Ranking the worst playoff losses of Tom Brady’s career

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Ranking the worst playoff losses of Tom Brady’s career originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The football world is all too familiar with Tom Brady's postseason success.

There are his seven Super Bowl wins, his 35 playoff victories and his rewriting of the postseason record book.

Along the way there was the occasional loss, many of which have been long forgotten amid his overwhelming success.

“Every team is really qualified when you get to the final eight then the final four then the final two, and it doesn't feel good to lose any one of those games. And I've lost each of those stages,” Brady said on Sunday. “At the end, there's only one team that's going to be happy. It feels good to move on when you move on. Obviously when you don't, whether it was last week or this week or next week or two weeks after that, if you're the loser in that game, it all sucks to lose in the end.”

So, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wild loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday giving TB12 his 12th postseason defeat, here's a ranking of Brady's worst playoff losses:

12. 2005 AFC Wild Card: Broncos 27, Patriots 13

Brady: 20-for-36, 341 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions

Brady got his first taste of postseason defeat after beginning his career 10-0 in the playoffs and winning three Super Bowls in four years. 

With the Patriots five yards away from taking the lead in the third, Brady was intercepted in the end zone by Champ Bailey, who returned it 100 yards to set up a touchdown that all but sealed the win. With the loss, the Pats were denied the opportunity to become the first NFL team to win three straight Super Bowls.

11. 2013 AFC Championship Game: Broncos 26, Patriots 16

Brady: 24-for-38, 277 yards, one touchdown, one rushing touchdown

It was the second time that Peyton Manning topped Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game, and this one was rather lopsided. The Broncos jumped out to a 23-3 lead before Brady tacked on a pair of late touchdowns. 

It was also the second straight AFC Championship Game loss for Brady and Co.

10. 2021 NFC Divisional Round: Rams 30, Buccaneers 27

Brady: 30-for-54, 329 yards, one touchdown, one interception, one fumble lost

Brady and the Bucs nearly mounted a 24-point comeback against the Rams on Sunday. Instead, their excitement was quickly dashed as the Rams salvaged a divisional round win.

Down 27-3 in the third quarter, the Bucs scored 24 unanswered points, including a game-tying touchdown from Leonard Fournette with 42 seconds left. Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp took the air out of Raymond James Stadium with back-to-back deep passes on the ensuing drive that set L.A. up for the game-winning field goal.

While the loss ranks just 10th on the list of worst playoff defeats for Brady, it could potentially be his final playoff loss – and final NFL game. Should Brady announce his retirement this offseason, this game will gain a greater legacy.

9. 2009 AFC Wild Card: Ravens 33, Patriots 14

Brady: 23-for-42, 154 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions, one fumble lost

Just minutes into the game, Brady and the Pats were getting booed during what became the first playoff loss in the history of Gillette Stadium.

Three of Brady's four turnovers in the game came in the first quarter as the Baltimore Ravens built an early 24-0 lead. That was highlighted by an 83-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice on the game's first play from scrimmage.

Rice finished with 159 yards and two touchdowns. Brady's counterpart, Joe Flacco, attempted just 10 passes (completing four for a mere 34 yards) as the Ravens ran away with the victory. 

8. 2012 AFC Championship Game: Ravens 28, Patriots 13

Brady: 29-for-54, 320 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions

All seemed well at halftime with the Patriots up 13-7. Brady, after all, entered the game having been 67-0 at home when leading at the half. 

But the Pats were blanked in the second half, with Brady throwing two late interceptions. 

For the Patriots, it was their first home loss in the AFC Championship Game.

7. Super Bowl 52: Eagles 41, Patriots 33

Brady: 28-for-48, 505 yards, three touchdowns, one fumble lost

Brady has three Super Bowl losses. The Super Bowl is the biggest game of the NFL season. So why isn’t Brady’s most recent Super Bowl defeat in the top three of his worst playoff losses?

Well, he had a record-breaking day. One year after throwing for 466 passing yards, Brady erupted for 505 against the Philadelphia Eagles while mixing in three touchdown passes. However, he also lost a fumble late in the game and Nick Foles earned Super Bowl MVP after throwing three touchdowns and catching another.

A Super Bowl loss obviously hurts, but there can only be so much suffering when the loss comes between two Super Bowl wins. Brady and the Pats won Super Bowl LIII against the Rams the following season.

