It’s almost too fitting that arguably the greatest Super Bowl performer of all-time ended his career in the period between the conference championship games and the big game. Tom Brady’s remarkable 23-year NFL career has come to an end, and he leaves behind a legacy that will be awfully hard to top.
As we get ready for Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, let’s take a look back at some of Brady’s most memorable Super Bowl moments.
Super Bowl XXXVI
While most people remember the time the New England Patriots came into a Super Bowl undefeated only to lose to the New York Giants, there was another pretty surprising upset that took place earlier that decade. Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 involved the Patriots against the “Greatest Show On Turf” St. Louis Rams, and most believed it was a foregone conclusion that the latter would be on the beneficial end of a blowout.
That ended up being very far from the case. Thanks to Bill Belichick’s intelligent and well-run defense, the Patriots contained the Rams’ high-powered attack, and made them play an uncomfortably close contest. While New England gets a ton of credit for stifling Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and the rest of the Rams’ skill position players, their offense still needed to make plays to win the game.
On the final drive, a young Tom Brady helped cobble together a clutch sequence of plays that would set Adam Vinatieri up for the game-winning kick. It’s where his legend truly began.
Super Bowl LI
Another indelible Super Bowl moment came in 2017, as the New England Patriots made a ferocious comeback to defeat the Atlanta Falcons.
In a very un-Patriot like fashion, New England initially seemed ill-prepared for the big game, as the Falcons raced out to a 28-3 lead. No one had seen a team have their way with the Patriots that badly for a very long time, and it felt like the contest was over before it even began.
However, through a barrage of pinpoint passes and a plethora of poise, Brady began to dig his team out of the hole. Even though the Falcons knew what was coming, they couldn’t contain Brady, who ended up with 466 yards passing and two touchdowns. Running back James White punched in the winning touchdown in overtime, which cemented yet another ring for Brady and the Patriots.
Super Bowl LV
After an unprecedented run of success in New England, Brady left the only team he had ever known to take his talents south to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a monumental news story, as it would be extremely compelling to see whether he could continue his elite play in a different city.
It turned out that he would be able to do just that, surrounded by better skill position players than New England had when he left. Longtime favorite target Rob Gronkowski also came out of retirement, and gave Brady a familiar face in a new place.
Super Bowl LV against the Chiefs put the punctuation mark on Brady’s career, proving to everyone that he was not a product of the New England infrastructure or of Bill Belichick. Brady threw for three touchdowns and earned his seventh ring in that tilt.