Trying to sift through 456 touchdowns, 17 years, seven Super Bowl appearances, 50 game-winning drives, and five incredible Super Bowl victories for just 10 moments is near impossible.
However, as a fully signed up member to the Unapologetic Patriots Fan Club, I felt I was up to the task. So here they are, the best moments in Tom Terrific’s incredible career.
1 Week 1, 2009: Comeback squared
This might be an odd one to choose for the #1 moment, after all it was only a Week 1 game. However, context matters.
On September 7, 2008, the Patriots took to the field for the first time since losing the unbeaten season in the most gut-wrenching way, and it wasn't long before Brady was in a heap on the floor following a hit to the knee from Bernard Pollard. He missed the rest of the season, and one of the greatest "what could have been"'s in football unfolded as the Patriots went 11-5 without him.
53 weeks later, Brady was back on the field. Week 1 of the 2009 season was a primetime Monday night game against the Buffalo Bills and the Patriots were struggling. The old rhythm was gone, Brady's was jittery. After watching Carson Palmer's career get derailed by an ACL injury, were we really watching Tom Brady's career start to fall apart?
He threw a pick six to Aaron Schobel in the second quarter, and the Patriots were down 24-13 with just 5:32 to go in the game. And then Tom Terrific arrived.
an 11-play, 80-yard drive ended with an 18-yard strike to Ben Watson between three defenders with just 2:10 left. You could feel the atmosphere change with that throw. What had turned into a classic "sky is falling" Bostonian crowd came alive. A fumble on the kick return gave the Patriots the ball, and Brady fired in a second shot to Watson with just 55 seconds left.
In a brief, furious, comeback, Brady's own personal comeback was complete. Nerves were settled, and the next eight years of brilliance had a foundation on which to build.
2 Super Bowl XLIX: That fourth quarter
This one was arguably Brady's best Super Bowl performance. The Seahawks and their "Legion of Boom" had been a thorn in Brady's side ever since they called their shot and beat the Patriots in 2012. When they met a few years later in the Super Bowl there was no aura for the Seahawks to contend with. They knew they could beat the Patriots, they just had to execute.
The problem was that Tom Brady wasn't going to lie down and let it happen. Still, at the start of the fourth quarter the Patriots were down 24-14 and Brady had been getting beaten up all day but he did not care.
In a fourth quarter performance that will go down in history, he completed 13 of 15 passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns against one of the best pass defenses in NFL history.
The game will be remembered for Malcolm Butler's goal line interception, but that wouldn't have happened without Brady's incredible heroics.
3 Super Bowl XXXVI: The one that started it all
All the way back in 2001, the Patriots were a nothing franchise that had been to just two Super Bowls in their history and lost both. They went into Super Bowl XXXVI a double-digit underdog that everyone expected to get blown out and then return to their quiet little corner of the country. Except, they didn't.
The success of the Patriots had a lot to do with Bill Belichick's gameplan to neutralize Marshall Faulk (or videotaping a practice depending on who you believe), but the game came down to the last 90 seconds.
Tied 17-17, the Patriots received the ball, and with commentator and legendary coach calling for the Patriots to just run out the clock and head to overtime, Tom Brady started firing darts around the field. Five yards here, eight yards there, a 23-yard catch-and-run from Troy Brown, and soon the Patriots were within field goal range. The drive took 1:14 from the first snap to the kick, and the Patriots had gone 53 yards on the right arm of Tom Brady to win their first Super Bowl.
4 Week 6, 2009: Snowone can stop me
An blizzard swept into Foxboro and blanketed the stadium in snow. Now your normal, mortal, quarterback would proceed to hand the ball off and play it safe. Tom Brady is not that quarterback.
Instead, he turned the heat up on the hapless Tennessee Titans and threw six touchdowns, including five in the second quarter, as he completed 86% of his passes for 380 yards.
5 Week 17, 2007: #50
The 2007 season will be remembered as the one where the Patriots blew a perfect season. But before the playoffs started, it was the one where the Patriots burned the league to pieces. Coming off the 'Spygate' saga, and with Randy Moss and Wes Welker added to the offense, Tom Brady proceeded to rip his way through defense after defense en route to a 16-0 regular season and a record 50 touchdown passes.
While the record may since have been broken, the moment it happened was something truly magical. Brady went for Moss deep down the sideline and missed. But the play had worked, Moss was wide open, so the Patriots simply ran the same one again and this time Brady put the ball just where it was needed. Moss scampered to the endzone to break two records in one play.
6 Super Bowl LI: The drive for five
At halftime of Super Bowl LI, I was a very depressed Patriots fan writing about how brilliantly the Falcons had shredded New England. By the time the game was over I had deleted almost every word and was trying to find a way to describe the most miraculous comeback in football.
On the biggest stage, and in the biggest hole, Tom Brady didn't stop fighting. There were plenty of factors in the Patriots incredible victory. From Dont'a Hightower's strip-sack to Julian Edelman's ridiculous catch, and even the luck of winning the coin toss. But at the center of it all was a sensational performance from #12.
Brady completed 69.35% of his passes for 466 yards as he picked up his fifth Lombardi trophy.
7 Week 9, 2013: Steeler destruction
For most of the history of the NFL, Pittsburgh has been the power in the AFC, but throughout Brady's career he has made a mockery of the franchise. He is 7-2 against them, with a sky-high 69.6% pass completion rate and 24 touchdowns to three picks.
This performance, more than any other, summed up his domination of Pittsburgh. It was a masterful display of manipulating defenses and surgically picking them apart. Brady amassed 432 yards, threw for four touchdowns, and led an offense that put up 55 points on a team that pride themselves on defense.
8 2013: The high fives
The chemistry of a football team is a peculiar thing, and we only get a few glimpses of it on game day. But one of the strangest, and in the end most memeable things in the NFL in recent years in the Patriots refusal to give Tom Brady a high five.
Even when you're the best at what you do, you can't always get what you want.
9 Week 14, 2011: The furious fire
Most of the time, Brady is a calm oasis in the middle of the storm that is football. But sometimes the competitive fire breaks free.
From yelling at teammates, to throwing his helmet and screaming expletives at himself, Brady's competitive streak will sometimes get the best of him. The most notable time Brady anger boiled over was when he threw a rare endzone pick against the Redskins and he got into it with assistant coach and known hot head Bill O'Brien.
10 Sneak to win
Tom Brady's arm has carried him to greatness, but his feet have helped along the way. Never known for his speed (just watch his Combine tape), Brady's sneaky quickness in a tight space and good footwork have allowed him to avoid rushes and pick up a few long first downs in his career, but one thing he is the absolute best at is the quarterback sneak.
Since 2001 the Patriots have run a QB sneak roughly once every other game, and they are ridiculously good at it, and that has everything to do with Tom Brady. It may not be something that sticks out to fans of other teams, but every Patriots fan knows that a 4th & 1 is incredibly gettable with Brady under center. With a success rate of 93% with 1 yard to gain, Brady has added roughly 138 "expected points" to the Patriots offense. It doesn't seem like something all that important, but with every sneak comes a chance to extend a drive, and that means more chances to throw.
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