Tom Brady did it again! He has defied the odds and led the Patriots to their record 10th Super Bowl in pursuit of his sixth championship in eight trips to the big game, and did so with another playoff comeback for the ages.
It seems like every time every comeback is more iconic than the last one. Today we will put this theory to the test and rank his eight fourth-quarter comebacks from 1-8. Let’s get started
- #8 2006 AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS VS THE SAN DEIGO CHARGERS (24-21): The San Deigo Chargers looked like a Super Bowl team for the duration of the 2006 regular season, taking a 14-2 record and the AFC’s #1 seed into the playoffs. What awaited them after their first-round bye was a Patriots team that they were supposed to steamroll en route to a championship opportunity. But just like every other comeback on this list, things didn’t quite go the way they were “supposed” to. The Chargers had an eight point lead in the final quarter but Tom Brady led the Patriots downfield to set up one of the wackiest plays you’ll ever see. Brady threw an interception to Marlon McCree but Pats wideout Troy Brown knocked the ball loose and Reche Caldwell recovered it to give the Patriots another chance to tie the game and they capitalized. After tying the game at 21 and forcing the Chargers to punt, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a game-winning field goal.
- #7 2011 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME VS THE BALTIMORE RAVENS (23-20): These two teams spent four quarters trading punches in what is widely regarded as one of the greatest conference championship games ever. Each team took everything the other could throw at them and kept fighting. Trailing by four early in the final quarter, Brady led the Patriots to the end zone scoring a touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak. The defense would buckle down and force the Ravens to attempt a 32-yard field goal that would’ve sent the game into overtime. However, Billy Cundiff missed the kick and the Patriots were headed back to the Super Bowl. This comeback was great because it showed grit. Brady had to fight to get everything he got in this game, including a victory.
- #6 2001 AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS VS THE OAKLAND RAIDERS (16-13): The comeback that started it all (aka the “tuck rule” game). With a 13-3 lead in a snowstorm, the Raiders were thought to be in control of the game and cruising to their second consecutive AFC championship game appearance. Nobody relayed this information to Tom Brady. Brady scored on a six-yard scamper to cut the lead to 13-10. What happened after this will live in infamy. With 1:50 left in the game,Brady dropped back to pass pump faked and was hit by his college teammate Charles Woodson. The ball was knocked free in the process and the Raiders recovered to seemingly end the game. After video review the call of a fumble was reversed to an incomplete pass and this gave the Pats another chance to tie the game. They capitalized on their second chance and Adam Vinatieri made two iconic field goals (one to tie the game and another to win it in overtime). Somehow the refs found enough evidence to overturn the call of a fumble. The ruling in this case was centered around the “tuck rule.” This rule stated that; “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”(source: NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2; rule abolished in 2013). Without this controversy, Brady would not have five rings and this would’ve been another boring football game dominated by defense. It’s funny how one strange rule can create history.
- #5 2014 AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS VS THE BALTIMORE RAVENS (35-31): Much like the 2011 AFC Championship Game, both teams let it all hang out. The Ravens jumped out a 14-0 lead in the early, but the Patriots tied the game late in the second quarter. The Ravens would capitalize on a Tom Brady interception to score a touchdown just before halftime and scored another touchdown in the third quarter to open up their secon 14-point lead of the game. The Patriots would come back once again though (with the help of some one not named Tom Brady throwing a touchdown pass). Former college quarterback and current wideout Julian Edelman caught a backward pass from Brady and threw a perfect ball to Danny Amendola for a 51 yard touchdown to tie the game in what is considered to be one of the greatest plays in NFL history. The Patriots defense would hold the Ravens in check for the rest of the game and Brady threw a game-winning touchdown with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. It seems that every victory over the Ravens displays the toughness of Brady and the Pats. To come back from two 14-point deficits is the definition of greatness. No matter what the situation, if Tom Brady has a football in his hands then the game is far from over.
