Tom Brady, the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft, will start in his 10th Super Bowl this Sunday. Brady has made it to the Super Bowl in more than 50% of the seasons where he’s started more than one game.
Brady has simply too much history in the big game to expect anyone to remember all of it, so we’re providing this game-by-game primer as a refresher. If you’re someone who has never seen a Tom Brady Super Bowl but somehow clicked on this, welcome aboard.
In the final part of our series, we look at a wounded warrior willing himself to earn an elusive victory, and then continuing on past what anyone could have ever expected.
Part 3, The Return of the Pliability Jedi
Super Bowl XLIX – Defeated Seattle Seahawks 28-24
In 2014, Brady was still looking for his elusive fourth Super Bowl, which would tie him with his childhood idol, Joe Montana. The team did not immediately look championship-caliber. After a blowout loss to the Chiefs put the Pats at 2-2 ESPN Analyst Trent Dilfer said the immortal line, “The New England Patriots, let’s face it, they’re not good anymore!” New England went 10-2 for the rest of the season, then beat the Ravens and Colts to reach the Super Bowl.
The Patriots and Seahawks played an extremely even first half and were tied 14-14 at halftime. Seattle received the kickoff out of the break and netted a field goal on their first drive. Brady was then intercepted by Bobby Wagner and Seattle scored a touchdown to take a 24-14 lead. As Brady saw another chance of a fourth ring slipping away, he put together a nearly perfect fourth quarter, going 13 of 15 for 124 yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots would hold onto their 28-24 lead, despite some last second drama, and Brady finally had his fourth championship.
Key Play – Malcolm, Go!
The Seahawks had one last chance to win the game as they had second and goal on the Patriots 1 with :26 left. Seattle chose to pass the ball in this situation and Russell Wilson’s pass intended for Ricardo Lockette was intercepted by Malcolm Butler, securing the Lombardi Trophy for the Patriots.
Super Bowl LI – Defeated Atlanta Falcons 34-28 (OT)
The Patriots started the season 4-1, but most importantly, they did it without Brady who was serving a suspension for Deflategate (Editor’s note: the lack of explanation or link for that is intentional). When Brady returned, he led New England to a 11-1 record and only threw 2 interceptions in his 12 games back. The Patriots won both their AFC playoff games vs. the Texans and Steelers by double-digits.
The beginning of this Super Bowl was a much different story as the Falcons jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, which grew to 21-0 when Brady threw a pick-6 to Robert Alford late in the 2nd quarter. The Falcons added another score shortly after halftime and were winning 28-3 with a little over 2 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Brady and the Patriots proceeded to score 25 points in the final 17 minutes of the game to tie the score. New England also won the coin toss in overtime and James White capped a nine-play drive, and the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, off with a Super Bowl-winning 2-yard score.
Key Play – Flowers Packs a Sack Lunch
There are many worthy candidates of best play, like the Hightower Strip Sack, the Edelman catch and what might be the best throw of Brady’s career. But the key play came from defensive end Trey Flowers.
After New England brought the score to 28-20 the Falcons had the ball with just under six minutes left and there was the opportunity to put the game away. Julio Jones made a miraculous catch and Atlanta had a first down at the New England 22 with about four and a half minutes left. All they had to do was drain the clock or kick a field goal to put their win over the top. But after a one-yard loss on first down, Flowers burst through and sacked Matt Ryan all the way back at the New England 35. A hold on the next play took the Falcons out of field goal range and their punt then allowed Brady to lead the game-tying drive.
Super Bowl LII – Lost to Philadelphia Eagles 41-33
The Patriots lost Julian Edelman to a torn ACL in the preseason, and started out 2-2. New England then went 11-1 the rest of the season and Brady won his third MVP. After easily handling the Titans in their first playoff game, Brady led a comeback that erased a 10-point Jacksonville lead in the 4th quarter to get to his 8th Super Bowl.
The second time Brady faced the Eagles in the Super Bowl went differently. For one, there was only one punt in the entire game as neither defense seemed to have shown up for the big game. A lot of the storyline was about how Malcom Butler was benched by the Patriots, but the Eagles defense also allowed Brady to throw for 500+ yards and 3 TDs. But with the Eagles winning 38-33 right before the two minute warning, Brandon Graham strip sacked Brady with just over two minutes to go and all but sealed the Eagles victory.
Key Play – Pats D Can’t Get Off the Field
The Philly Special gets all the love, but that play also happened in the first half. Another Eagles play in the fourth quarter loomed larger. Philly was trailing 33-32 with a little over six minutes left. They completed a short pass to Torrey Smith on 3rd and 1 at their own 45 yard-line, failing to convert the first down. Instead of giving the ball back to an offense that would never punt in the game, Philly went for it and Nick Foles connected with Zach Ertz for the first down. The Eagles would continue to drive down the field until Foles found Ertz again for a TD and a lead Philly would never give up.
[Go to 02:02:20 in this video]
Super Bowl LIII – Defeated Los Angeles Rams 13-3
The Patriots started their season after their Super Bowl loss by again going 1-2. They won their next six games, but then lost three of the next five, and finished 11-5 on the season. While their win against the Chargers in the Divisional Round was applauded, no one thought they had much of a chance in the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City. The Patriots had other ideas and jumped out to a 14-0 lead at halftime. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense woke up in the second half and scored 24 points in the fourth quarter. Again, New England surprised everyone by keeping up with Kansas City, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter to force OT, and then scoring a touchdown on the first drive to earn their Super Bowl berth.
This Super Bowl was basically the antithesis of the previous year where the two teams combined to punt FOURTEEN times. After one of the more embarrassing defensive performances in Super Bowl history the previous year, the Patriots were on point for this whole game. New England sacked Jared Goff four times and intercepted him once, while also limiting the Rams to only 62 total rushing yards. The game was tied 3-3 until deep in the fourth quarter when the Patriots scored 10 points in the final seven minutes, securing Brady’s sixth Super Bowl ring.
Key Play – Glimpse of Vintage Gronk
The Patriots had the ball at the Rams 31 yard-line with under eight minutes remaining in the game. Rob Gronkowski had one of his worst statistical seasons this year, but when it mattered most Brady looked for him. He lofted a pass deep into the Rams red zone and Gronkowski brought it in at the 2. Sony Michel ran in the game’s only touchdown on the next play.
For most New England fans it would be great to say “roll credits” here. But Tom Brady is continuing to do the impossible, just in another city this time.
On Sunday, Brady starts Super Bowl #10 and hope to win ring #7.
Enjoy the game!
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