As the greatest quarterback to ever don the pads turns 42 years young, his ability under center has continuously improved throughout his career.
With six Super Bowl titles, nine AFC championships, and a trio of MVP awards, New England Patriots quarterback Brady has sparkled in nearly every game he’s played. With countless comebacks and dozens of vintage playoff performances, in the words of Joey Bosa, he really is ridiculous.
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But which games stand out most. We’re counting down each of his 20 best performances on his birthday – one for every season he’s been in the league.
#20 — 2002 Regular Season vs. Kansas City
This was Brady’s first-ever 400-yard performance. He completed 39 of 54 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns. The Patriots defense nearly blew it as the Chiefs tied the game at the end of regulation. But a 5-for-6 performance in overtime by Tom gave New England a gutsy victory.
#19 — 2016 Regular Season vs. Cleveland
Brady’s first game back from his bogus deflategate suspension was a memorable one. He went 28 for 40 with 406 yards and three touchdowns as he was welcomed back to football in grand fashion.
#18 — Thanksgiving 2010 vs. Detroit
Don’t poke the bear. Tom Brady showed Lions corner Alphonso Smith why he would later be voted the first unanimous MVP in NFL history. When the Lions corner engaged in trash talk, Brady targeted Smith on three second-half touchdowns to silence the doubters. It was his highest-career passer rating at 158.3.
#17 — 2013 Regular Season vs. Pittsburgh
Brady threw for 432 yards and four touchdowns to torch the struggling Steelers. When Pittsburgh tied the game in the third quarter, Brady went into beast mode and led an overwhelming offensive outburst for New England.
#16 — 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff vs. Oakland
The Tuck Rule game. Brady had his first big-time playoff performance in his postseason debut, throwing for 312 yards in a driving snowstorm. He went a perfect 8 for 8 passing in overtime, and had a fourth-quarter drive where he was 9 for 9, capped off by a six-yard rushing touchdown.
#15 — 2019 AFC Divisional Playoff vs. LA Chargers
Going up against one of the league’s premier defenses and loads of critics, Brady made quick work of the Chargers going 34 for 44 with 343 yards.
#14 — 2012 AFC Divisional Playoff vs. Denver
Throwing six touchdown passes in a playoff game has happened just three times in history. Daryle Lamonica in 1969, Steve Young in 1995, and Brady in 2012. The 45-10 drubbing of Denver saw Brady pass for 354 yards and tie the single-game postseason touchdown pass record. Oh, and let’s not forget his 48-yard punt in this one as well.
#13 — 2007 Regular Season vs. Miami
Going a near-perfect 21 for 24 with 354 yards and six touchdowns, Brady was efficient as ever in a game that saw his highest yards-per-attempt of his career (14.2).
#12 — 2013 Regular Season vs. Denver
Down 24-0 at halftime, the Patriots flipped the script in the second half to force overtime before winning it on a botched punt and subsequent field goal. Brady’s second-half magic was the key as he finished the game 34 for 50 with 344 yards and three touchdowns.
#11 — 2013 Regular Season vs. Cleveland
The Patriots should never have been trailing by 12 points at home to the Browns late in the fourth quarter. But Brady, aided by an onside-kick recovery, put together some spectacular late-game magic to fuel his most unlikely comeback ever in a season that featured six of them.
#10 — 2017 Regular Season vs. New Orleans
Brees. Brady. Battlestar Gallactica.
TB12 made it look easy in the Big Easy, outplaying fellow future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees in a 36-20 routine victory. It was the first in a series of impressive outings during his 40-year-old, MVP-winning season. He went 30 for 39 with 447 yards passing and three touchdowns.
#9 — 2011 Regular Season vs. Miami
Brady set a career-high with 517 passing yards, the only time he has ever eclipsed the 500-yard mark in a game. He was aided, of course, by a 99-yard record-tying touchdown toss to Wes Welker late in the game that sealed a rare win in South Florida for New England.
#8 — 2016 AFC Championship Game vs. Pittsburgh
Brady played at an elite level in this one, going 32 for 42 with 384 yards and three touchdown passes – including a flea-flicker to Chris Hogan.
#7 — 2007 Regular Season, Patriots vs. Dallas
Going up against fellow unbeaten Dallas on the road, Brady dominated the Cowboys defense with five touchdown passes. His 388 yards in the air paved the way for a 21-point blowout.
#6 — 2009 Regular Season, Patriots vs. Tennessee
The largest victory in New England Patriots history, 59-0, was headlined by Brady’s most dominant performance – coming in an October snowstorm. Brady completed 29 of 34 passes for 380 yards and six touchdowns. He set an NFL record for five touchdown passes in the second quarter alone.
#5 — Super Bowl XLIX vs. Seattle
Brady re-established himself as the league’s premier quarterback with his then-record comeback in the Super Bowl. Down 10 points in the fourth quarter, Brady completed 13 of 15 passes down the stretch and threw a pair of touchdowns to win it.
#4 — Super Bowl LII vs. Philadelphia
This game gets thrown under the rug because New England lost, but Brady set a Super Bowl record with 505 yards passing and could’ve been the MVP had it not been for a late fumble.
#3 — Super Bowl XXXVIII vs. Carolina
Brady’s true coming-out party. In the Patriots’ first Super Bowl triumph two years prior, the relied on defense and a run-heavy offense to wear down the Rams. But in a shootout against the Panthers, Brady shined once again. He threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns to carve apart the Panthers’ defense.
In the fourth quarter, he brought the Patriots out of a temporary one-point deficit, then engineered another game-winning, last-minute drive to set up the winning field goal.
#2 — 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff vs. Baltimore
Tommy Comebacks, times two! The Patriots found themselves in a pair of 14-point deficits during the game, but it was Brady and an intricate offense that allowed the Patriots back into the game.
Brady threw for 367 yards in the frigid conditions, including a 23-yard dime to Brandon LaFell late in the game to give New England the lead. The completion was arguably the best of his career.
#1 — Super Bowl LI vs. Atlanta
Brady had to have a pass-heavy game given how far behind the Patriots were in the third quarter. It remains the only time he has completed over forty passes in a game (43 for 62). He even got the wheels in motion with a 15-yard rush.
Even without looking at the stats, leading a comeback this monumental on the game’s biggest stage is worthy of his best performance ever. And the Super Bowl MVP he earned confirms that.
Best of the Rest:
- 2019 AFC Championship vs. Kansas City
- 2015 Regular Season vs. Buffalo
- 2001 Regular Season vs San Diego.