- #4 SUPER BOWL 38 VS the CAROLINA PANTHERS (32-29): If you were to rank the Super Bowls from top to bottom, Super Bowl 38 would either be number one or pretty close to the top. The Patriots and Panthers battled back and forth for 60 minutes. This game actually set a Super Bowl record for the the latest that the first points were scored as Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass to Deion Branch with 3:05 left in the second quarter to give the Patriots a 7-0 lead. The Pats would score another touchdown in the final three minutes while the Panthers added a touchdown and a field goal in the final three minutes after the first half to make the halftime score 14-10 in favor of the Patriots. Than came a defensively dominated third quarter in which no points were scored. An action packed fourth quarter more than made up for this though. The two teams combined for 37 points. Brady and Panthers quarterback Jake Delhome both threw two touchdown passes in the final frame but Brady’s second one was thrown to the most unlikely receiver. Linebacker Mike Vrabel hauled in a one-yard pass to give the Patriots a 29-22 lead. Delhome would tie the game, but the Panthers gave Brady the Ball near midfield with just over a minute left and Brady also had Adam Vinatieri as his kicker (which translates to what today’s kids would say is “light work”). Brady methodically moved the Patriots into Vinatieri’s range to set up a last-minute 41 yard field goal attempt which Vinatieri nailed with four seconds left. This win gave the Patriots their second Super Bowl championship in three years (they would defeat the Eagles a year later to make it three in four years). It also showed the world that you can never count Brady out. Side note:
Writing about this game provides goosebumps. I can still hear Greg Gumble exclaim “looks good, is good!!” as Vinatieri’s kick sailed through the uprights.
- #3 2017 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME VS THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (24-20): Everybody saw this comeback coming, there was essentially nothing that could be done to prevent it. The Patriots were down 10 in the fourth quarter to a Jaguars team that was playing what seemed to be perfect football. The only problem is, they were up against the greatest quarterback and head coach of all time in Brady and Bill Belichick, both of whom thrive in the situation that the Jaguars put them in. The Patriots defense buckled down in the final quarter and Brady picked apart the Jags,throwing two touchdowns to Danny “Playoff” Amendola to give the Patriots a 24-20 lead. The defense then forced a turnover on downs with an acrobatic pass deflection by Stephon Gilmore on fourth down. The Pats would then run out the clock en route to Brady’s eighth trip to the Super Bowl. What makes this comeback special is the acknowledgment that if you play the way Jacksonville did against any other quarterback, you are going to the Super Bowl. The Jaguars did nothing to lose the game but Tom Brady and the Patriots did everything to win.
- #2 SUPER BOWL 49 VS THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (28-24): Only Tom Brady can make a 10 point comeback in the final quarter of the Super Bowl look like a Friday morning walk-through. Brady surgically moved the ball downfield twice against the great Seahawks defense to take the lead. Brady only threw two incompletions in the final quarter. The Seahawks had a chance with the ball on the one-yard line with 26 seconds left, but then they did the seemingly unthinkable. Instead of running the ball with Marshawn Lynch, they elected to throw and Russell Wilson’s pass was intercepted by Malcolm Butler at the goal line. An offsides penalty gave the Patriots an opportunity to get away from the goal line and a brawl incited by Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin allowed the Patriots to take another knee and run out the clock. This was probably the most efficient comeback of Brady’s career.
- #1 SUPER BOWL 51 VS THE ATLANTA FALCONS: If anybody ever bets against Tom Brady or says there’s no way he can lead the Patriots to another comeback, show them this game. The Falcons were dominating Brady and the Patriots and were in complete control of Super Bowl 51, having a 28-3 lead with 8:31 left in the third quarter. Apparently nobody relayed this information to Brady and the Patriots. The team and its fans never lost hope. I remember thinking to myself (and telling everyone I could at a Super Bowl party) “there’s no other quarterback that I would want if I was down 28-3 in a Super Bowl” and “if he pulls off this comeback then he’s the greatest ever.” Perhaps my words somehow reached Brady’s ears because those points that the Falcons scored in the third quarter would be the last as the Patriots Scott 28 unanswered points in regulation and added a touchdown run by James White in overtime to complete the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. It almost seemed like being down 28-3 didn’t phase Brady as he chipped away at the lead one play at a time. Any other quarterback would probably just accept the loss and prepare for a long offseason. But, his name is Tom Brady and not any other quarterback. What made this comeback even sweeter was seeing Roger Goodell hand Brady the trophy after spending two years chipping away at his reputation in the “deflate-gate” debacle. Perhaps that very moment is what motivated Brady.