Patriots

12 unforgettable moments from Tom Brady’s career

The all-time great always gave his teams a chance, even when it felt like they didn't have one.

Tom Brady had more than 12 great moments. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Tom Brady made it official Tuesday, retiring from the NFL after 22 seasons, 7 Super Bowl wins, and countless records. While no list could completely sum up Brady’s career accomplishments, here are 12 moments from TB12’s career that are simply worth revisiting again.

12. Super Bowl LIII

Coming at 12 is Brady’s final Super Bowl win with the Patriots — arguably his worst game of the winning Super Bowls. Brady completed 21 of 35 passes in that game for 262 yards with an interception.

While he didn’t throw a touchdown pass, he helped set up the game’s only touchdown. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a 29-yard pass up the seam, getting the Patriots down to the Rams’ 2-yard line. Sony Michel ran in for six on the next play, putting the Patriots up 10-3 before ultimately winning 13-3.

11. Super Bowl XXXIX

Brady’s third Super Bowl win with the Patriots was a relatively tame game, but the star quarterback played well. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 236 yards with two touchdowns, helping wide receiver Deion Branch tie a then-Super Bowl record with 11 catches. While Brady didn’t win Super Bowl MVP, his performance was strong enough to give the Patriots their third Super Bowl win in four years — making their mark as a dynasty.

Tom Brady won his third Super Bowl in 2004.

Honorable mention No. 1: 2004 AFC Championship Game. The Patriots went 14-2 during the 2004 regular season, looking unstoppable for much of it. However, one of their two losses came against the Steelers, who defeated them 34-20.

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The Patriots had to go to Pittsburgh again and beat the Steelers if they wanted to keep their hopes of a second straight Super Bowl alive. To make matters worse, Brady dealt with the flu and fever in the lead-up to the game.

That didn’t stop him. On the first play of the team’s second drive, Brady connected with Branch deep for a 60-yard touchdown to put the Patriots up 10-0, giving them control for the evening. Brady completed 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards with two touchdowns as the Patriots won, 41-27.

10. 2017 AFC Championship Game

The Patriots appeared to have a relatively easy path to reach the Super Bowl in 2017, hosting the Jaguars in the conference title game. But Jacksonville got off to a 14-3 lead and right before the half, Rob Gronkowski was knocked out of the game due to a concussion.

The Jaguars held their 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter. With the league’s best defense that season, the Jaguars appeared to be too much, even for Brady.

But on a crucial 3rd-and-18, Brady connected with Danny Amendola for a first down. A 31-yard pass to Phillip Dorsett helped the Patriots score a touchdown later in the drive, cutting the Jaguars’ lead to 20-17.

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Two drives later, the Patriots took the lead for good when Brady connected with Amendola in the back of the endzone on a four-yard touchdown pass.

Honorable mention No. 2: Super Bowl LII

Statically, Super Bowl LII might have been the best game of Brady’s career. He threw for a Super Bowl-record 505 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Patriots put 33 points on the board.

But Brady made two crucial errors in that game. His first came when he dropped a pass on a third-down that would’ve given the Patriots a first down. The second was when Brandon Graham stripped sacked him with just over two minutes left, making it even tougher for the Patriots to win.

Brady did get one last chance to tie the game, but his Hail Mary pass fell incomplete at the buzzer.

9. 2007 record-breaking regular season

Tom Brady and Randy Moss were a force to be reckoned with in 2007. Brady threw for six touchdowns in one game against the Dolphins, outdueled Peyton Manning and the Colts in a November battle of undefeated teams, and threw four touchdown passes in one half to Randy Moss against the Bills.

All of that, plus winning every game, set the stage for one of the most compelling regular-season games ever in Week 17 against the Giants. Brady and Moss needed two touchdowns each to break the regular-season records for the most passing and receiving touchdowns, respectively.

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The Giants made them earn it, though. Trailing for much of the game, Brady found Moss for a touchdown for the second time of the evening on a 65-yard pass to give the Patriots a 31-28 lead. The Patriots held on, 38-35, giving them all three records.

Honorable mention No. 4: The 2007 ending is certainly one that Patriots fans want to forget. But Brady had a stellar game in the divisional round against the Jaguars, throwing more touchdowns (3) than incompletions (2) in a 31-20 win.

