New England Patriots: The 5 Best Passes of Tom Brady's Career Thus Far
- 2000 NFL draft, 6th round pick (199) out of Michigan
- 3 time Super Bowl champion
- 2 time Super Bowl MVP
- NFL's first ever unanimous MVP Award winner
- 2 time NFL MVP
- 2 time Offensive Player of the Year
- Rated the #21 player of all-time by NFL.com.
- Voted the #1 player of 2011 by his peers.
- 6 time Pro Bowler
- 2005 Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year
- 2004 & 2007 Sporting News Sportsman of the Year
- 2007 AP Male Athlete of the Year
- 2009 NFL Comeback Player of the Year
- First team to ever go 16-0 in the regular season (2007)
- New England Patriots all-time leader for Passing Touchdowns
- NFL single season record holder for most Touchdown passes in a season (50)
- NFL record holder for fewest starts to 100 wins (131)
- NFL record for most consecutive wins in the post season: 10 (2001, 2003, 2004, 2005)
- Most consecutive wins, regular season and post season: 21 (2003-2004)
- Most consecutive wins in regular season home games: 28 (2006-present)
- Most seasons finishing 8-0 at home: 5 (2003, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010)
- Only quarterback to start and win 3 Super Bowls before his 28th birthday
- Most Super Bowl completions: 100
- Most consecutive pass attempts to start a career without an interception: 162 (2000-2001)
- Most consecutive pass attempts without an interception, regular season: 338 (2010-present)
With so many accomplishments and awards to Brady's name, I plan to take a look back at five of the most defining passes and plays of one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Brady has always had the ability to take anyone with two hands, two legs and a Patriots jersey, and turn them into Pro Bowlers. Brady won three Super Bowls with the likes of Deion Branch, Troy Brown, David Givens and David Patten. When given an elite talent receiver, Brady showed what he was capable of.
The Patriots brought in Randy Moss, who many said was washed up, and the two went on to the most historic single season any QB-WR combo has ever had. Brady ended up with a record 50 touchdown passes, while Moss hauled in a record 23 touchdown grabs.
Now sit back and enjoy as I take you through the five best passes of Tom Brady's career...so far.
New England Patriots vs Jacksonville Jaguars Trick Play
Lacks great physical stature and strength.
Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush.
Does not throw a really tight spiral.
System-type player who could get exposed if forced to ad lib.
This was the scouting report on Tom Brady coming out of college. These four criticisms are what sent him down to the sixth round and nearly got him undrafted. These are the same four criticisms that have driven Brady every season to become one of the greatest quarterbacks of our generation, and of all time.
This particular pass play proved every last one of those criticisms wrong.
Brady performed this trick play to perfection with a combination of faking a handoff to Kevin Faulk (33) while also faking a high snap from the shotgun formation that really caught the defense off guard.
By the time Jacksonville realized they had been duped, it was too late. Brady had already strong-armed a tight pass around a leaping linebackers attempt to swat it down, and two defensive backs who tried to close in on an otherwise open Wes Welker (No. 83). This play was later featured in the ESPN documentary "The Brady Six."
New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Flea-Flicker
This flea-flicker comes in at No. 5 partly because it easily could've turned into a disaster, but mostly because of how beautiful it turned out to be.
This particular play occurred during the Patriots' historic 16-0 season, and was easily one of Tom Brady's best passes of his historic 50-touchdown season.
The play appeared to be headed towards disaster as Moss dropped the initial pass, which technically was a lateral so it was a live ball. With two Steeler defenders closing in on him, Moss' quick reflexes and instincts kicked in as he quickly dumped the football back off to a wide open and perfectly protected Brady. With four teammates giving him a cushion, Brady was able to target wide receiver Donte Stallworth for a 56-yard completion and touchdown.
At around the 15-second mark, you can see former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels raise his fist in celebration. It was no doubt McDaniels' evil genius that came up with this play.
New England Patriots vs. New York Jets: Moss Floods Revis Island
Coming in at No. 4 is Randy Moss' one-handed grab over "Revis Island." This pass play has a lot going on for it that makes it so special.
First of all, we all know the reputation Darrelle Revis has at his position. He received the nickname "Revis Island" due to the notion that any wide receiver that lines up against him won't be a factor in the game, as if they were stranded on an island.
New York Jets head coach, Rex Ryan also played a part in this as he is well known for his pep talks, guarantees and just his overall commentary to members of the media.
The Jets and Revis had been talking all week long about how they were going to thoroughly defeat their division-rival New England Patriots and completely shut down Brady's passing game. So with one minute to go in the half, Brady and Moss hooked up down field for a 34-yard touchdown reception over "Revis Island." We're just going to call him Revis from this point on; the island has flooded.
Breaking down the play, Moss beat Revis off the line immediately with a textbook juke that left Revis in his rear view for the remainder of the play. When Moss ran just six yards downfield, he already knew he had Revis beat and immediately threw up his right arm to signal to Brady to let him have it. Brady made a well-placed throw for Moss to make a spectacular one-handed catch out in front of him so Revis wouldn't have an opportunity to swat it down.
The result was six points and Revis clutching his hamstring after Moss' amazing grab—although I think his hamstring area must be where he keeps his pride, because that was the only thing that was really hurting.
New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams: Super Bowl XXXVI the Birth of a Legend
No. 3 features not just one pass, but an entire drive: the drive that made Tom Brady Super Bowl XXXVI MVP; the drive that signaled the official arrival of the next great quarterback.
