Tom Brady will appear in a record ninth Super Bowl, four more appearances than the next closest quarterback (John Elway). All eight of the Super Bowls he has thus far participated in were inarguably classics, but were they all Tom Brady classics? For the most part, yes.
Which was the best of the best, though? The following rankings are based not only on statistics in the Big Game, but also signature plays from Brady, as well as his 4th quarter performances and game-winning drives.
This is the definitive ranking of Tom Brady’s Super Bowls.
New York Giants 17 – New England Patriots 14
Brady’s Stat Line: 29-48, 266 yards, 1 TD, 82.5 passer rating
This Super Bowl could so easily have been ranked as Brady’s best. It was an opportunity to cement not only his own legacy but the dynastic legacy of the New England Patriots with an opportunity to finish a season 19-0.
Of course, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning had other ideas. The most famous play from this game, no question, was Manning’s miraculous escape from a vicious Patriots pass rush, followed by a deep ball that was caught on the helmet of receiver David Tyree. Shortly after, Plaxico Burress would snag the game-winning touchdown.
Many people have argued that this Super Bowl, in particular, wrote the blueprint for how to beat Tom Brady. The Patriots quarterback was harassed by a tenacious New York pass rush, led by Hall of Fame edge rusher Michael Strahan, as the Giants sacked Brady five times for a whopping 37 yards. You’ll still hear to this day that Giants’ then-head coach Tom Coughlin invented the scheme to beat Brady by bringing pressure without blitzing. Of course, later Super Bowls (not to mention an AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars) would prove that sometimes not even that is enough.
In this game, however, it toppled Brady. He threw only one touchdown to Randy Moss late in the fourth quarter to take a 14-10 lead. The lead, of course, would not hold up; and Brady was unable to put together a final drive as he missed on deep attempts to close out his first Super Bowl loss in his fourth appearance.
New York Giants 21 – New England Patriots 17
Brady’s Stat Line: 27-41, 276 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 91.1 passer rating
This game did not start off well for the Patriots. After managing to get off the field against Eli Manning’s offense, the Giants pinned New England on their own six-yard line with a Steve Weatherford punt. What came next was one of the worst plays of Brady’s illustrious career. On the first snap of the evening, Brady found himself under heavy pressure from the Giants pass rush (a theme of the two Giants’ Super Bowls) as Justin Tuck nailed him in the end zone. Brady got the pass off, deep over the middle of the field to nobody, for what would be ruled intentional grounding resulting in a safety.
Things went from bad to worse when Eli threw a touchdown pass to Victor Cruz on the following possession to take an early 9-0 lead. Brady, however, would lead a short-lived Patriots comeback that would end up in a 17-9 lead early in the third quarter. However, New England was unable to come up with anything after that, as Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul continued to pressure Brady. Early in the 4th quarter, Brady was able to escape a heavy rush by the Giants, but slightly underthrew a deep attempt for Rob Gronkowski. The ball was intercepted by Chase Blackburn, and the Patriots would go on to lose the game.
New England Patriots 24 – Philadelphia Eagles 21
Brady’s Stat Line: 23-33, 236 yards, 2 TDs, 110.2 passer rating
Now we’re venturing into Vintage Tom Brady territory. The GOAT was as good as advertised on this Sunday evening against the Philadelphia Eagles, despite the low yardage total and lack of being named game MVP.
That’s not to say he didn’t have a hand in the MVP’s day. Brady completed 11 of his 23 completions to wide receiver and game MVP Deion Branch, who racked up 133 yards against the Eagles secondary. Brady was able to operate with a mostly clean pocket while giving Branch the opportunity to out-duel the Eagles future Hall of Fame receiver Terrell Owens.
This game, however, did not feature one of Brady’s trademark game-winning drives, and he didn’t factor much into the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter, leading to its position on this list.
New England Patriots 20 – St. Louis Rams 17
Brady’s Stat Line: 16-27, 145 yards, 1 TD, 86.2 rating, Super Bowl MVP
The one that started it all. When you hear talk of Sunday being a “rematch”, this is, of course, the game they’re talking about. The game that ended The Greatest Show on Turf, and sparked a dynasty.
Statistically, this was arguably Brady’s worst performance in the Super Bowl. However, it marked his first signature moment as the Patriot quarterback. Who hasn’t seen the video of a youthful looking Tom Brady, wearing a Super Bowl Champions hat with his hands on his head while confetti falls around him?
Brady struggled early in this game, missing on five straight passes at one point in the first and second quarter, as the Bill Belichick relied heavily on short passing and the run game in the first half. To close the half, however, Brady found a rhythm before hitting David Patten in the end zone for a touchdown to take a 14-3 lead into the locker room.
