As you may have heard a time or two over the past few weeks, Tom Brady's days with the New England Patriots are kaput. The six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback put an end to his two-decade run with Bill Belichick and company after entering free agency for the first time in his career and inking a deal to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Of course, there are plenty of topics that have been and will be discussed ad nauseam as it relates to how both Brady and the Patriots will do without one another, but we decided to look back at what we had just witness over the last 20 years. Myself and CBS Sports' Pete Blackburn -- two Boston-based writers -- joined host Will Brinson on Wednesday's Pick Six Podcast (subscribe here for daily NFL goodness) and broke down the top five moments of Tom Brady's tenure with New England.
We each came up with our own top five moments and then came up with a consensus list based off all that. Now, it'd be easy to simply place a bunch of Super Bowls inside the top five because the quarterback has given the franchise more than a handful of titles, but that'd be boring. In the spirit of shaking things up, we did try to keep the championships to a minimum, but naturally placed some of the finest Lombardi efforts at the top.
As we all try to find things to pass the time during this unprecedented period in the world, you fine folks at home can listen to us stroll down memory lane about Brady in the link below, and you can also get a nice recap of what we discussed below that.
No. 5 - Week 6, 2013: Game-winner vs. Saints
For those outside of New England (like Brinson), this game may not exactly be on your radar of signature Tom Brady moments. For Patriots and Boston sports fans, however, this was a day to remember.
The Patriots were facing the New Orleans Saints and were down 27-23 in the fourth quarter and Brady had just thrown an interception with 2:24 to play. Normally, that would likely put the game to rest, but New England's defense was able to force a three-and-out, which gave Brady a shot at redemption. The quarterback then took the ball at the Patriots 30 yard line and -- without any timeouts -- marched the offense down the field for what was one of the more miraculous comebacks of his career.
On that game-winning drive, Brady completed passes to an Island of Misfit Toys collection of receivers like Austin Collie, Aaron Dobson and, of course, rookie Kenbrell Thompkins, who caught a 17-yard pass from Brady with just seconds left on the clock to give the Patriots the go-ahead score. This game also featured the iconic "unicorns, show ponies" call by Patriots radio color analyst Scott Zolak, which added even more madness to the comeback.
Not only was this a historic day for Brady, but this game also played a major part in one of the greatest sports days in Boston's history.
"The thing about this that I remember most vividly is that it's paired with the David Ortiz grand slam in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers," Blackburn said on the podcast. "The Patriots and Brady won on the Thompkins TD at the end of that game in the afternoon and it led directly into that ALCS game where Ortiz ties it with the grand slam against the Tigers. It was just one of the best sports days of my life where it was just back-to-back unbelievable legendary games."
No. 4 - Week 6, 2009: Six touchdown game vs. Titans
Sometimes, you just need to flex your powers and that's exactly what Brady and the Patriots did here. The quarterback, while sporting the classic Pat Patriot red jerseys, stepped on the field at Gillette Stadium during a blizzard and tossed six (!) touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans, which was one shy of the NFL record for a game.
Randy Moss had eight receptions for 129 yards and three touchdowns, while Wes Welker caught 10 passes for 150 yards and two scores. On top of those six scores, Brady completed 29 of his 34 passes for 380 yards. Brian Hoyer even got into the game and threw 11 passes, which shows just how much of a bloodbath this game turned out to be.
The 2009 campaign wasn't the most fruitful for New England, as it finished at 10-6 and lost to the Ravens on Wild Card Weekend, but this game was where Brady showed just how dominant he can be and serves as a great reminder of just how prolific the offense was over the course of that stretch when Moss and Welker were at his disposal.
No. 3 - Super Bowl XLIX
"The greatest Super Bowl game I've seen in person," said Brinson of the Patriots' 28-24 win over the Seahawks to cap off the 2014 season.
Not only do I agree with Brinson that this was the greatest Super Bowl of all-time, but -- to pull the curtain back for a minute -- I had this game as my No. 1 Tom Brady moment when we did our rankings.
