4. 2006 AFC Divisional Round vs. Chargers
This game might not seem that significant given the Patriots lost to Peyton Manning and the Colts in the AFC Championship the following week, but we still view it as a performance that encapsulated Brady’s greatness.
Back in 2006, the then-San Diego Chargers were a juggernaut. They finished 14-2 during the regular season and their offense boasted the league MVP in LaDainian Tomlinson, to go with Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, while their defense had a pair of All-Pros in Shawne Merriman and Jamal Williams.
Despite all that firepower and holding a 21-13 lead in the fourth quarter, Brady snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. It wasn’t TB12’s best of games from a statistical perspective, but if you remember what he was working with on offense, you’ll appreciate how impressive this win was.
That year, Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell were Brady’s top two receivers and his running game was led by a 32-year-old Corey Dillon and a rookie in Laurence Maroney. Not a surprise the Patriots were big underdogs.
And yet, Brady still delivered.
He got the comeback started with a four-yard touchdown to Caldwell with 4:36 left in regulation. Credit the Patriots defense with forcing a stop on the Chargers’ ensuing drive, because Brady got the ball back and led a 72-yard drive highlighted by a 49-yard strike to Caldwell (!) to get up the game-winning field goal.
Brady tossed three interceptions in the game, but he delivered when it mattered most on the road against a Chargers team many experts picked to go to and win the Super Bowl. That’s what we call a legacy-defining win … or another day at the office for the longtime Patriots quarterback.