He did it again. Tom Brady, the unquestioned greatest quarterback of all time, authored yet another storied postseason comeback. This time, he led multiple go-ahead drives in the fourth quarter/overtime, culminating in a 38-31 victory. He did it on the road in arguably the loudest stadium in football. He did it with Julian Edelman dropping an easy completion and giving Kansas City seven free points. Oh, and he did it all at the young age of 41 years old. There are no shortages of amazing Tom Brady comebacks, but does this latest one rank in the best of his career?
Where Does the Latest Tom Brady Comeback Rank In His Career?
The top three comebacks of Brady’s career are locked in and set in stone. Super Bowl LI against Atlanta takes the top spot, as nothing can match that amazing 25-point comeback. People forget what Brady did in Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle because of Malcolm Butler’s interception, but that game was one of Brady’s greatest moments. The quarterback erased a 10-point fourth quarter deficit against the Legion of Boom, needing only two drives to score 14 points on a defense that averaged 15 a game. Last but certainly not least is the 2014 AFC Divisional Round game against the Baltimore Ravens. Facing a team which historically had Brady’s number, the then-three-time Super Bowl champion erased multiple 14-point deficits to win a thrilling 35-31 instant-classic.
These are three of the greatest comebacks in the history of the sport, and what Brady did Sunday doesn’t match these heroic performances. However, this game could have a case for the fourth-best comeback.
The Case For The Kansas City Comeback
This isn’t the biggest deficit ever erased, not by a long shot. New England never trailed by more than four and Brady has multiple double-digit comebacks throughout his career. Additionally, this wasn’t Brady’s best statistical game. Brady finished his evening completing 65% of his passes for 345 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. That said, what Brady did in the fourth quarter/overtime stacks up against any performance in his career.
The Patriots entered the fourth quarter with the lead, but Kansas City soon pulled ahead after a Julian Edelman drop landed in the arms of Daniel Sorensen. This shows up as a blemish on Brady’s stat line, but the pass was put exactly where it needed to be. Regardless, Kansas City took a four-point lead, and now Brady needed to drive down and score a touchdown on the road in one of the harshest environments in the league.
And he did. Brady completed all four of his passes for 40 yards, driving New England down the field to take a 24-21 lead with 3:32 left in the game. With a Super Bowl in sight, all the defense needed to do go was stop Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense.
They couldn’t do it. Kansas City effortlessly strolled down the field, scoring the go-ahead touchdown in just one minute and 29 seconds. Trailing by four, New England once again needed their superstar quarterback to save the day, but this time he had to do it with just two minutes and three seconds on the clock.
And he did. Showing total mastery of the position, Brady conducted yet another go-ahead drive. This time, he completed four passes for 59 yards before Rex Burkhead dove in for the score. With just 39 seconds on the clock, all the Patriots defense needed to do was stop Mahomes and company from getting into field goal range.
They couldn’t do it. Mahomes proved he’s going to be the next great thing, as the first-year starter drove his team into field goal position. Spencer Ware and Demarcus Robinson both made clutch catches to set up Harrison Butker for the game-tying 39-yard field goal. Just like that, the game was going to overtime.
New England won the toss and chose to receive the kick. A touchdown would win it, and anything else would almost certainly lose it. Patrick Mahomes was unstoppable over the last quarter of play, and there wasn’t much doubt he’d drive down the field and score if given the chance.
So Tom Brady never gave him a chance. Brady completed four passes for 60 yards on the final drive, including three separate third-and-10 conversions. While he didn’t throw a touchdown in the final frame, nobody can deny that Brady is the reason New England got in the red zone to begin with.
The last time New England came into Kansas City, they were absolutely embarrassed. New England lost 41-14, Tom Brady was benched midway through the game, and it looked like the Patriots dynasty was over. This time, Brady led three go-ahead scoring drives in three opportunities to put up 21 points against a defense which only allowed 18 points per game on their home turf.
There are two other comebacks fighting for the fourth spot, at least in this writers eye, are the 21-point regular season comeback against the Denver Broncos and the 10-point fourth quarter comeback against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2017 AFC Championship Game. Both were fantastic performances that most quarterbacks couldn’t pull off in their wildest dreams.
The Denver comeback was a phenomenal game only made better by the fact that it happened against longtime rival Peyton Manning. Brady took down Manning at the height of his powers, scoring 31 unanswered points before eventually winning in overtime.
However, this game does have a few things going against it (relatively speaking). For one, this game was played in the regular season, where the stakes weren’t as high. Secondly, all of Brady’s heroic work came in regulation. New England won in overtime, but that’s only because then-Bronco Wes Welker muffed a punt to give the Patriots optimal field position. This is nitpicking, but you have to nitpick when making a list like this.
The Jaguars comeback, while “only” 10 points, came against a much better defense but in a familiar setting. Trailing 20-10 entering the fourth quarter, Brady led New England on consecutive scoring drives, with the signature play being a third-and-18 conversion to Danny Amendola. Jacksonville’s defense allowed just 17 points per game in 2017, and Brady dropped 14 on them in just two drives.
Again, this is nitpicking, but Brady had help from Jacksonville’s coaching staff in this comeback. Apparently content with Jacksonville’s two-score lead, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett got ridiculously conservative in the fourth quarter, running the ball on first and second down almost every time. New England’s defense struggled to stop Jacksonville’s offense all day, and Jacksonville could’ve pulled away had they kept doing the same thing they did in the first three quarters. Alas, they didn’t, and Blake Bortles couldn’t pull off a last-second comeback.
The Final Verdict
The comeback probably comes in fifth on the list, behind the top three and the Jacksonville comeback. Even though it was at home, there’s no overstating just how good that 2017 defense was. Brady played the second half of that game without Rob Gronkowski and the entirety of it without Julian Edelman. A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey were the best cornerback duo of 2017, yet Brady won the game by throwing to wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola.
This most recent comeback was fantastic and takes the five spot. Kansas City’s defense isn’t anything extraordinary, but doing what Brady did on the road in a hostile environment is worthy of praise. Patrick Mahomes will likely win MVP and proved that the postseason stage isn’t too big for him. Mahomes will own the league one day, but Brady showed that, even at age 41, he’s still the best in the business.
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