Not many football fans thought there would be a time where Tom Brady would not play in an NFL game without a Patriots uniform. But, when the future Hall of Famer announced on social media that his “football journey will take place elsewhere” in 2020, the thought became a reality.
As a result, everything turned to the past tense. Like, remember when Brady did that when he was with the Patriots? Or, I can’t believe Brady pulled that off a few years before he left the Patriots to finish his career with a different team.
Similarly, Patriots fans are now forced to reminisce about Brady’s achievements with a bittersweet taste left in their mouths, looking back at a dynasty that may have seen its end with the six-time Super Bowl champion’s departure.
To help paint a clearer picture for those fans looking to put those thoughts in a unique part of their memory bank and move on to greener pastures, it’s time to break down Brady’s best games under center for the Patriots.
10. 2007 vs. Dolphins in Miami
Surprisingly, starting off this list is a place that Brady likely hated playing in the most. But, Brady was on fire with the Patriots offense in 2007, and the heat didn’t bother him, Randy Moss or Wes Welker when the red, white and blue rolled into then-Dolphin Stadium.
In a 49-28 rout, Brady went 21-for-25 with 354 yards and six touchdowns, five of which came in the first half. It was a true sign of what was to come through the rest of the 2007 season, as the Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season en route to a Super Bowl appearance against the Giants.
9. Super Bowl XXXVIII vs. Panthers
You would think, when talking about a quarterback with six Super Bowl wins, that a list of the player’s best games would have those six games consecutively at the top of the list. But, some of Brady’s Super Bowl wins are omitted from this list, and one of his losses finds a spot elsewhere.
In this case, the first Super Bowl to appear on this list of Brady’s top 10 games is the Patriots’ win against the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
The game’s first half won’t be showing up on any of Brady’s highlight reels, but the second half showcased the resiliency of the Patriots offense with the Michigan man under center, and his ability to turn on the talent when it mattered the most.
Brady earned his second Super Bowl MVP honors in the 32-29 win, finishing 32-for-48 with 354 yards and three touchdown passes. He threw one of those three to give the Patriots the lead with 2:51 to go in the fourth quarter, and capped off his MVP performance by driving the offense down the field before Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal as time expired.
It helped solidify Brady’s presence in the league’s quarterback ranks, and started a snowball effect that would last for decades to come.
8. 2009 vs. Titans
An underrated gem in his career, Brady outdid himself when he lit up the Titans in a rare snow-filled October game at Gillette Stadium in 2009.
In his first season back after tearing his ACL in 2008, Brady returned to form with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and company as he threw five touchdown passes in one quarter, setting an NFL record in the process.
It’s known as Brady’s “near-perfect game,” as he went 29-for-34 in the 59-0 shellacking, going for 380 yards and six touchdowns through the air. Those numbers are insane on their own, and also came in a blistering snow storm in the middle of a New England fall, earning the game a spot on this list as a result.
7. 2006 AFC Divisional Round vs. Chargers
This may not seem like an important game in the grand scheme of things, given the fact that the Patriots lost to the Colts in the AFC Championship game a week later, but it showcased Brady’s ability to do remarkable things with a less-than-remarkable receiving corps.
Brady brought the Patriots back from an 11-point deficit on the road with the likes of Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell in his receiving corps, and managed to defeat an offense that had the league MVP in LaDainian Tomlinson to go with Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson.
Brady’s stats weren’t ideal in this one, going 27-for-51 with 280 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, but the ability to go on the road against a heavily-favored team that was a lot of analysts’ pick to reach the Super Bowl and pick up a key win was a legacy-defining win on Brady’s resume.
6. Super Bowl LII vs. Eagles
Somehow, Brady even found a way to shine in a Super Bowl loss when the Patriots fell to the Eagles in 2018.
In the 41-33 loss, Brady threw for more than 500 yards and racked up three touchdown passes, doing so without one of the Patriots’ top receivers after Brandin Cooks was injured in the second quarter.
Ironically, although the Patriots defense saved Brady in Super Bowl LIII a year later, they couldn’t help the Patriots quarterback get another ring in Super Bowl LII, allowing Nick Foles and the Eagles offense to put up 538 total yards.
Despite all of that, it was an impressive offensive performance from the then-40-year-old quarterback, and proved that Brady wasn’t going anywhere as he neared his second decade in the league.
5. 2014 AFC Divisional Round vs. Ravens
Entering the top five, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. In this case, it seems right to start with one of Brady’s best comebacks: a 2014 Divisional Round win against the Ravens.
