Late-game comebacks were once an exciting hallmark of Tom Brady’s career. But the Patriots quarterback’s come-from-behind magic has seemed to go missing at times in recent seasons.
While Brady has engineered game-winning comebacks 35 times in his career, only seven have come in the last four seasons.
In Brady’s first four seasons as the starter, when he led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles, he engineered 17 come-from-behind wins, including two in the divisional playoffs and three in the Super Bowl.
Yet in recent seasons, the formula that Brady once used to give the Patriots a never-say-die attitude has not been as prevalent. In fact, there are more examples of the Patriots failing to rally from fourth-quarter deficits in the last four seasons than of games in which they stormed back for victories.
A look at how Brady has performed in the Patriots’ close-call losses since 2009:
Sept. 16, 20-18 loss at home to Arizona: Brady threw a touchdown pass with 2:06 left, but the 2-point conversion attempt failed. Patriots then recovered a Cardinals’ fumble, but missed a 42-yard field goal attempt in final seconds.
Sept. 23, 31-30 loss at Baltimore: Patriots blew a 9-point fourth-quarter lead. Brady went 5 for 9 for 41 yards with one sack in final quarter as Patriots failed to secure key first down that would have clinched win.
Oct. 14, 24-23 loss at Seattle: Patriots squandered a 23-10 fourth-quarter lead. Brady, who went 5 for 13 for 81 yards with one sack and one interception in the fourth quarter, twice led three-and-out possessions in the final three minutes.
Jan. 20 (2013), 28-13 loss to Baltimore at home in AFC Championship game: Leading 13-7 at halftime, the Patriots failed to score in the second half. Brady’s two interceptions helped doom the Patriots, who committed three fourth-quarter turnovers.
Sept. 25, 34-31 loss at Buffalo: Patriots entered the fourth quarter with a 24-17 lead but were hurt by Brady interceptions on consecutive drives. The Bills scored touchdowns off both turnovers, including a 27-yard return by Drayton Florence that gave Buffalo a 31-24 lead. While Brady would rally the Patriots with a tying touchdown drive, Buffalo walked off with a win on a 28-yard field goal by Rian Lindell.
Oct. 30, 25-17 loss at Pittsburgh: Brady led a touchdown drive that left New England with a 23-17 deficit with 2:35 to play, but it failed to ignite a bigger rally. Brady opened the Patriots’ last possession at their 22-yard line with 19 seconds to play with a fumble that the Steelers turned into a game-icing safety.
Nov. 6, 24-20 loss at home to New York Giants: Brady played well in the fourth quarter and rallied his team from a 10-3 deficit at the start of the final frame. His two touchdown passes staked the Patriots to a 20-17 lead with 1:36 to play. But in a scene that would be repeated three months later, he was outplayed by Eli Manning, who threw the winning touchdown pass with 12 seconds left.
Feb. 5 (2012), 21-17 loss to New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI: Brady led the Patriots on a drive that consumed 5 minutes 38 seconds deep in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t come up with more points to bolster a 17-15 lead. And after Eli Manning engineered a 90-yard touchdown drive to take the lead, Brady couldn’t rally the Patriots again. He finished 6 of 15 for 64 yards with one sack in the fourth quarter before his Hail Mary pass as regulation ended fell incomplete.
Sept. 19, 28-14 loss at New York Jets: The Patriots were shut out in the second half after carrying a 14-10 lead into halftime. Brady led a drive to the Jets’ 16-yard line late in the fourth quarter, but was strip-sacked by Jason Taylor and lost a fumble that sealed the Jets’ win.
Jan. 16 (2011), 28-21 loss at home to New York Jets in AFC divisional playoffs: Down 10 points in the fourth quarter, Brady couldn’t convert when it counted as the Patriots notched only 3 points on two drives into Jets territory. The Jets’ ensuing touchdown rendered Brady’s final-minute touchdown drive irrelevant.
Sept. 20, 16-9 loss at New York Jets: The Patriots were held scoreless in the second half of Rex Ryan’s debut against them as Jets coach. Facing just a 7-point deficit, the Patriots offense barely seemed to threaten. Brady was 6 of 15 for 60 yards in the final quarter.
Oct. 11, 20-17 loss at Denver in OT: After the Broncos tied the game at 17-17 with 5:15 to play, Brady responded with a three-and-out. The Patriots’ defense forced a three-and-out by the Broncos, but then Brady was strip-sacked by Vonnie Holliday and lost a fumble with 1:37 to play. New England would not threaten again.
Nov. 15, 35-34 loss at Indianapolis: The Patriots were playing with a lead for most of this shootout, and Brady threw a touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to give New England a 31-14 lead. But then a stalled Patriots’ drive late in the fourth quarter paved the way for one of the most infamous fourth-down conversion tries in NFL history. When a first down would seal a win with just more than two minutes left, Brady hit Kevin Faulk on a fourth-and-2 pass from the Patriots’ 28, but Faulk was inches short of a first down. The Colts took over, and scored the winning touchdown in the final minute. With just nine seconds on the clock at the start of their final possession, Brady and the Patriots could not rally.
Dec. 6, 22-21 loss at Miami: The Patriots took a 21-19 lead into the fourth quarter, but were listless on offense. Brady threw two interceptions in the final quarter and led a pair of three-and-outs.
Tom Brady’s come-from-behind highlights
A look at Brady’s comeback wins* on a yearly basis:
|Season||Comeback wins||Brady's highlight|
|2012||1||After Jets took lead with 1:37 left, Brady put Stephen Gostkowski in position for field goals at end of regulation and in overtime.|
|2011||3||Led Patriots on 80-yard drive that culminated in winning touchdown vs. Dallas in 20-16 win in Week 6.|
|2010||2||Overcame 10-point deficit in final quarter to beat Ravens in overtime in Week 6.|
|2009||1||On opening night, led Patriots back from 11-point deficit in final 2:10 for 25-24 win over Bills.|
|2008||0||Was injured and missed 15 games.|
|2007||4||Connected with Randy Moss on 65-yard scoring pass for winning points in game that clinched 16-0 regular season.|
|2006||3||Rallied Patriots for 11 points in final five minutes of divisional playoff win at San Diego.|
|2005||4||Led Patriots to two touchdowns in less than two minutes for win vs. Bills in Tedy Bruschi's Week 8 return.|
|2004||2||Mounted two scoring drives in final quarter of Super Bowl XXXIX for third title.|
|2003||7||For second time in three years, engineered Super Bowl-winning drive in game's final minute.|
|2002||3||Rallied Patriots from 24-13 deficit for Week 17 win; team missed playoffs on tiebreaker.|
|2001||5||Led Patriots to winning field goal in final 1:21 of Super Bowl XXXVI.|
* Comeback wins are defined as leading a team back from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie.