three, midway through the 4th quarter. From an expected points view this play cost the Ravens 4.3 points, the second-worst interception of the playoffs. From a win probability standpoint this sent Baltimore’s win probability from 43.2% to 23.0%, the second biggest swing on an interception this postseason. At the time of the interception, Flacco’s QBR was 79.4. After the pick it fell to 55.4.

After dividing blame, Flacco’s one inteception cost his team more than Brady’s two combined.

Tom Brady


Joe Flacco


Along the same lines, Flacco was the much more volatile quarterback. After dividing the appropriate amount of QB credit for each play in the game, Joe Flacco had five of the six worst QB plays in the game AND five of the six best QB plays.

Another important point to make is that Flacco’s QBR did go up on the final drive. If Baltimore would have converted the last drive for a touchdown Flacco likely would have had a better QBR than Brady. Unfortunately for Ravens fans, they didn’t, and Flacco finished behind Brady literally and figuratively.

Overall, 24 of Brady’s 45 action plays increased the Patriots chance of scoring as he finished with a 66.5 Total QBR. For Flacco, 23 of his 46 action plays increased the Ravens chance of scoring as he finished with a 45.6 Total QBR. A slight difference to be sure, but it was Brady who was slightly better than Flacco on Sunday.