6. 2015 AFC Championship Game: Broncos 20, Patriots 18

Brady: 27-for-56, 310 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions

Brady was denied a trip to the Super Bowl by a stifling Broncos defense and Peyton Manning, a game manager at that stage of his career. Facing fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for the touchdown to pull the Pats within two with 12 seconds remaining. On the two-point conversion attempt, Brady was picked by Bradley Roby.

Brady fell to 1-3 against the Broncos in the playoffs as the Denver defense sacked Brady four times.

5. 2019 AFC Wild Card: Titans 20, Patriots 13

Brady: 20-for-37, 209 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception

The final game of Brady’s Patriots tenure was a disappointing one, to say the least.

Brady and the Patriots’ offense were stymied by the Titans’ defense throughout their 2019 AFC wild card game. The loss was punctuated by a pick-six from Brady to his former teammate, Logan Ryan. 

Brady did not return to Gillette Stadium until Week 4 of the 2021 season, when the Bucs beat the Patriots 19-17 on Sunday Night Football.

4. 2010 AFC Divisional Round: Jets 28, Patriots 21

Brady: 29-for-45, 299 yards, two touchdowns, one interception

The top-seeded Patriots hardly know what hit them in the 2010 divisional round.

New England hosted the New York Jets just over a month earlier and clobbered their AFC East rivals 45-3. In the divisional round, it was a complete 180 for both sides.

Mark Sanchez threw three touchdown passes, including a highlight-worthy grab by Santonio Holmes that gave the Jets a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Jets were a force on defense, too, sacking Brady five times and hauling an interception. While the game is known for Bart Scott’s postgame interview, it also goes down as one of the most embarrassing defeats in Brady’s career.

3. 2006 AFC Championship Game: Colts 38, Patriots 34

Brady: 21-for-34, 232 yards, one touchdown, one interception

Brady has engineered his fair share of comebacks, especially in the playoffs. In the 2006 AFC Championship Game, Peyton Manning gave him a taste of his own medicine.

New England took a 21-6 lead into halftime, but the Colts quickly tied things up in the third quarter thanks to a pair of Manning touchdowns. Brady hit Jabar Gaffney for a 6-yard score late in the third to give the Patriots the lead again, but the Colts scored 17 fourth-quarter points en route to Super Bowl XLI.

Had the Patriots won, Brady and Co. would have had a chance to win their fourth Lombardi Trophy in six seasons. Instead, it was Brady’s rival who wound up taking home the hardware that year.

2. Super Bowl XLVI: Giants 21, Patriots 17

Brady: 27-for-41, 276 yards, two touchdowns, one interception

Brady’s Super Bowl drought reached seven years with the Patriots’ 21-17 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. 

The game got off to a strange start as Brady was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone to give the Giants a 2-0 lead. For the middle portion of the game, Brady looked more like himself, tossing a pair of touchdown passes.

Still, it was a game filled with missed opportunities, highlighted by one of the most infamous throws of Brady’s career. Up 17-15 with about four minutes left in the game, Brady threw the ball behind an open and twirling Wes Welker heading up the left sideline. No matter who Brady, Gisele Bundchen or Patriots fans blame for the play, the Patriots wound up punting and giving up the game-winning Giants touchdown on the next drive.

The defeat was made that much worse because Brady and the Patriots had a golden chance at revenge against the Giants. Why, exactly, were they seeking revenge? Well …

1.Super Bowl XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14 

Brady: 29-for-48, 266 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions

We all know the story: 18-1, “The Helmet Catch” and the end of perfection.

The Patriots were on the verge of becoming just the second team in NFL history to complete an undefeated season. Brady and Moss had record-setting years in their first season as teammates, and the last thing standing in their way was a wild card team.

The Giants shocked the world by shutting down Brady, sacking him five times and holding him to an 82.5 passer rating. It took over 57 minutes for the Patriots to find the end zone, as Brady connected with Moss to give the Patriots the lead with 2:42 remaining in regulation. Eli Manning emerged as the hero, though, as he found David Tyree for a miraculous play before tossing a touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress for the game-winning score.

It was among the most improbable results in NFL history, and it is the undisputed No. 1 among Brady’s playoff defeats.

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