Tom Brady
PC: JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF/FILE

On September 23rd 2001, we met a sixth round draft pick from Michigan named Tom Brady. However, it wasn’t on the best of circumstances. Mo Lewis delivered a huge hit on then Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. He was injured which paved the way for Tom Brady. At that time, he wasn’t the QB we have all come to know. He was a game manager.

With a good team around him, he managed the Patriots into a playoff spot. When he got injured against the Steelers in the AFC Championship game, Bledsoe had to come in and save the day. He sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl. Many wondered what this meant and who would lead the team against the high powered St. Louis Rams offense. We are going to look back on that and at the progression of the man now known as the GOAT.

Brady Gets The Nod

The Patriots were the heavy underdogs against the Greatest Show on Turf. The defense kept the likes of Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk in check while Brady kept the offense on schedule. The touchdown pass to the late David Patten is one of the most underrated plays in Super Bowl history. Patten made a spectacular catch. A late second half surge with a Warner touchdown run and a great play by Ricky Proehl tied the game at 17.

With time ticking away, Brady threw a check down to running back JR Redmond three times in a row to keep the clock on their side. After that, Brady stepped into a throw that hit Troy Brown that helped set up good field goal range. One last pass to tight end Jermaine Wiggins gave Adam Vinatieri the distance he needed to kick the game winning field goal. That final drive orchestrated by #12 was a masterclass and preview of what was coming next.

2002

The Patriots drastically fell off during the 2002 season. They failed to even make the playoffs. At that point, it’s safe to say that pundits thought Super Bowl hangover would keep the Patriots from advancing any further in the football world.

2003

Surprise surprise, they made it back to the Super Bowl in 2003 against Jake Delhomme and the Panthers. It was a heavy defensive bout until the legs of Tom Brady got them in a first and goal situation. Brady connected with a wide open Deion Branch and thought they had momentum before halftime. Delhomme decided to get in on the fun and answered the Brady drive with one of his own. He aired out the ball and connected with Steve Smith. A shootout was brewing.

Brady led the offense down the field again and David Givens was the recipient of another touchdown strike. He led a balanced attack in the second half only to see the Panthers punch right back and take the lead. It was time for the Patriots to punch back and answer, and they did so with another sustained drive with a touchdown catch by Mike Vrabel and some two point trickery by Kevin Faulk. Delhomme got him back and found Ricky Proehl for a touchdown to tie the game at 29 with 1:08 to play. Brady worked his magic again and one last throw and catch to Deion Branch set up Vinatieri again for the win.

2004

The unthinkable happened when the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl again against Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. The Eagles jumped out to a lead when Brady found Givens to equalize it. The continuity he had with his pass catchers largely contributed to the team success. Branch once again became one of the go to options and was the recipient of most of the passes no matter how tight the windows. Branch also was the MVP of the game. The Patriots became a dynasty and Brady had three rings to his name. People were starting to take notice.

The Years After

He truly arrived in 2007 when he was named league MVP and the Patriots were 18-0. This time, they could not cap the season with another championship. After an ACL tear in 2009 and another Super Bowl loss in 2011, people began to wonder if this was it. Could the Patriots do it again? They were always in the mix and Brady played very well. In the 2014 season, they got another shot against the Seattle Seahawks. That year was a shaky start as they started 2-2 and got blown out by the Chiefs on Monday Night Football. Reports all over the place came out about how Brady was done and it was time for Jimmy Garoppolo to get an opportunity. Sticking with the plan proved to be the right decision as Brady had another great year and helped create another Super Bowl comeback. Touchdown passes to Brandon Lafell, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman helped get it done. He was now in the GOAT discussion with Joe Montana.

Three Straight Super Bowls

The train kept rolling in the 2016 season when the Patriots faced off against the Falcons. What appeared to be a runway turned into the infamous 28-3 game. Touchdown passes to James White and Danny Amendola helped them get back in it as well as clutch plays from Edelman, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan, and an unreal performance by White. His ability to make his teammates better and set them up to make big plays is another part of his greatness. They could not make it back to back as the Eagles got revenge a year later, but beat the Rams again in a third straight Super Bowl birth.

The Divorce

The 2019 season was a down year for Brady and rumors were swirling that he was unhappy in New England. Those were confirmed in March 2020 when he announced he was leaving the team. To everyone’s surprise, he joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There was a mixed bag of opinions. Some thought he was done while others felt he would continue to be great. When the Bucs were sitting at 7-5, nobody expected them to run the table including win three road playoff games in a row. The capper was winning the Super Bowl in Tampa. No matter how old he gets, he remains dominant.

Final Thoughts

Love him or hate, Tom Brady is the best to ever do it. We can’t take away what he has been able to do in his football life. Who know the 199th pick from Michigan in 2001 would change the landscape of professional sports forever? Sit back and enjoy it people. We are never going to see this again.

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20 Years Ago, We Met Tom Brady
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  1. Pingback: NFL Week 3 Schedule/Scores/Standings - Championship Sports Media

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