Think about this for a second: Tom Brady has been an NFL player longer than he hasn’t been an NFL player.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback announced his retirement from professional football at age 45 on Wednesday following a 23-year playing career split between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was the second consecutive Feb. 1 on which Brady announced his retirement (doing that a day before Groundhog Day is rather ironic, no?) but this time Brady insisted he’s stepping away “for good.”
Brady holds many individual NFL records but he is most acclaimed for being the winningest quarterback in NFL history both in the regular- and post-season.
As of his latest retirement announcement he has appeared in 18 per cent of all Super Bowls and his seven individual championship rings are more than any of the 32 franchises.
Keeping his championship mettle in mind, we wanted to look back and try to rank all 10 of his Super Bowl performances.
10. SUPER BOWL LIII – Feb 3, 2019
Final score: Patriots 13, Rams 3
Brady’s passer rating: 71.3
Was he Super Bowl MVP? No (Julian Edelman won it)
If you weren’t a Patriots fan or a staunch supporter of punts and minimal gains amidst lockdown defence, then you likely weren’t entertained by this Super Bowl matchup. Brady finished 21 of 35 passing for 262 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. A win’s a win, a ring’s a ring, and this ended up being Brady’s sixth and final championship as a member of the Patriots.
9. SUPER BOWL XLII – Feb 3, 2008
Final score: Giants 17, Patriots 14
Brady’s passer rating: 82.5
Super Bowl MVP? No (Eli Manning won it)
Relative to expectations, this is probably Brady’s worst Super Bowl appearance even if the numbers don’t suggest it. The Patriots went 16-0 during the regular season and had beaten both the Jaguars and Chargers each by two scores to reach the Super Bowl following a two-year absence and were double-digit favourites over the wild-card-seeded Giants. Brady was coming off a record-setting regular season and won his first league MVP award but New York’s tough defensive front kept Brady under pressure and held him to modest numbers: 266 yards, one lost fumble, and only one TD pass (it was Randy Moss’s first and only career touchdown in the Super Bowl). This was the game that featured Manning’s iconic and improbable helmet-catch connection with David Tyree.
8. SUPER BOWL XLVI – Feb 5, 2012
Final score: Giants 21, Patriots 17
Brady’s passer rating: 91.1
Super Bowl MVP? No (Eli Manning won his second)
Brady opened the scoring in this one…except it was when he handed the Giants two points in the opening quarter because of an intentional grounding call while he was in his own end zone. The Patriots were down 9-0 after the first 15 minutes before Brady led a comeback. He had 276 yards, one interception and threw a pair of touchdown passes to Danny Woodhead and Aaron Hernandez before the Giants’ defence locked down and didn’t allow a point in the final quarter and a half.
7. SUPER BOWL XXXIX – Feb 6, 2005
Final score: Patriots 24, Eagles 21
Brady’s passer rating: 110.2
Super Bowl MVP? No (Deion Branch won it)
Brady wasn’t and didn’t need to be as busy or as flashy as Donovan McNabb in his game. The Eagles starter put up a hefty 357 passing yards (122 of which were thanks to a gutsy Terrell Owens performance), three TD passes, plus 60 rushing yards and an additional TD using his legs. However, McNabb had three interceptions and a fumble. Brady had 236 yards on 23 completions with two passing TDs. He also fumbled the ball once but none of his 10 incompletions were picked off. This time Adam Vinatieri’s eventual winning field goal happened midway through the fourth quarter instead of capping off a final drive.
6. SUPER BOWL XXXVI – Feb 3, 2002
Final score: Patriots 20, Rams 17
Brady’s passer rating: 86.2
Super Bowl MVP? Yes (first of his career)
Brady’s lone touchdown pass during New England’s three-game playoff run that season was an eight-yard connection with David Patten in the second quarter of the Super Bowl. In fact, Brady only completed 16 of 27 pass attempts for 145 yards versus the Rams. New England’s defence held strong against The Greatest Show on Turf by allowing just 17 points and forcing three turnovers, including a Ty Law pick-six off Kurt Warner who was pressured on the play by current Titans coach Mike Vrabel. Law probably should’ve been named this game’s MVP, but the win is remembered for Brady’s first of multiple Super Bowl-winning drives.
