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Super Bowl LIII quarterbacks: Tom Brady looks to add to bounty of accolades

A Patriots victory on Sunday would give the 41-year-old quarterback his record sixth Super Bowl championship, but if the the Rams' Jared Goff gets hot . . . ?

The Patriots' Tom Brady already has won more

The Patriots' Tom Brady already has won more Super Bowls (five) than any other quarterback in NFL history. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Maddie Meyer

Love him or hate him, there's no denying the remarkable accomplishments and rare talent possessed by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Super Bowl LIII on Sunday will be Brady's ninth appearance in the big game — three more than any other player. A victory over the Los Angeles Rams would be his sixth championship, making him the first to reach that milestone.

At 41 years old, Brady continues to defy conventions about age in pro football. In his 19th NFL season, his final regular-season numbers look virtually indistinguishable from any other year in the past decade. He surpassed 4,000 yards passing for the 10th time, completing 65.8 percent of his passes in the process.

Brady insists he will continue to play beyond this weekend and return next year, regardless of the result. If he does, he figures to finish 2019 as second all-time in completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns. 

Although his 2018 interception total (11) was its highest since 2013, it still was lower than 14 other QBs. It's not as if the bulk of his picked off throws cost New England victories, either. On the contrary, Brady's interception ratio was lower in the Pats' five losses (1.1 percent) than in 11 regular-season victories (2.3 percent).

But cracks in the facade may be forming. While he leads the current postseason in passing yards (691 in two games) and is completing 71.1 percent of his passes, only two of his 90 pass attempts have been touchdowns. That matches his interception total in January, as he was picked off twice by the Kansas City Chiefs in the overtime AFC Championship victory. By contrast, the Patriots have scored eight rushing touchdowns in these playoffs.

These numbers aren't remotely dismal, but they're a far cry from a year ago when Brady went without an interception on 139 attempts over three games, and tossed eight TD passes.

Brady's counterpart on the Rams, Jared Goff, may not be able to compete with the resume and experience of the Patriots' future Hall of Famer — who could? — but he's far from a bum.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Goff has come a long way from his injury-shortened rookie year in which he went 0-7 as a starter. Coinciding with the 2017 arrival of head coach Sean McVay, Goff's numbers are up across the board. This season, he posted career highs in completion percentage (64.9), passing yards (4,688) and touchdown passes (32). He also engineered four game-winning drives, compared with just one over his first two seasons in Los Angeles.

When Goff is on, he's really on. During a three-game September stretch in which he led the Rams to wins over the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota Vikings, he completed 78.2 percent of his passes while connecting on nine touchdown passes, with just two interceptions. He posted three games of at least four touchdown passes and no picks, most recently in the regular-season finale.

But Goff, like many young quarterbacks, has his off days. He was downright ugly against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 9, throwing four interceptions and failing to find the end zone on any of his 44 pass attempts in a 15-6 loss. 

The third-year pro hasn't been much of a difference-maker in the playoffs, either. His postseason completion percentage of 58.8 leaves much to be desired. He managed to guide the Rams past the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Round without completing a touchdown pass, instead riding a dominant effort by his running backs, Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson.

Goff's 2018 performance and pedigree suggest he's capable of a breakout effort in the Super Bowl, but he must elevate his level of play above what he showed in January to do so.

Super Bowl LIII quarterbacks by the numbers

Includes 2018 regular-season and postseason stats 

Tom Brady (Patriots)
NFL seasons: 19
Games: 18
Completion percentage: 66.5
Passing yards per game: 280.3
Passing TDs: 31
Interceptions: 13
Passer rating: 96.8
Carries: 26
Rushing yards per game: 1.3
Rushing TDs: 2

Jared Goff (Rams)
NFL seasons: 3
Games: 18
Completion percentage: 64.2
Passing yards per game: 287.3
Passing TDs: 33
Interceptions: 13
Passer rating: 98.7
Carries: 52
Rushing yards per game: 2.5
Rushing TDs: 2

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