How do you beat Tom Brady in the playoffs? A historical look back on the seven-time Super Bowl winner's previous postseason failings
Tom Brady has seven Super Bowl titles to his name, more than any NFL franchise, but he also has eight playoff defeats on his record; watch Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, live on Sky Sports NFL from 8pm on Sunday
By David Currie
Last Updated: 23/01/22 11:42pm
Tom Brady is unquestionably, undoubtedly the GOAT in the National Football League. Arguably, he's the greatest of all time in American sports.
Brady has seven Super Bowl titles to his name, more than any NFL franchise, let alone any single player, and the 44-year-old is enjoying a staggering 19th trip to the postseason since being taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
On his previous 18 visits, Brady has a success rate of over 50 per cent in reaching Super Bowls - doing so on 10 occasions. That does mean, however, he has been dumped out short of the big game eight times previously. The GOAT is fallible, and by diving back into those playoff defeats here, we intend to demonstrate how Brady can in fact be beaten...
Titans end the Brady-Patriots era
Tennessee Titans 20-13 New England Patriots (AFC Wild Card)
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough - January 4, 2020
We may not have known it at the time, but this was to be Brady's last act as a Patriot. With the offensive talent around him dwindling in New England - evident in this game as he threw for just 209 passing yards and the team were held scoreless in the second half - Brady opted to take his talents to Tampa Bay in free agency that offseason where, as we know, he would secure his seventh Super Bowl ring in his first year with the Buccaneers.
Brady and the Patriots were competitive in the first half, trailing only 14-13 at the break, but then proceeded to pick up just 85 total yards in the second half, punting the ball away on every series until Brady's last act in New England came to be a pick-six interception by Logan Ryan to ice the game with nine seconds left.
Derrick Henry, as expected, had a monster game for the Titans, earning 182 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries. For the Patriots, this proved to be the first time they failed to reach the AFC Championship game in nine years!
Broncos have the beating of Brady
New England Patriots 18-20 Denver Broncos (AFC Championship)
Mile High Stadium, Denver - January 24, 2016
The Broncos are responsible for three of Brady's postseason humblings - two coming in the AFC Championship game in the space of two years, and all three of them road games at altitude in Denver.
The two most recent losses would come against Brady's great rival, Peyton Manning, although Denver's victory would owe a greater debt of gratitude to their No 1-ranked defense that held New England's No 1-ranked offense to only 18 points.
Brady was picked off twice and sacked on four occasions by the Broncos' ferocious front - Von Miller, who would win Super Bowl MVP for Denver two weeks later, responsible for 2.5 of those - yet, despite that, the Patriots were still in with a chance, trailing by eight, heading into the final two minutes.
Brady duly marched his team down the field, hitting favourite target Rob Gronkowski for a four-yard touchdown with 12 seconds to go, but the resulting, game-tying two-point conversion attempt saw Brady intercepted when looking for Julian Edelman in the endzone.
New England Patriots 16-26 Denver Broncos (AFC Championship)
Mile High Stadium, Denver - January 19, 2014
If it was a more limited Manning we were seeing two years later, bowing out of the NFL aged 39 with a second Super Bowl ring, then this one in the 2014 meeting between the Broncos and the Patriots was much more a vintage Manning display in keeping with his Hall of Fame career.
Denver's 606 points (37.9 points per game) scored in the regular season was the highest-ever haul in a 16-game season, while Manning set new NFL records for passing touchdowns (55) and passing yardage (5,477).
And, true to form, the league's most explosive offense was too much for New England to handle. Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns to Brady's 277 and one score; Denver opened up a 23-3 lead as late as the fourth quarter before the Patriots put up some garbage-time points to make the scoreline slightly more respectable.
New England Patriots 13-27 Denver Broncos (AFC Divisional Round)
Mile High Stadium, Denver - January 14, 2006
This was Brady's first defeat in the playoffs, although it came with three Super Bowl titles already safely secured.