No timeouts, 1:21 remaining on the clock, the drive beginning at the New England 17-yard line. Brady’s steady march downfield moments after John Madden had finished saying on the broadcast he thought the Patriots should conservatively run out the clock and play for overtime. Brady’s two-minute drill set up an Adam Vinatieri game-winning, walk-off field goal.
His four-quarter performance was forgettable overall, however that iconic winning drive was the first real indication Brady was on his way to becoming the G.O.A.T.
5. SUPER BOWL XXXVIII – Feb 1, 2004
Final score: Patriots 32, Panthers 29
Brady’s passer rating: 100.5
Super Bowl MVP? Yes (second of his career)
Brady leaned heavily on Deion Branch, David Givens and Troy Brown, who were targeted a combined 34 times on 48 total pass attempts, as he threw for 354 yards, three touchdowns plus his first Super Bowl interception to out-duel Jake Delhomme who also threw for 300-plus and three TDs. Brady added another Super Bowl-winning drive to his resume after taking advantage of beneficial field position after Carolina’s kicker booted a kickoff out of bounds after the Panthers tied the game 29-29. Brady got his team into field goal range and Vinatieri kicked the winning 41-yarder with four seconds remaining.
4. SUPER BOWL XLIX – Feb 1, 2015
Final score: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24
Brady’s passer rating: 101.1
Super Bowl MVP? Yes (third of his career)
Brady was intercepted twice in this back-and-forth matchup, sure, but he also went 37 of 50 for 328 yards and added four touchdown passes, often relying on Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman to disrupt Seattle’s Legion of Boom. The Patriots were on the verge of giving up a go-ahead score and losing a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance but instead of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch the Seahawks called a pass play and Malcolm Butler stepped up with one of the great defensive plays in Super Bowl history to seal the victory.
3. SUPER BOWL LV – Feb 7, 2021
Final score: Buccaneers 31, Chiefs 9
Brady’s passer rating: 125.8
Super Bowl MVP? Yes (fifth of career)
The unofficial MVP of this game was a Tampa Bay defence that took advantage of a banged-up Kansas City offensive line. The Bucs held the league’s No. 1-seeded Chiefs to single digit points, sacking Patrick Mahomes thrice, intercepting him twice and forcing a fumble. Brady did more than his fair share, though, and set the pace in the opening half. He had no turnovers and was supremely efficient tossing a pair of TDs to Gronk and one to Antonio Brown. That he capped off his debut season with the Buccaneers by winning his seventh Super Bowl ring added to the weight of this performance.
2. SUPER BOWL LII – Feb 4, 2018
Final score: Eagles 41, Patriots 33
Brady’s passer rating: 115.4
Super Bowl MVP? No (Nick Foles won it)
Arguably the best individual performance of Brady’s Super Bowl career occurred in one of his three losses. Brady and the Patriots went toe to toe with the Eagles in a high-scoring, record-setting, back-and-forth contest. While his completion percentage left much to be desired, Brady went 28 of 48 and posted 505 yards through the air against a strong Philadelphia secondary and had three touchdowns in the second half. He broke his own Super Bowl passing yards record and picked up several clutch first downs while averaging more than 18 yards per completion with no interceptions. Unfortunately, a costly fumble with roughly two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter halted New England’s late comeback attempt.
1. SUPER BOWL LI – Feb 5, 2017
Final score: Patriots 34, Falcons 28
Brady’s passer rating: 95.2
Super Bowl MVP? Yes (fourth of his career)
This is the infamous 28-3 game in which Brady and the Patriots set a Super Bowl record for biggest comeback and the record for biggest fourth-quarter comeback in an NFL playoff game. The league’s reigning MVP Matt Ryan only had six incompletions for the Falcons, who held that 25-point lead late into the third quarter. Between some questionable strategy and play-calling from Atlanta, New England’s defence turning up the heat, plus Brady’s composure taking over and clutch gene kicking in, the Patriots began chipping away at what seemed like an insurmountable lead. Brady threw only two touchdown passes and had a second-quarter pick six but he finished by setting then-Super Bowl records with 43 completions, 62 attempts and 466 passing yards.
Brady led a two-minute drill and the Pats tied the game with less than a minute remaining in regulation. The Patriots won the overtime coin toss, marched down the field and James White (who also had a strong claim to win MVP) scored his third TD of the game. It’s the only Super Bowl to date to require overtime.