With 9:26 remaining in the second quarter of their Week 13 game, the New England Patriots were on the Miami Dolphins 7-yard line. Brady lined up in shotgun with Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd to his right. Eight Dolphins defenders were moving around the line of scrimmage, indicating they might blitz.
Brady appeared to notice this, signaled to his receivers and then called for the snap. He hit Welker on a quick screen while the Dolphins sent seven pass rushers. They never stood a chance of getting to Brady because in 1.2 seconds he had thrown to Welker, who ran untouched into the end zone.
This is what Brady has done all year when facing added pressure. He gets the ball out of his hand before the blitz can get to him.
Brady has a 90.7 Total QBR when defenses send five or more pass rushers this season, second only to Robert Griffin III. Brady has thrown 15 touchdowns and has the most pass attempts (114) without an interception against extra pass rushers.
Why has Brady been so successful against the added pressure?
Let’s take a closer look.
Brady vs 5 or More Pass Rushers
Brady releases the ball against five or more pass rushers an average of 2.63 seconds after the snap, the fastest of any starting quarterback in the NFL.
Because of this, he has been sacked or under duress on 14 percent of dropbacks against extra pass rushers (or about one every seven dropbacks), the lowest rate in the league.
Sending added pressure is an important part of the Houston Texans’ defensive scheme.
Houston has sent five or more rushers on 44 percent of opponent dropbacks, the highest rate in the NFL. But they don’t necessarily need to sack Brady to disrupt New England’s quick passing game.
The Texans have batted 25 balls at the line of scrimmage this year, by far the most in the NFL and already more than any other defense in the last four seasons. J.J. Watt has batted or tipped 15 passes, five of which were intercepted by teammates.
To add perspective, the next closest team in the NFL entered the week with only three interceptions resulting from a tipped pass.
Most Passes Batted or Tipped
Entering This Week
Brady and the Patriots are well aware of the Texans’ propensity to disrupt passes at the line of scrimmage.
“Coach Belichick likes to bring guys with racquetball paddles and stick those up in the air,” Brady said at his press conference on Wednesday.
"It’s like throwing over this wall. It’s hard. You just have to try to find an area. We played other big d-lines before, tall guys that are rangy and are really instinctive – the Giants did a great job of that last year –- and this is another team that really challenges you to do that.”
It will be difficult to deal with the Texans’ extra pass rushers, but as long as Brady finds passing lanes and throws the ball quickly, the Texans will have a very hard time slowing down the potent Patriots passing game.