Top 10 moments of Tom Brady's career
Editor’s note: This article was published when Brady announced his first retirement in 2022
Tom Brady officially decided to call it a career on Wednesday, ending the NFL's most decorated career. Over 23 seasons, the GOAT gave New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans an endless amount of unforgettable highlights.
Here are the best moments of his career.
10) 5 TDs in 1 quarter
One of Brady's most iconic regular-season games took place in 2009 against the Tennessee Titans on a snowy day at Gillette Stadium. Brady tossed five touchdowns in the second quarter - an NFL record for a single period - to give New England a 45-0 halftime lead. He finished the day with a career-high six touchdown passes despite being replaced midway through the third quarter, helping the Pats clinch a 59-0 win and tying the largest margin of victory in the Super Bowl era.
9) The Tuck Rule Game
You've heard about the Tuck Rule Game, one of the NFL's most controversial contests. However, this game also deserves to be remembered as the first of Brady's 35 career playoff victories.
In what was also his playoff debut, Brady, then 24, finished with 312 yards and one interception against the Oakland Raiders on a snowy day. Though he didn't toss a touchdown, he found the end zone on the ground to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter and later led the drive that ended with Adam Vinatieri's game-tying field goal in the final seconds. Vinatieri then nailed another clutch kick in overtime to clinch a 16-13 win.
8) MVP at age 40
Most players dream about just being able to play until 40. Brady set records and won an MVP at that age.
In 2017, the legendary signal-caller became the oldest quarterback ever to be named NFL MVP and to lead the league in passing yards. He finished that year with 4,577 yards to go along with 32 touchdowns against only eight interceptions. The Patriots finished that season with a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Earlier that campaign, Brady set the record for the most regular-season victories in NFL history by obtaining his 187th-career win in Week 6 versus the New York Jets. He's retiring with 278 victories, including the playoffs, on his resume.
7) 24-point comeback vs. Peyton
Brady's most exciting win in his historic quarterback rivalry with Peyton Manning, which gave NFL fans unforgettable moments for more than a decade, couldn't be left off of this list.
In 2013 - the year the Manning-led Broncos had the highest-scoring offense in NFL history - Brady started the third quarter down 24-0 at home. Yet he somehow found a way to put up 31 unanswered points to take the lead in the fourth. Manning put Denver on the board again to tie the game, but Brady had the last laugh in overtime, helping New England win 34-31.
6) Historic 2007 season
Brady's 2007 campaign deserves a top-10 moments list of its own, but here are the most impressive facts about it.
Led by the superstar quarterback, New England stunned the NFL with a perfect season. While the Pats became the first team ever to go 16-0 in the regular season, Brady enjoyed arguably the best individual campaign of his career, breaking Manning's record for touchdowns in a single season with 50 en route to his first MVP award.
Additionally, Brady led the NFL in completion percentage (68.9%) and yards (4,806) that year.
5) Beating The Legion of Boom in Super Bowl XLIX
Brady arguably faced one of the biggest obstacles in his career in the form of the Seahawks' iconic "Legion of Boom" secondary during Super Bowl XLIX. But the GOAT wouldn't be denied, engineering a comeback for the ages to cap off a classic title game.
With New England down 24-14 in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks had minimized Brady and appeared to be on their way to a second straight championship. However, like he's done throughout his career, Brady proved he can never be counted out. The quarterback tossed touchdowns on two consecutive drives to give the Patriots a late lead before cornerback Malcolm Butler sealed the win with an unforgettable goal-line interception.
A victory against one of the most dominant defenses of this era not only marked the Patriots' first Super Bowl in a decade, but it also signaled the beginning of a second prime for Brady.
4) Return to New England
After Brady left New England, every Patriots fan circled Oct. 3, 2021, on their calendar. That day marked Brady's first game back in Foxborough. For some, the contest was meant to bring closure to a chapter that abruptly ended, though others wanted to see Brady pitted against longtime coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick's defense may have kept Brady without a touchdown pass, but the quarterback grinded out a win to take one over his former coach. Just like Patriots fans were accustomed to seeing over his time with the team, Brady set the Bucs up for a game-winning field goal with just over two minutes remaining to narrowly escape with a win.
While Brady sent Patriots fans home with a loss, the prime-time showdown gave his supporters an opportunity for a grand send-off. An emotional week filled with drama rehashing his stunning 2020 departure came to a close with a fitting final image: Belichick and his former quarterback of 20 years embracing one last time in front of the New England faithful.
3) Upsetting the Rams for 1st SB win
Following an injury to Drew Bledsoe in 2001, Brady was inserted into the starting lineup and never looked back. But he was still just a game-manager at this point, so few, if any, gave the former sixth-round pick and a tough Patriots defense a chance of defeating the then-St. Louis Rams and the "Greatest Show on Turf." Super Bowl XXXVI would be the first lesson of many in why it's foolish to count Brady out.
The Rams looked to have momentum on their side after scoring 14 straight points to tie it up at 17 with just over a minute remaining. Overtime loomed, though Brady had no plans to postpone his championship celebration. The then-second-year pro showed incredible poise, completing five of his eight passes before Vinatieri kicked the game-winner as time expired to give the Patriots their first Super Bowl win.
It was one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets in NFL history, and it also served as Brady's origin story as the league's greatest underdog.
2) Capturing his 7th Super Bowl victory
Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes. GOAT versus Future GOAT. Super Bowl LV was billed as the potential passing of the torch from Brady to a younger star. However, Brady's performance in the big game was a reminder that the GOAT title was his, and his only.
While his younger counterpart struggled, the veteran quarterback was flawless, throwing for three touchdowns and zero interceptions in a 31-9 rout over the Kansas City Chiefs.
With his seventh Super Bowl title, Brady's collection of Lombardi Trophies exceeded that of any NFL team. The quarterback who shocked the world when he announced he was leaving New England - his home of 20 seasons - had cemented his legacy as the greatest ever by winning with a new club.
1) Super Bowl LI
No words can do justice to capture the unbelievable events that transpired in Super Bowl LI. However, two numbers tell the whole tale: 28-3.
Facing a 25-point deficit to the Atlanta Falcons midway through the third quarter, it seemed Brady had finally proven to be human after all. Brought down to earth in the first half, the signal-caller would reach almost mythical status by the time the confetti came down.
Brady was automatic, rallying the Patriots to four straight scoring drives to draw the game 28-28 at the end of regulation. Getting the ball in overtime, Brady charged the Patriots 75 yards into the end zone to stun the Falcons and the world by completing the largest comeback in Super Bowl history.
The greatest comeback by the greatest ever. The ultimate highlight in a lengthy list of accomplishments, accolades, and wins, Brady entered sports immortality by crafting a moment that can be universally recognized with one simple phrase: "28-3."