Tom Brady reaching the conference championship game seems like a rite of passage in the NFL, no matter what franchise he is the starting quarterback for. Ten of the last 11 conference championship games have featured Brady as a starting quarterback, all of which have come after Brady turned 34 years old -- when a football player is supposedly past the prime of his career.
What Brady has accomplished is incredible, and even more astonishing considering he's now made the conference championship game in both the AFC and NFC -- at the age of 43 to boot. Brady will be facing Aaron Rodgers in the postseason for the first time Sunday, while also playing in the NFC Championship Game for the first time. He's just the fourth quarterback to start both conference championship games, joining Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs), Jay Schroeder (Washington and Los Angeles Raiders), and Craig Morton (Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos).
As Brady prepares to start his 14th -- yes 14th -- conference championship game, this week's "By the Numbers" will take a look at all his achievements in the postseason and his incredible statistics compared to other quarterbacks during conference championship weekend.
Tom Brady's championship game stats
- Completions -- 304 (1st)
- Passing yards -- 3,394 (1st)
- Touchdown passes -- 18 (1st)
- Interceptions -- 14 (1st)
- Passer rating -- 83.3 (33rd)
- Wins -- 9 (1st)
- Losses -- 4 (T-1st)
- Appearances -- 14 (1st)
Brady has double the championship game starts for a quarterback than second place on the all-time list (Joe Montana has seven). He has nine wins in the conference championship game, and a 10th win Sunday would double second place on the all-time list (Roger Staubach and John Elway each have five wins).
Brady needs just 68 passing yards to double Joe Montana's total passing yards (1,731) in conference championship games (Montana is second on the all-time list). He's five touchdown passes ahead of Montana for second (Montana has 13), while his 14 interceptions and 20 sacks in the conference championship game are the most all-time -- which happens when a quarterback has played in 13 conference title games.
These numbers are nearly enough for a full season's body of work, making Brady's 14 conference championship game starts even more impressive. Let's take a look at Brady's career in the postseason:
Tom Brady's postseason stats (rank since merger)
- Completions -- 1,065 (1st)
- Passing yards -- 11,968 (1st)
- Touchdown passes -- 77 (1st)
- Interceptions -- 35 (1st)
- Passer rating -- 90.2 (20th)
- Wins -- 32 (1st)
- Losses -- 11 (T-2nd)
- Appearances -- 43 (1st)
Brady has played 18 seasons with a playoff game, the most in NFL history. His 43 playoff appearances are more than 20 NFL teams have in their franchise history (tied with Washington Football Team). He has more playoff wins (32) than all but five franchises. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots have more -- and Brady has 30 of the Patriots' playoff wins.
If one adds Brady's playoff stats to the regular season, Brady is the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards (91,972) and passing touchdowns (658). His 262 wins are the most ever by a starting quarterback and his 37 comeback wins (down by 10-plus points in a game) are the most in NFL history.
Last but not least, Brady is in the midst of one of the greatest seasons of his career at 43 years old, taking the Buccaneers to the NFC championship in his first season with the team. Here are some statistics from Brady's 2020 season:
Tom Brady in 2020
- Completions -- 401 (2nd)
- Completion percentage -- 65.7% (19th)
- Passing yards -- 4,633 (3rd)
- Pass touchdowns -- 40 (T-2nd)
- Touchdown percentage -- 6.6 (6th)
- Yards per attempt -- 7.6 (11th)
- Passer rating -- 102.2 (9th)
Brady has only been with the Buccaneers one season, but is the franchise's single-season leader in completion percentage (minimum 400 attempts), touchdown passes, touchdown percentage and passer rating -- while ranking second in passing yards. He may be the best quarterback in Buccaneers postseason history as well, despite playing just one season with the team. Brady's 580 passing yards are the second-most in Buccaneers postseason history and he needs just 91 more to pass Brad Johnson (670) for first. His four passing touchdowns are the second-most in Buccaneers postseason history and he needs one more to tie Johnson (five) for the most postseason passing touchdowns in team history.
Brady has saved his best football for the end of the season. During Tampa Bay's six-game winning streak, Brady is averaging 318.8 passing yards a game and 9.2 yards per attempt with 16 touchdown passes to just one interception. He's thrown multiple touchdown passes in nine straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL and his longest since 2015 (12 straight). In his past 12 games, Brady has completed 73% of his passes with 10 touchdowns and one interception in the fourth quarter. His 16 touchdown passes on third down are the most in the NFL this year. Brady also leads the NFL in completions and passing yards on throws of 20-plus air yards while tying for first in touchdown passes that traveled for 20-plus air yards.
Brady will be the first quarterback since the NFL merger to start a conference championship in three different decades (2000s, 2010s, 2020s) and is 8-1 in conference title games where he isn't facing Peyton Manning (1-3 against Manning). Brady is accomplished so much in a Hall of Fame career, and is the undisputed greatest quarterback in NFL history.
Sunday could be the final time NFL fans see Brady in the conference championship game, but the NFL knows never to doubt what "Tom Terrific" can accomplish in his 40s.