The Rams battled back in the second half, as the Patriots offense continued to struggle, and the Patriots found themselves tied 17-17 with 1:21 left in the game. It was all Tom Brady from here, and he connected five of his eight pass attempts to set up a 48-yard game winner for Adam Vinatieri.
The rest, as they say, is history.
New England Patriots 32 – Carolina Panthers 29
Brady’s Stat Line: 32-48, 354 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 100.5 passer rating, Super Bowl MVP
You can be damn sure Tom Brady earned the Super Bowl’s MVP award in this game. After a fairly lethargic first three quarters, in which the Patriots grabbed a 14-10 lead, this game absolutely erupted into a frenzy. The Panthers and Patriots would combine to score 37 points in the final quarter of this game.
The fourth quarter started with a rushing touchdown for the Pats, followed swiftly by two Panthers touchdowns, including an 85-yard bomb from quarterback Jake Delhomme. The Patriots responded with trickeration, as linebacker Mike Vrabel lined up as a tight end on the one-yard line and caught a touchdown from Brady.
With 1:08 left in the game and the score knotted at 29 apiece, Brady did what he seemingly always does, and led the Patriots down the field quickly to set up another game-winning field goal for Vinatieri.
Philadelphia Eagles 41 – New England Patriots 33
Brady’s Stat Line: 28-48, 505 yards, 3 TDs, 115.4 passer rating
This was, statistically, the greatest Super Bowl a quarterback has ever played in NFL history. It was, in fact, better than the game Nick Foles put together for the opposing (and winning) team. Brady’s performance in this game was nothing short of mythical. And yet, because of the ending, it sits at just third.
Tom Brady did things in this game at one time thought impossible. For one, he was 40 years old, which will be trumped only by Tom Brady himself when he starts the Super Bowl at 41 on Sunday. He threw for 505 yards on just 28 completions. He came back from multiple deficits, including one in the fourth quarter. And finally, in the least Tom Brady fashion, he committed a turnover that virtually ended the game.
Everything that came before it is unfortunately marred by the strip sack fumble caused by fellow University of Michigan alum Brandon Graham. The Wolverine-on-Wolverine crime sealed an unhappy fate to what would have been, by far, Brady’s greatest Super Bowl effort ever. Having just overcome a 29-19 third quarter deficit to take a 33-32 lead late into the fourth quarter, Brady found himself again trailing 38-33 after Foles marched the Eagles down the field late. With over two minutes left, Brady seemed poised to add yet another game-winning drive to his trophy case, but fumbled it away.
New England Patriots 34 – Atlanta Falcons 28
Brady’s Stat Line: 43-62, 466 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 95.2 passer rating, Super Bowl MVP
You must be wondering how this could possibly not be number one. An explanation of what happened in this game is almost beyond necessity.
Indeed, the Patriots, and Brady were able to overcome an impossible 28-3 deficit that was still in place with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Brady orchestrated five consecutive pitch perfect drives to force the first overtime in Super Bowl history while also posting one of his most impressive Super Bowl stat lines.
True, Brady set a passing yards record in this game that would only be broken by himself the following year, and true, he won his record-breaking fifth Super Bowl and also record-breaking fourth Super Bowl MVP. Also true that he put together one of the most unbelievable fourth quarters in history, going 22-28 for 246 yards and a touchdown in only the final frame.
And yet, there is one that stands out even against this ethereal comeback.
New England Patriots 28 – Seattle Seahawks 24
Brady’s Stat Line: 37-50, 328 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 101.1 passer rating, Super Bowl MVP
This game did not have a favorite. It’s unusual, given that the Patriots have grown accustomed to being heavily favored in Super Bowls. Here, however, against arguably the greatest pass defense ever assembled, was a pick ’em a line.
The Seattle Seahawks had the makings of a dynasty. Having brutalized Peyton Manning‘s Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl one year prior, and forming the devastating secondary known as the Legion of Boom, it felt as though Brady’s quest for a fourth ring would be lengthened a third time.
It felt even more like Brady’s wait would continue when the Patriots entered the final quarter of the game trailing 24-14 against (this may have been mentioned) one of the greatest secondaries to ever grace a gridiron. The Seahawks defense had a way of making a 10 point lead feel like 100. And yet, the GOAT put together the greatest single frame of his unbelievably great career.
In the fourth quarter, Brady annihilated Seattle’s secondary with surgical precision, completing 16 of his 18 attempts for 130 yards, two touchdowns, and a 140.1 passer rating. It was Brady’s version of the Thanos Snap. Yes, Pete Carroll‘s brain-melting certainly came with the assist, but Brady is the reason they were in that situation in the first place. Like a Dementor, he sucked the soul from the Seahawks in the final quarter of the Super Bowl and added a fourth Super Bowl ring to his collection.
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