This Super Bowl had so much riding on Tom Brady's legacy. He and the Patriots hadn't won a title since beating the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX and Brady had moved to 3-2 in the big game, losing to the New York Giants twice. If he were to fall again, Brady would have been .500 in the Super Bowls he reached. If he were to pull off a victory, he'd not only move to 4-2 in Super Bowls, but he'd match Joe Montana in titles and further state the case that he'd surpassed him as the greatest quarterback of all-time.
Not only that, but this game also gave New England their first title since the Spygate saga, which shouldn't go unnoticed.
"The reality of the situation is that the Patriots had not won a Super Bowl since Spygate at this point in time," Brinson said. "If the Pats had lost that people would be writing articles questioning whether or not Brady and Belichick could win without the Spygate thing."
In the end, the Patriots were able to pull off the win and get that fourth title in franchise history. While most of us will always remember this game as the "Malcolm Butler interception," Brady was absolutely lights-out in this victory, especially in the fourth quarter. Over that final quarter of play, Brady completed 13 of his 15 passes for 124 and two touchdowns with a 140.7 passer rating. Brady was even more sharpe during New England's go-ahead touchdown drive just prior to the Butler interception as he completed every single one of his passes, including the touchdown throw to Julian Edelman.
No. 2 - Tuck Rule Game / Super Bowl XXXVI
We did kind of cheat here by combining both the Divisional Round/Tuck Rule game and the Patriots' first title in Super Bowl XXXVI, but it'd hard to tell part of this story without the other. After all, this is the team's first championship in its history and the first title in Boston since the 1986 Celtics.
That game vs. Oakland -- the final game in Foxboro Stadium (Jan. 19, 2002) -- was surreal. The region was being blitzed by a snowstorm of epic proportions, Adam Vinatieri was booting through the worst elements imaginable and Brady really gave his first introduction into just how special of a postseason performer he would become. In that win over the Raiders, Brady completed 32 of his 52 passes for 312 yards, one pick and rushed for a touchdown. Of course, Brady did have some luck on his side due to the Tuck Rule that was enforced in the midst of this game, which kept New England's hopes of moving on to the AFC Championship alive with a 16-13 win over the Raiders.
Then, you get to Super Bowl XXXVI where Brady and company were taking on "The Greatest Show on Turf" in the St. Louis Rams. New England was looked at as tremendous underdogs and ultimately pulled off one of the bigger upsets in Super Bowl history. Brady did so with a surgical final drive. As legendary head coach and broadcaster John Madden urged on-air for the Patriots to simply play for overtime, Brady took the ball with the game tied at 17, just under 90 seconds to play and no timeouts and had the Pats offense fly down the field to set up the championship-winning field goal. Brady sliced his way down the field, stayed composed and eventually clocked the ball at the Rams 30 yard line with just seven seconds to play. The rest is history.
No. 1 - Super Bowl LI
While it wasn't my top Brady moment, I won't fault anyone for putting the epic 28-3 comeback as the best they've ever seen from him. After a wretched first half by New England, Brady and the Pats pulled off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, rallying from 25 points down to eventually win in overtime. I mean, almost everybody counted Brady and the Patriots out in this game and somehow they were able to hit everything right and capitalized on every mistake made by the Atlanta Falcons.
As we discussed on the podcast, there were plenty of narratives to this victory. Not only did Brady pull a rabbit out of his hat for this title, but he also surpassed Joe Montana for the most Super Bowls won by a quarterback, which further cemented his status as the greatest of all-time. He also was able to win this title during the year he served his suspension for the Deflategate saga and as his mother, Galynn, was battling an illness. The resiliency not only in that game, but over the course of the season was really a sight to behold and was on full display here.
"I think one of the things about (Super Bowl LI) more so than (Super Bowl XLIX), because it was the comeback, because the defense had been gashed by the Falcons and that offense, and because it was Brady breaking the record for passing yards and it was Brady leading the greatest comeback of all-time, it took Brady and Belichick and pulled them apart," Brinson said. "It made Brady more equal to Belichick than I think a lot of people had wanted to give him credence for in the past."