The setting is Super Bowl XXXVI, the opponent was the heavily favored "Greatest Show on Turf" St. Louis Rams, who were Super Bowl champions just two years prior. It was Brady's true rookie season after only playing in one game and throwing just three passes the year before. It was a game in which the 24-year-old Brady was asked to just play mistake-free football.
With that, Brady took the field and did just that, giving the Patriots four quarters of mistake-free football on the offensive side. With newly acquired running back Antowain Smith leading the charge on the ground, rushing 18 times for 92 yards, and cornerback Ty Law returning an interception from Rams quarterback Kurt Warner for a touchdown. The Patriots were simply outplaying the heavily favored Rams through three quarters of play, before the Rams came charging back putting up 14 points in the fourth quarter.
With the game tied 17-17, 1:30 left in regulation and no timeouts left for New England, the legend of Tom Brady was born.
Color commentator John Madden made a suggestion that New England should just run the clock out and try to win it in overtime. Bill Belichick and the Patriots would have none of it, as Belichick entrusted the entire season on the shoulders of his quarterback. With that, Tom Brady completed one of the most historic drives in NFL history—one that people who watched the 2000 FedEx Orange Bowl, where Brady led the Michigan Wolverines to an overtime victory over the favored Alabama Crimson Tide, weren't surprised about in the least.
New England Patriots vs. New York Giants: No. 50 and No. 23
This particular pass play needs no introduction. It is one of the most historic passes in NFL history. Many might wonder how this particular pass comes in at No. 2; we'll get to that later.
With one pass, Brady and Moss broke two records at once. For Brady, it was his 50th touchdown pass for the season, breaking rival quarterback Peyton Manning's record of 49. For Randy Moss, it was his 23rd touchdown reception on the season, breaking the record long held by San Francisco 49er and NFL Hall of Famer, Jerry Rice.
While some will still say Jerry Rice is the true single-season touchdown reception king because he did it in only 12 games due to a strike-shortened season. The point is moot, just like some still consider Babe Ruth the single-season home run king because he hit more home runs in less games than the three who broke the record after him—a season is a season.
For Brady, it was the second time in four seasons that the single-season touchdown pass record was broken. Manning broke the record in 2004 when he threw his 49th touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley to break Dan Marino's record of 48 set in 1984; it was only Marino's second year in the league.
What makes this play so special besides the two broken records is the fact that they had just run the exact same play before they connected on this one. With Moss gassing himself the first time on an incompletion, the endurance he displayed to run the exact same play again and thoroughly beat his man was extremely remarkable.
New England Patriots vs. Oakland Raiders: The Tuck Rule
Now do you understand why touchdown pass No. 50 fell to No. 2 on the list of Brady's greatest passes?
That's right, Brady's No. 1 pass in his career wasn't even a completion.
I will never forget where I was when I saw this particular play. It was the day I became a New England Patriot fanatic. I was in the workout room of the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri for the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up fundraiser in January. I was enamoured with what was being called the Snow Bowl.
Now, it's known simply as the Tuck Rule Game.
First, let me explain what the Tuck Rule actually is. It was introduced in 1999 and relatively unknown to most except those really familiar with the NFL rulebook. The Tuck Rule, as it was written in the NFL rulebook.
NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2
"When an offensive player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble."
The game was played in heavy snow and windy conditions. The game itself was low scoring throughout due to the weather. With less than two minutes left in the game and the Raiders leading the Patriots 13-10, Tom Brady was tasked with driving the Patriots into field-goal range to send the game into overtime.
With that, Brady dropped back to pass and was hit by star cornerback Charles Woodson who appeared to have forced a fumble that the Raiders pounced on to seemingly lock up the win and appeared headed for the AFC Championship game.
What happened next is best described in the embedded video, because words cannot explain the drama that ensued.
Referees opted to review what appeared to be the game-ending play and came back with a rule that some say has never been enforced before and hasn't been enforced since. It still remains the most controversial call in Oakland Raider history and easily ranks in the top 3 most controversial calls of all time. Everyone had just become intimately familiar with the NFL's new Tuck Rule that debuted just two years prior.
Of course, everyone knows what ensued after the smoke had cleared. New England was given back possession and would not be denied a second time, as they gained the necessary field position for Vinatieri to kick the Patriots into overtime, despite the daunting task of kicking into the wind.
The Patriots would win the coin toss and take possession to start the overtime as Brady drove the Patriots 61 yards, completing eight passes for 45 yards. On 4th-and-4 on the Raider 28, the Patriots took a major role of the dice as they decided to go for it to get Vinatieri closer into field-goal position. Brady converted on a six-yard pass that set up Vinatieri nicely for a 23-yard field goal which he successfully booted through the uprights.
This would give Vinatieri the nickname of "Automatic Adam" and the Patriots would go on to win both the AFC Championship game against the Steelers, and their first Super Bowl title in franchise history against the St. Louis Rams.
To My Father, Tom Goodman and Bears Fans Around the Country...
Brady jukes Brian Urlacher right out of his jock
Thanks everyone for checking out the top five passes of Tom Brady's career so far. I hope you've enjoyed the countdown as much as I've enjoyed putting it together.
To wrap things up, I dedicate this final video to my father just to bust his Bears-lovin' chops. Please watch as Brady goes head up with one of the most feared linebackers in the league, Chicago Bear Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher. Check out how Brady jukes Urlacher right out of his jock!
Thanks again everyone, and be sure to like the article and become a fan of yours truly!