FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It’s a déjà Brady.
Last year at this time, with the New England Patriots preparing for another Super Bowl appearance, the challenging task of ranking Tom Brady’s top 10 playoff games was on the agenda. The list sparked debate, with some putting added emphasis on one area (level of competition), while others focused more on the final stat line or the response to the pressure of the highest stakes.
Now, a year later and with three more games to consider, the top-10 list requires a significant update.
Brady is 27-9 in his playoff career. Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles will extend his own record for playoff games to 37.
Perhaps space will be needed to add that game, but here’s our revised "Brady 10":
10. Jan. 14, 2012: Divisional round -- Patriots 45, Broncos 10 -- It was Brady vs. Tim Tebow, Part II, as the teams had met just one month earlier in Denver. Brady threw a career-high six touchdown passes (tying the NFL record for a playoff game) and went 26-of-34 for 363 yards and a passer rating of 137.6. Tight end Rob Gronkowski (10 catches, 145 yards, three TDs) was the top target.
9. Jan. 12, 2008: Divisional round -- Patriots 31, Jaguars 20 -- The Jaguars sat in zone coverage for most of the game while rushing four defenders, and Brady responded with his most efficient playoff game, going 26-of-28 for 262 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 141.4, an all-time playoff high for him, as he made it look easy.
8. Feb. 6, 2005: Super Bowl XXXIX -- Patriots 24, Eagles 21 -- Brady finished 23-of-33 for 236 yards with two touchdowns (one to linebacker-turned-tight end Mike Vrabel) as the Patriots’ defense ultimately held off the Eagles when it counted. Brady’s favorite target was receiver Deion Branch, who had 11 receptions for 133 yards to earn MVP honors.
7. Jan. 21, 2018: AFC Championship Game -- Patriots 24, Jaguars 20 -- This wasn’t Brady’s best effort from start to finish, but he was magical in the fourth quarter in rallying the team from a 10-point deficit. Brady finished 26-of-38 for 290 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, a performance that was even more impressive considering he played with 12 stitches on his right hand as a result of a significant cut suffered five days prior at practice.
6. Feb. 3, 2002: Super Bowl XXXVI -- Patriots 20, Rams 17 -- From a bottom-line stats perspective, this game is closer to the bottom of the list (16-of-27 for 145 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT), but it gets a bump from a clutch standpoint. While analyst John Madden was telling the TV audience the Patriots should take a knee and play for overtime, Brady -- then in his second NFL season and his first as a starter -- helped lead the Patriots to the winning field goal at the final gun.
5. Feb. 1, 2015: Super Bowl XLIX -- Patriots 28, Seahawks 24 -- It took Malcolm Butler's goal-line interception to seal the victory, but Brady was remarkable in the fourth quarter to help the Patriots storm back from a 10-point deficit. He was 37-of-50 for 328 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions, and earned MVP honors. Then he gave the truck he won as MVP to Butler.
4. Jan. 10, 2015: Divisional round -- Patriots 35, Ravens 31 -- Brady was 33-of-50 for 367 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception, to lead a furious second-half comeback from 14 points down aided by an unusual tactic in which the Patriots declared eligible receivers ineligible. Brady added a 4-yard touchdown run that he capped off with an emphatic spike, and then his fire transferred to the postgame interview room when he countered criticism from Ravens coach John Harbaugh by telling him to study the rulebook.
3. Jan. 22, 2017: AFC Championship Game -- Patriots 36, Steelers 17 -- The Steelers’ zone defense was no match for Brady, who was 32-of-42 for 384 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady masterfully manipulated the D before the snap, and his accuracy was pinpoint on almost every throw. Chris Hogan (9 catches, 180 yards, 2 TDs) and Julian Edelman (8 catches, 118 yards, 1 TD) were the top targets.
2. Feb. 1, 2004: Super Bowl XXXVIII -- Patriots 32, Panthers 29 -- A game that was scoreless with inside of four minutes left in the second quarter became a shootout the rest of the way, with Brady finishing 32-of-48 for 354 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. Similar to his first Super Bowl, it required a game-winning drive in the final minute, with this one aided by a Carolina kickoff that went out of bounds and allowed the Patriots to start the drive on their 40.
1. Feb. 5, 2017: Super Bowl LI -- Patriots 34, Falcons 28 -- Trailing 28-3 in the third quarter, in part because Brady threw a pick-six, the Patriots needed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history to pull this one off. Brady was sensational in the second half and overtime, ultimately finishing 43-of-62 for 466 yards, with two touchdowns and the one interception. He was sacked five times, which reflected his toughness to take a pounding and not relent. Making the victory even more emotional was the presence of his mother, Galynn, who was attending her first game of the season because she had been battling breast cancer.