8. 2014 AFC Divisional Round

Following a 2-2 start that saw several analysts say the dynasty was over, the Patriots went 10-2 down the stretch of the 2014 season to earn the AFC’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

At the start of their opening playoff game, they looked like the struggling 2-2 team from earlier in the season. The Ravens took a 14-0 lead, but the Patriots tied it quickly. However, the Ravens went up by 14 again at the start of the third quarter, looking like they were about to beat Brady in the playoffs for a third time.

Brady responded in a big way. The Patriots scored touchdowns on three of their next four drives, with Brady throwing for two of them. The last one came on a 23-yard pass to Brandon LaFell, where the ball hit LaFell in stride along the sideline right before the safety help came.

The Patriots held on to win, 35-31, and Brady’s heroics that season didn’t end there.

7. Super Bowl LV

For much of Brady’s first regular season in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers didn’t look too promising — at least enough for a Super Bowl run. They started the year 7-5, failing to beat top teams. They did manage to win their last four regular-season gmes, which got them into the playoffs as a wild card.

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Brady handled his business against the Washington Football Team, but road upsets over Drew Brees’s Saints and Aaron Rodgers’s Packers got the Buccaneers into Super Bowl LV.

Going up against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Brady’s Buccaneers were underdogs again. That didn’t matter, though, as Tampa played its best game of the season in a 31-9 rout. Brady looked like his vintage self, throwing three touchdowns (two to Gronkowski) en route to winning Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time. The win gave him his seventh Super Bowl, more than any franchise has won.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski celebrated their fourth Super Bowl as teammates a year ago.

Honorable mention No. 5: The 2021 regular season. Brady’s final season was spectacular. At 44, Brady led the league in passing yards (5,316) and passing touchdowns (43), making him one of the leading candidates for MVP.

6. The Tuck Rule Game

Brady’s late-game heroics began on a snowy night in Foxborough in January 2002. In the AFC Divisional Round, Brady and the Patriots failed to muster much offensively against the Raiders, trailing 13-3 in the fourth quarter.

Brady led the Patriots on a 10-play drive midway through the fourth, which ended with him running in for a six-yard touchdown to cut the lead to three.

The Patriots got the ball one last time in regulation but appeared to have the opportunity slip away when Brady fumbled. Of course, we know now that the Tuck Rule existed, giving the Patriots another chance. On the next play, Brady connected with David Patten for a 13-yard pass that got the Patriots into field goal range for Adam Vinatieri to tie it.

In overtime, Brady completed a key fourth-down pass before driving the ball to the Raiders’ 5-yard line to set Vinatieri up for the game-winning kick.

5. Super Bowl XXXVIII

Reaching the Super Bowl for the second time in three years, Brady looked ready for the occasion. After both teams were held scoreless for the first 25 minutes of the game, Brady threw two touchdowns in the final minutes in the first half to give the Patriots a 14-10 lead over the Panthers.

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Brady continued to dig deep. A scoreless third quarter kept the game at one-score, but a 33-yard pass to Daniel Graham helped set the Patriots up to take a 21-10 lead.

Following a Panthers touchdown, Brady had a chance to put the Patriots up by two scores again. However, he threw a pick in the red zone and the Panthers scored three plays later to go up 22-21.

Tom Brady threw three touchdowns in the Patriots’ Super Bowl XXXVIII win over the Panthers.

Brady did what he need to do on the next two drives. The first was a 68-yard touchdown drive, connecting with Mike Vrabel in the end zone to put the Patriots up seven.

The Panthers evened the score and the game looked like it might have been heading to overtime. But Brady found Branch for a 17-yard reception on a crucial third down to put Vinatieri in field goal range for the game-winning kick once again.

Brady finished the game with 354 passing yards and three touchdowns.

4. 2018 AFC Championship Game

At 11-5, the 2018 Patriots didn’t look as strong as several past teams. They pulled off a Divisional Round win over the Chargers with ease, but a matchup for the AFC title in Kansas City against Mahomes and the Chiefs looked like it might have been the last stand for the Patriots’ dynasty.