The Patriots were down 28-14 early in the second half as faithful fans at Gillette Stadium started to show some concern on that cold January night. But, Brady and the Patriots offense didn’t waver, regaining momentum with a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski to make it a one-possession game. Then, they followed that up with a double pass from Brady to Julian Edelman to Danny Amendola to tie the game in the third quarter.
With five minutes to go in the game, Brady capped off the comeback with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell, helping the Patriots advance to the AFC Championship in the process.
With 33 completions for 367 yards and three touchdowns, along with a rushing touchdown, Brady put on a career performance, and brought the Patriots to victory in a hard-fought battle.
4. Super Bowl LI vs. Falcons
Shockingly enough, a 25-point comeback doesn’t top the list of Brady’s best games in a Patriots uniform.
Many football fans know the story at this point, as the Patriots went down 28-3 against the Falcons in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, and fans began to tune the game out as they waited for league MVP Matt Ryan to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
But, the Patriots fought back, and Brady helped lead the charge as his offense chipped away at the Falcons’ lead, starting with a touchdown pass to James White with 2:06 to go in the third.
Brady followed it up with a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola in the fourth quarter after a field goal from Stephen Gostkowski, and a touchdown run from James White helped the Patriots tie things up to force overtime.
In the end, Brady’s 43 completions, 466 passing yards and two touchdowns earned him Super Bowl MVP honors, and gave him his fifth Super Bowl ring in the process.
3. 2018 AFC Championship Game vs. Chiefs
The first (and potentially only) playoff battle between Brady and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was an instant classic, and could be considered the game of the year as it relates to the 2018 season.
Brady and the Patriots were playing from behind at two different points in the fourth quarter, and managed to pull ahead in both occasions. Unfortunately for them, Mahomes and the Chiefs found a way to drive into Patriots territory at the end of the fourth quarter, and Harrison Butker knocked home a field goal to send the game into overtime.
Then, Brady pulled off one of his best drives of his career to open up overtime. The Patriots offense converted on three different third downs in overtime, and Rex Burkhead finished out the 13-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run to send the Patriots to Super Bowl LIII.
Brady tallied 30 completions, 348 passing yards and a touchdown, and was key in the Patriots’ successful third-down offense, which proved to be the turning point in the game.
It was another feather in Brady’s cap, and his best non-Super Bowl game of his career.
2. Super Bowl XXXVI vs. Rams
It’s impossible to understate the impact that Super Bowl XXXVI had on Brady’s career, the Patriots as a team, and the league as a whole, and it rightfully earns the second spot on this list of the future Hall of Famer’s best games in New England.
While it wasn’t anything special statistically for Brady, with just 16 completions for 145 yards and a touchdown, Super Bowl XXXVI served as the start of something special for his time with the team, and showcased the ice he had in his veins when it came to crunch time.
His drive with 1:21 to go in the fourth quarter is a pivotal moment in the league’s history, with John Madden’s advice to “play for overtime” standing out as one of the iconic calls in all of football given the end result. It was defiant, methodical and explosive all at the same time, and created a monster that the league would deal with for more than two decades.
Given the limited talent Brady possessed at the time as a quarterback, and the weapons he had at his disposal, it’s amazing to look back and see what the team accomplished against the “Greatest Show on Turf.” With all that said, it only seems right for the game to take one of the top spots on this list of Brady’s best bouts as a Patriot.
1. Super Bowl XLIX vs. Seahawks
In many football fans’ minds, Super Bowl XLIX was the greatest football game of all time.
The battle between Brady’s Patriots and Russell Wilson’s Seahawks had everything you could ever ask for. An explosive, well-rounded Patriots offense, possessing plenty of talent defensively to keep them in any type of game, going up against Seattle’s defense, the Legion of Boom, and a fast-paced offense that could strike at any moment.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Patriots faced a 10-point deficit after a 10-point third quarter from the Seahawks, and they entered the fourth quarter with a big hill to climb if they wanted to add another Lombardi Trophy to their collection.
Enter Brady, who pulled off the seemingly-unthinkable. He hit Danny Amendola for a four-yard touchdown pass with 7:55 to go in the game, and gave the Patriots the lead with a three-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman with 2:02 to go, capping off a 10-play, 64-yard drive.
His 37 completions for 328 yards and four touchdowns gave him another well-earned Super Bowl MVP trophy, and started another stretch of dominance for the Patriots in the second half of their 20-plus year dynasty.