Tom Brady’s departure from New England signaled the end of an era.
The former sixth-round draft pick rose from a back-up to become the greatest to ever throw the football. After replacing an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001, Brady would carve his name in NFL history with an incredible six Super Bowl rings and four Super Bowl MVP awards. But after he announced on social media earlier this year that his “football journey will take place elsewhere” in 2020, that two-decade reign is over. Brady ended up signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots are left to move on without him.
Let’s take a look at Tom Brady’s 20 years in New England via the best games he played for the Patriots:
Super Bowl XXXVIII vs Panthers
This goes down in history as one of the best and most thrilling Super Bowls of all-time and it’s not because of Janet Jackson’s breast exposure.
The Carolina Panthers were making their first Super Bowl appearance after an 11-5 season. The New England Patriots were looking for their second title in three years after a 14-2 season. Neither team could score in the first and third quarters while the teams went scoreless for a Super Bowl record 26:55 before finishing with a halftime score of 14-10.
The teams combined for a record 37 fourth-quarter points and after a slow first half, Tom Brady finished with 354 passing yards on 32-48 passing with three touchdowns and one interception.
The Patriots won 32-29 with Brady leading the game-winning drive that ended in a 41-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri with four seconds left in the game. Brady went home with his second Super Bowl MVP award.
2006 Divisional Round vs Chargers
The 2006 Divisional Round playoff game between the Patriots and Chargers was an example of how good the Patriots were with Brady and Belichick, especially when it mattered most. New England rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 8:35 of the game to beat the Chargers 24-21.
Tom Brady could not find his rhythm in the first half and worse, he had a mediocre receiving corps led by Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell. The Patriots were up against league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and Vincent Jackson.
But in the second half, Captain Comeback delivered another come-from-behind win and showed what he could do even with unimpressive weapons around him. Brady threw for only 177 yards in the second half and he was just 18-32 with three interceptions. But he continued to improvise and make the important plays that would eventually lead to the Patriots’ victory.
2014 AFC Divisional Round vs Ravens
This stands as one of the Patriots’ greatest games. New England was 1-2 against the Ravens in the playoffs heading to this game with their win coming by the slimmest of margins. New England had the home field advantage because of their 12-4 record.
New England started slow and fell behind early. After just 10 minutes of play, the Patriots were already down by 14 points. A four-yard run by Brady cut the lead to seven and his 15-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola completed a 10-play drive that tied the game. The Pats trailed by 14 again in the second half but Brady rallied them again to tie the score at 28 apiece.
With five minutes left in the game, Brady completed another comeback with a 23-yard TD pass to LaFell, helping New England advance to the AFC title game.
Brady would finish the game with 367 passing yards on 33 completions. He threw for three touchdowns and rushed for one. Two games later, New England ended their title drought with a 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
2018 AFC title game vs Chiefs
The first matchup between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes was an instant classic and it was one of the best games of 2018. The Patriots outgained the Chiefs 524-290 in total yards but after a wild fourth quarter, they needed overtime to put away the future Super Bowl champions.
New England went up early as they scored 14 points in the first half while limiting Kansas City to 32 total yards and preventing them to score in the first two quarters. However, Mahomes would lead the Chiefs to a 31-17 comeback in the second half to force an overtime period.
In the overtime, the Patriots won the coin toss and drove 75 yards in 13 plays to score the game-winning touchdown- a two-yard run by Rex Burkhead. Brady completed 30 out of 46 passes for a total of 348 yards with two interceptions. He engineered the game-winning drive that sent the Patriots to Super Bowl LIII.
Super Bowl XXXVI vs Rams
The first time is always one of the best. The New England Patriots had never won any kind of league championship before and this was their first Super Bowl victory. The Rams meanwhile were making their third Super Bowl appearance and second in the last three years.
Brady took over the starting quarterback role after Drew Bledsoe suffered a sheared blood vessel in a game against the Jets. Brady threw only three passes in the previous season but he showed grit after leading New England to an 11-5 record.
Brady didn’t have an exceptional Super Bowl, as he passed for only 145 yards with 16 completions and just one touchdown. But this was where it all began.
Given the limited talent he had on his team and his inexperience at the highest stage, this was where the legend was born. He would go on to lead the Patriots to five more Super Bowl titles, making the Patriots the best team in the league in the past two decades.
Super Bowl XLIX vs Seahawks
NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX remains the most-watched program in the history of the network and the most-watched TV program in the history of American television with an average of 114.4M viewers including a peak of 120.8M viewers during the Patriots’ fourth-quarter comeback.
The game was competitive throughout with the teams ending the first half in a 14-14 tie. The defending champions Seahawks threatened to pull away as they took a 10-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter. But as we’ve seen before, Tom Brady engineered a comeback that gave the Patriots a 28-24 lead with two minutes left to play. Seattle drove to the New England one-yard line but New England’s undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass to seal the win, New England’s 4th Super Bowl triumph.
Brady would earn MVP honors after completing a Super Bowl record 37 passes on 50 attempts for 328 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. This was New England’s first title in 10 years ad it began another winning stretch for Brady and Belichick.
Super Bowl LI vs Falcons
Tom Brady’s career is full of comebacks but this one was one for the ages and in my opinion, it is Tom Brady’s greatest game as a New England Patriots. This game between the Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons is also known as the 28-3 game because that was the score at the midway mark of the third quarter when Tom Brady re-appeared as Captain Comeback.
From that score, the Patriots scored 25 straight points to send the game to an overtime period. New England won the coin toss, received the kickoff and marched 75 yards to win the game 34-28 on a two-yard touchdown run by James White.
When the game ended, 30 team and individual Super Bowl records were either broken or tied, including the biggest blown lead in Super Bowl history.
Tom Brady had one of his best games ever as he set Super Bowl records for completions (43), pass attempts (62), and passing yards (466). He also earned a record fourth Super Bowl MVP award and a fifth Super Bowl ring which solidified his claim as the greatest quarterback ever in the history of the NFL.