New England controlled the first half, taking a 14-0 lead into the break. But Mahomes woke up and had the Chiefs leading, 21-17, by the early part of the fourth quarter.

Brady was able to go toe-to-toe with the MVP-winning young buck. He led the Patriots to a touchdown on their next two drives — completing a big 25-yard pass to Gronkowski on a third down to set up the second touchdown. But Mahomes responded and was able to force the game to go to overtime.

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Luckily for the Patriots, they won the coin toss and got the ball first. It didn’t look too easy of a drive to start, facing 3rd-and-10 three times on the drive. But Brady was able to convert for a first on all three, throwing completions to Julian Edelman for two of them and one to Gronkowski.

Rex Burkhead was able to run it from there, rushing for a 2-yard touchdown to give Brady his “Still Here” moment.

3. Super Bowl XLIX

Ten years removed from their last Super Bowl victory, in 2014 the Patriots had their third chance to win their fourth Super Bowl. Brady faced a tough opponent that night, going up against the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” defense, viewed by several NFL analysts as one of the best in history.

Brady performed well in the first half, throwing two touchdown passes as the game was tied, 14-14, going into the break.

Things began to unravel a bit though in the third quarter. Brady threw his second interception of the game, setting the Seahawks up for a touchdown to go up 24-14. Going three-and-out on the next two drives didn’t help, either.

Facing another possible three-and-out, Brady connected with Edelman for a 21-yard reception on 3rd-and-14. He found Amendola in the end zone not long later to cut the Seahawks’ lead to three.

Brady got his chance to put the Patriots up for good on the next drive. He completed all eight passes for 65 yards on the drive, finding Edelman in the end zone to cap it off and give the Patriots a 28-24 lead.

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Brady did need some help defensively to win his fourth Super Bowl, with Malcolm Butler intercepting Russell Wilson at the 1-yard line to prevent another Super Bowl loss. But Brady did it again, winning his fourth Super Bowl to tie the record for the most ever won by a quarterback.

2. Super Bowl XXXVI

The Patriots weren’t given much of a chance against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, with oddsmakers making the team 14-point underdogs.

But they were the ones that led by 14, with Brady’s touchdown pass to David Patten at the end of the first half being one of the reasons why the Patriots led 17-3 in the third quarter.

The Patriots’ offense went cold though and the Rams tied the game up with 1:30 left. To the disapproval of the late, great John Madden, the Patriots decided to try and win the game there.

Brady looked in his element, completing 5-of-7 passes for 53 yards before spiking the ball to get Vinatieri on for the game-winning kick. Vinatieri sank the 48-yard field goal, giving the Patriots their first title, and started the legend of Tom Brady.

1. Super Bowl LI

If Super Bowl XXXVI created the legend of Tom Brady, then Super Bowl LI cemented it.

After missing the first four games of the season due to his suspension from Deflategate, Brady was able to get the Patriots back to the Super Bowl for the seventh time of his career.

This one brought his toughest challenge yet. The Falcons took a 28-3 lead, with one of their four touchdowns coming from a pick-six off Brady.

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A five-yard touchdown pass from Brady to James White at the end of the third to cut it to 28-9 got things going for New England. The next Patriots drive stalled out in the red zone, but they were able to get a field goal out of it to make it a two-score game.

Dont’a Hightower’s strip-sack of Matt Ryan gave the Patriots the life they needed. Brady completed all four of his passes on the next drive, with the last one going to Amendola for a touchdown. A two-point conversion cut the Falcons’ lead to eight.

Brady and the Patriots got one chance to tie the game up. Facing a 3rd-and-10 from their own 9-yard line, Brady completed a 16-yard pass to Chris Hogan for a first down. Three plays later, Edelman caught a pass in traffic that was inches from hitting the turf for a 23-yard gain.

Brady’s passes got the Patriots down to the Falcons’ 1-yard line, where White rushed in for the score. A screen pass to Amendola on the two-point conversion tied the game.

The Patriots got the ball to start overtime and Brady was still sharp. He completed his first six passes, setting the Patriots up at the Falcons 2-yard line where White ran for the Super Bowl-winning score.

The 25-point comeback is by far the biggest in Super Bowl history. After the game. several NFL experts named Brady the greatest to ever play the game.

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