New England missed the postseason altogether in 2002 off the back of their upset win over the St Louis Rams and 'The Greatest Show on Turf', but for the 2005 season they were looking to three-peat, having beaten the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles in back-to-back Super Bowls.
They were arguably the better side in this game, outgaining the Broncos as they did 420 yards to 286, but costly errors hurt them, including two Brady interceptions, the first of which gifted Denver a touchdown off the back of the turnover to open up a 17-6 lead they would not relinquish
Patriots fall foul of Ravens rivalry
Baltimore Ravens 28-13 New England Patriots (AFC Championship)
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough - January 20, 2013
The Patriots led 13-7 in the first half of this AFC Championship clash with the Ravens, but were shut out in the second half - the first time Brady had lost a game at home after leading at half-time.
Chasing the game, Brady attempted a massive 54 pass attempts, completing 29 for 320 yards and one TD, but he also threw up two late interceptions. Trailing by 15 already midway through the fourth quarter, the game was arguably already gone, with a Steven Ridley fumble earlier in the fourth proving to be the killer blow as it helped set up the fourth of Baltimore's touchdowns on the night.
Baltimore Ravens 33-14 New England Patriots (AFC Wild Card)
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough - January 10, 2010
This was the first of only two instances in which Brady has been one-and-done in the playoffs, as the Ravens came into town and ran all over the Patriots to the tune of 234 total yards on the ground! Baltimore's second-year quarterback Joe Flacco could even get away with completing only four of 10 pass attempts for 34 yards, with one pick, such was the dominance of the run game.
Ray Rice picked up 159 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while Willis McGahee accounted for 62 yards on 20 totes. Even full-back Le'Ron McClain went over for a goal-line score as Baltimore built a 24-0 first quarter lead to stun the Foxborough home fans.
Brady, meanwhile, found the going tough, going 23 of 42 for 154 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He fumbled on the Patriots' opening possession - a Terrell Suggs strip-sack, one of three times Brady was taken down in the game - and then tossed his first two picks later in the first quarter as the game badly got away from New England.
Jets' record-breaking revenge game
New York Jets 28-21 New England Patriots (AFC Divisional Round)
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough - January 16, 2011
Perhaps the biggest upset of the lot. Mark Sanchez (yes, the Mark Sanchez latterly of 'butt fumble' fame), came into New England as only a second-year starter and led his team to a stunning road victory - a feat made all the more remarkable given that the Patriots had hammered the very same opponents 45-3, on the very same field, a month earlier in their regular-season match-up, making it the record-largest defeat ever avenged in the postseason.
Brady threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns in that initial meeting, Sanchez, meanwhile, tossed three interceptions. But, second time around, a much-improved Sanchez found the endzone on three occasions, and although Brady himself had two TD passes, he was otherwise consistently harassed and harangued by a creative, Rex Ryan-led defense that sacked him no less than five times.
Eleven years on, this is not only the Jets' last playoff victory, but the last time they reached the postseason at all! Brady, meanwhile, has since claimed four more rings.
Manning and the Colts have their day
New England Patriots 34-38 Indianapolis Colts (AFC Championship)
RCA Dome, Indianapolis - January 21, 2007
Brady had his way with Manning in the early exchanges of their great rivalry, the Patriots triumphing in each of their first six encounters - including twice in the playoffs on their way to Super Bowl titles in the 2003 and '04 seasons, the first of which saw Manning throw four interceptions and the second having the Colts held to just three points.
But, two years later Indianapolis brought Brady and co back to their building for the Conference Championship and Manning would finally get his revenge as he led the Colts back from a 28-3 second-quarter deficit to a stunning 38-34 win, helping set up a first Super Bowl success of his own.
Brady was 21 of 34 passing in the game, for 232 yards, one touchdown and one interception thrown in the final minute as he tried his best to answer Manning's prior 80-yard touchdown drive that gave the Colts a 38-34 edge and proved ultimately to be the game winner.
Watch Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, live on Sky Sports NFL from 8pm on Sunday.