The Four Greatest 'Tom Brady' Moments of Tom Brady's Patriots Career

Well, it finally happened.

After 20 some years, Tom Brady is leaving the New England Patriots after nine visits to the Super Bowl and six championships. All the hand-wringing aside in Boston—they should have backed up the Brinks truck for him!—it was time. As a fan, the eye test told me he wasn't the same player last season. The pouting after a few of the losses wasn't a great look either. And my head was bobbing up and down when Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy said Brady should have retired as the confetti was falling after dispatching the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl a year ago February.

But he didn't. Good luck. Thanks for the memories. My favorite Brady moments? There are way, way too many, as irrational Patriots haters might tell you. But what the hell, I'll give it a shot.

The Madden Drive, the 2001/2002 Super Bowl: There was 1:21 to play, and the Patriots had the ball—on their own 17-yard-line­—while tied with the St. Louis Rams. There were no timeouts. Here's what legendary ex-coach and Fox broadcaster John Madden said at the time: "With this field position, you just have to run out the have to play for overtime now." Yeah, whatever. Young Brady dinked and dunked down the field—five yards here; 11 yards there—and finally spiked the ball at the Rams' 30-yard line. Kicker Adam Vinatieri—soon to join a Hall of Fame near you—nailed a 48-yard field goal. And with that, he launched the Boston sports century.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots reacts during the the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on January 4 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty

The "3-28" Bowl, 2017. Atlanta fans, turn away now. Sometime during the first half of the game versus the Atlanta Falcons, I got a call from two friends—from New York, of course—who called to trash-talk me after the Patriots fell behind in the first half. It didn't get much better, as Atlanta built the lead to 28-3 in the middle of the third quarter. The Patriots eventually engineered the greatest comeback win in Super Bowl history. Aside from the winning touchdown, my favorite Brady moment: With the Patriots trailing 28-12 in the fourth quarter, playoff-clutch linebacker Dont'a Hightower sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and forced a fumble, and the Patriots recovered on Atlanta's 25-yard line. Brady was looking up at the play on the Jumbotron, eyes manically wide open. Unfortunately for Atlanta, and my friends, he saw his opening. And, seeing his reaction, so did Pats fans everywhere.

The In-Your-Face Bowl: One of my favorites. The Patriots won a great game over the Seattle Seahawks in the 2015 Super Bowl. But maybe the second best part was during the trophy presentation. With coach Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and Brady onstage, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was greeted with ear-deafening boos from Pats fans. Why? Goodell had launched the "deflate-gate" investigation after the Patriots, and Brady, beat the living you-know-what out of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game. A moment treasured by Pats fans everywhere.

The Gronk Bowl: The last great Brady moment? It was the fourth quarter, and the Patriots and the L.A. Rams in February 2019 were locked in a defensive struggle, tied 3-3, with about seven-plus minutes left. Brady stepped back and threw a perfect pass—in a Super Bowl with few perfect passes—and hit Rob Gronkowski in stride, surrounded by a couple of Rams, to the two-yard line. (Sony Michel scored the winning touchdown moments later.) It was classic Gronk and classic Brady. As always, it seemed, Brady showed up when it mattered most. Gronk was pretty good too.

Will the haters ever learn?

Hank Gilman is Newsweek's editorial director and a lifelong Boston sports fan. (Sorry.)