On Sunday Night Football, Tom Brady suffered the heaviest defeat of his 21-year career, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were humbled by the New Orleans Saints in a 38-3 loss to their NFC South rivals.
It’s not often that Tom Brady finds himself on the losing team, as with a 255-78 record, the quarterback has the most wins in NFL history. However, despite his many successes, Brady has inevitably been on the receiving end of a few heavy defeats.
This analysis will look into Brady’s most high-profile losses, and how the “GOAT” responded to each of them.
How Has Tom Brady Responded to Bad Losses Throughout His Career
2008 & 2012: Super Bowl XLII and XLVI Losses
Let’s start with the most obvious.
In a historic 2007 season, the undefeated New England Patriots recorded the first-ever 16-0 record in NFL history. That year, Brady threw for a career-high 50 touchdowns and posted a QBR of 117.2.
In the Super Bowl, however, the unthinkable happened. The Patriots were defeated by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, 17-14, with David Tyree‘s infamous ‘helmet catch’ delivering the Pats their first loss of the season. Brady missed the following 2008 season with a torn ACL, so we’ll give him a pass on this occasion.
In 2011 on the other hand, Brady and the Patriots lost yet again to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, this time by a score of 21-17.
The next season, Brady threw for over 4,800 yards and 34 touchdowns, leading the Patriots to a 12-4 record in 2012. New England made it to the AFC Championship game, where they lost 28-13 to the eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
2014: 41-14 Loss to the Kansas City Chiefs
While the Super Bowl losses were devastating, this was a rather different type of defeat.
On the 29th of September, 2014, the New England Patriots suffered their biggest loss of the Brady-Belichick era at Arrowhead Stadium. In that game, Brady threw for just 159 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. At the time, some saw this as the end of the Patriots’ dynasty, with some even questioning Brady’s future in New England.
The following week, as the Patriots moved “onto Cincinnati”, Brady threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns in a 43-17 rout of the Bengals.
Later that year, Brady and the Patriots ultimately responded by winning Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks. Not bad for a ‘washed-up quarterback’ and a team whose dynasty was apparently over.
2016: 20-18 Loss to Denver Broncos in AFC Championship Game
Since winning his fourth Super Bowl the year previously, Tom Brady was determined to repeat the following season.
However, Brady and the Patriots came up against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game, equipped with one of the greatest ever defenses, and a certain Peyton Manning.
With the Patriots narrowly losing to Denver, Brady was under constant duress by the likes of Von Miller and the ‘No Fly Zone’ defense, which would eventually lead Denver to victory in Super Bowl 50.
Yet again, Brady responded in emphatic fashion, leading New England back to the Super Bowl in the 2016 season. And famously, Brady led the Patriots back from a 28-3 deficit to win the Super Bowl in Houston. The largest comeback in Super Bowl history, this also concluded a turbulent season for the Patriots quarterback, in which he missed the opening four games due to suspension from the “Deflate-Gate” scandal.
It’s fair to say that this was another solid response to one of Brady’s toughest career losses.
2017: 42-27 Loss to Kansas City Chiefs
For a second time, the Chiefs appear on this list. This time around, the Chiefs dominated New England on the opening night of the 2017 season. Brady completed less than 50 percent of his passes, and threw for no touchdowns, while the Chiefs offense gained the upper hand on an unconvincing Patriots defense.
Once again, critics were labeling Brady ‘too old’, as now aged 40, many believed that this game would be remembered as the beginning of the end for the former Michigan quarterback.
Despite this harrowing defeat, Brady was able to lead the Patriots to a league-best 13-3 record that season. Meanwhile, Brady himself became the oldest player to ever win the MVP award, throwing for over 4,500 yards, 32 touchdowns, and just eight interceptions.
The Patriots narrowly lost Super Bowl LII to the Philadelphia Eagles, coming up short in a shootout that ended 41-33. Despite the defeat, Brady became the first quarterback to ever throw for 500 yards in a Super Bowl, as he threw for three touchdowns.
2018: Super Bowl LII Loss to Philadelphia Eagles
After losing his third Super Bowl contest, Tom Brady was once again desperate to bounce back.
While Brady’s numbers from the 2019 season seem rather pedestrian in comparison to other, more impressive years, he still threw for over 4,300 passing yards and 29 touchdowns in 2018.
But in typical fashion, Brady and the Patriots ended up winning the Super Bowl yet again, as he picked up his sixth and final ring in New England. The Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3, in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl ever.
2020: 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints
Now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Brady opted for a new challenge in 2020, deciding to cut ties with Belichick and New England, after 20 years in Foxborough.
While Brady has put together some impressive performances so far this year, throwing for 17 touchdowns and just one interception in the six games prior to Sunday, his last performance fell way short of expectations.
After the heaviest loss of his entire career, the pressure is now on Brady and the Bucs, as they prepare to face the Carolina Panthers this Sunday.
While many will be quick to criticize Tampa’s signal-caller, a quick look at his reactions to big defeats throughout his career will reveal a different story. Brady is still here.
Now aged 43, and on a new team, he is nevertheless on course for a career year. He’s on course to throw his highest amount of touchdowns since 2011, and for the first time in 13 years, the Bucs can still realistically win the NFC South.
If history has taught us one thing, it’s that Brady will come back from this defeat. The man who has been written off and doubted his entire career is no stranger to adversity. Expect to see him steady the ship against the Panthers this coming Sunday.