While the old cliche might say that defense wins championships, most football teams build their roster around a star quarterback. In the modern game, there are few signal-callers with a better resume than Tom Brady. Even if you can’t stand TB12 and everything he stands for, he’s still found an incredible amount of success on the gridiron.
When it comes to the Wild-Card round, however, Tom Brady’s past is probably a bit worse than you’d expect. Despite his history of impeccable playoff performances, he doesn’t actually have a winning record during the first weekend of the postseason.
Tom Brady’s playoff performances have helped make him the GOAT
No matter the sport, calling any one player the GOAT can be a touchy subject. In the world of pro football, however, Tom Brady certainly has a legitimate shot at the title.
While he didn’t initially seem destined for greatness—Drew Bledsoe thought he’d be nothing more than a journeyman backup—Brady eventually got his shot in 2001. With Bledsoe out injured, the second-year quarterback took charge of the Patriots offense; that season, of course, ended with a Super Bowl title.
That campaign set the tone for Brady’s time with the Patriots. No matter what happened, you could count on a few things each season: New England would make the playoffs and, once the postseason began, they’d be a tough out.
While we can debate how much credit both he and Bill Belichick deserve, that playoff success formed the cornerstone of Tom Brady’s NFL legacy. During his time with the Patriots, he appeared in 41 postseason games, won 30 of them, and went 6-3 in Super Bowls. If a player is defined by how they perform on the biggest stage, there’s no wonder that many fans consider Brady the GOAT.
Believe it or not, Tom Brady only has a .500 record in Wild-Card games
Based on his playoff dominance, it’s easy to assume that Tom Brady has piled up impressive stats in every stage of postseason play. That isn’t true, however, in the Wild-Card round.
Based on Pro-Football-Reference’s records, Brady has appeared in four Wild-Card games during his time in New England. The quarterback posted a 2-2 record in those games; the Patriots won in 2005 and 2006, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets, respectively, and fell to the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 and the Tennessee Titans in 2019.
Although Brady didn’t really stuff the box score in any of those games, the obvious caveat is the small sample size. The fact that Tom Brady has only appeared in four Wild-Card games prior to 2020 is actually a testament to his and the Patriots’ success; if you have a first-round bye every year, that’s a bit more impressive than winning a few extra playoff games.
The 2020 playoffs can add to the GOAT’s impressive resume
On Saturday, January 9, Tom Brady will lead his Tampa Bay Buccaneers onto the field for a Wild-Card game against the Washington Football Team. While playing on the first weekend of the postseason is a relatively new experience for the quarterback, the 2020 playoffs represent a major chance to bolster his already-impressive resume.
Heading into the 2020 NFL season, the narrative was that this year would prove whether Brady or Bill Belichick was more responsible for the Patriots’ success. While that scenario isn’t exactly fair to either man, it’s safe to say that the quarterback had the better season.
Making a run in the playoffs will only build upon that regular-season success. Brady has already proven that he can perform in the postseason; in 2020, he showed that he could guide another franchise into the playoffs. Should he led the Buccaneers to the NFC Championship or the Super Bowl, even without claiming the ultimate prize, he’ll have another impressive feather to his cap.
On Saturday night, Tom Brady will be stepping into relatively uncharted territory, playing a Wild-Card game on the road. Based on the quarterback’s playoff resume, though, you can bet against the Buccaneers at your own risk.