My top 10 Brady games of all time. Now, the criteria: (1) He needs to have played well. That is, even if the Pats won but he played poorly, it doesn't count. (2) The Pats need to have won. It's still a team game. So yeah, this rules out the second Eagles Super Bowl, because even though he was amazing that day, they didn't win, so that game - as great as he was - won't make the top 10 list. Same with the AFCCG against Denver when they lost 20-18, in which Brady played one of the gutsiest games you've ever seen. And (3) The bigger the stakes, the more likely it is that it's on this list. That's not to say that a regular season game can't be on the list, but it will have to be an absolutely unbelievable performance or have some significance attached to it. It doesn't mean that the 6 SB wins will by definition be the top 6 games on the list though.
Ok, with that criteria set, here we go (of course there's a million great games to choose from):
1. SB 49 vs Seattle - 37-50 (74.0%), 328 yds, 4 td, 2 int, 101.1 rating
Brady threw two interceptions in the game, which was bad. One came on a first quarter drive as they were in the red zone. Terrible. He threw another pick that led directly to points for Seattle. But man. Brady's fourth quarter: 13-15, 124 yds, 2 td, 0 int (140.7 rating), leading what was at that time the biggest fourth quarter comeback ever in the Super Bowl. Against one of the best defenses in NFL history. That win also got him ring #4, which was enormous for his career and for the organization, which endured 10 seasons of not winning it all, having to deal with "haven't won since Spygate", having to deal with the specter of Deflategate, all while burying a burgeoning dynasty in Seattle. All that considered, I think it was Brady's greatest game ever.
2. 2017 SB 51 vs Atlanta - 43-62 (69.4%), 466 yds, 2 td, 1 int, 95.2 rating
The greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time, winning after being down 28-3. Of course, HE was a big reason why they were down 28-3, so it wasn't all sunshine and roses for Brady in this game. Interestingly, a running theme for Brady in these great postseason wins is that in all of them on this list (at least all the ones at the top of the list), he had at least one big turnover. So this doesn't represent perfection. But when the chips were down, this man came to play. Throwing some incredible passes, making huge plays (including one with his feet), leading them down the field in the 4th quarter and overtime. Setting an NFL record for most passing yards in a Super Bowl (which he would shatter the next season). One for the ages.
3. 2019 AFCCG at Kansas City - 30-46 (65.2%), 348 yds, 1 td, 2 int, 77.1 rating
Again, turnovers. He had two of them. One of them came in the end zone as the Pats were about to take total control of the game early on. Big mistakes. But hoo-boy did he perform when needed. He needed to outgun the sparkling Chiefs offense led by Patrick Mahomes. The way he led them late in the fourth quarter and then in overtime was amazing. Hostile crowd. Freezing conditions. Brady's clutch third down conversions in overtime were the stuff of legend.
4. 2005 AFCCG at Pittsburgh - 14-21 (66.7%), 207 yds, 2 td, 0 int, 130.5 rating
The Steelers had stopped the Pats' record winning streak during the season, so the Pats had to travel to Pittsburgh for the AFCCG against the 15-1 Steelers. Another hostile crowd. Brady was fighting the flu and had a seriously high temperature. No matter. He shredded them right from the beginning with a long pass to Deion Branch and even though he only threw 21 passes, led the Pats to a dominating win on the road against would-be usurpers of their crown. Great stats, huge dominating win against an arch-rival, at THEIR stadium, in the AFCCG, all while Brady was sick as a dog? Sign me up.
5. 2004 SB 38 vs Carolina - 32-48 (66.7%), 354 yds, 3 td, 1 int, 100.5 rating
This was the game that stamped them as a dynasty. Winning 2 Super Bowls in 3 seasons. The Panthers featured one of the best defensive lines in the league and - as BB talked about on the podcast the other day - was one of the best defensive lines the Patriots faced that entire 20 year run. Brady had to throw a ton and he was highly effective. One bad mistake - an interception in the end zone - but otherwise a sterling performance that included another game-winning drive in the last seconds, with some incredible throws to Troy Brown and Deion Branch. And they needed all his points as the defense crumbled, specifically under the weight of a few major injuries that allowed Carolina to put up a ton of points of their own.
6. 2017 AFCCG vs Pittsburgh - 32-42 (76.2%), 384 yds, 3 td, 0 int, 127.5 rating
Those Steelers weren't as good as the teams the Pats had to play early in the dynasty, but they were plenty good. But this was the Tom Brady show from start to finish, as he completed more than three quarters of his passes (on a large volume), for a ton of yards and touchdowns, but without any interceptions. Brady was about as perfect as you could ask for in a big game, playing near flawless football from start to finish.
7. 2018 AFCCG vs Jacksonville - 26-38 (68.4%), 290 yds, 2 td, 0 int, 108.4 rating
Brady was dealing with a severely damaged throwing hand in this one, which has been well documented. Kind of like Schilling's experimental surgery that allowed him to pitch in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, they operated on Brady's hand and it was unclear even right before game time if he would be able to play. He did play. And he played very well, all things considered. Jacksonville had a really good defense that year and gave the Pats all they could handle, but in the fourth quarter the Pats scored 14 points as Brady hit Amendola for two TDs. Huge stakes, and Brady was excellent, which was absolutely remarkable given the circumstances.
8. 2002 - SB 36 vs St. Louis - 16-27 (59.3%), 145 yds, 1 td, 0 int, 86.2 rating
Obviously not a great day statistically, but the Pats were going up against one of the best defenses in the league in St. Louis. People forget about that, as they usually focus on the "Greatest Show on Turf". Brady didn't do much, but he did throw a beautiful touchdown to David Patten which gave NE a 14-3 lead, and most importantly, he didn't turn it over when the pressure of the moment could easily have derailed him (he was just in his second season in the league, first season starting). But when they really needed him to come through, boy did he ever, leading the Pats on the game winning drive, with clutch throws in big moments. Obviously this is the championship that got it all going, but he really didn't do too much in the game. But it was enough to win it and that's why it's on the list.
9. 2001 vs San Diego - 33-54 (61.1%), 364 yds, 2 td, 0 int, 93.4 rating
This was Brady, for the first time in his career, airing it out. He threw a ton of passes, and at that time (it's continued to this day) QBs who throw 50 times generally don't win. But Brady went bonkers without making any critical errors. The team needed him to throw and he delivered, including a TD pass to Jermaine Wiggins with just 40 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. The Pats were down 26-16 with 3:40 left in the game but the Pats scored 10 points to tie it, and Brady led them for the overtime win. This was the first time you could say, ok, we can win with this guy slinging it.
10. 2009 vs Tennessee - 29-34 (85.3%), 380 yds, 6 td, 0 int, 152.8 rating
Brady had come back from his torn ACL the year before, and in this game, Brady just went absolutely bonkers. Near perfection in terrible weather conditions, he just aired it out and absolutely smoked the Titans, who weren't bad (8-8). It was just a statistically incredible performance, and Brady hit any receiver he wanted, anytime he wanted, anywhere on the field he wanted. No special meaning to this game; it was just Brady performing at absolute peak levels, with the score and statistics to back it up.
There were three games in his career with "perfect" passer ratings, but they didn't make the list. His playoff game against Jacksonville when he went 26-28 was unfathomably great. Obviously he was terrific in his SB win over the Eagles, and there were just a ton more great games in there. I'm sure many of you would change this list, perhaps considerably. It's not necessarily my "favorite" games. Just ones that, to me, best fit the criteria I listed above.