The New England Patriots have won a lot of football games with Tom Brady under center. That much you already knew.
But for all that’s been made of Brady’s success, there still are statistics involving the legendary quarterback that blow us away.
Here’s the latest: The Patriots’ AFC Championship Game matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday will mark Brady’s 11th career appearance in a conference title game. Not only is that the most appearances by any player in NFL history, but it’s also more than all but four other teams.
The Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders also have appeared in 11 conference championship games, so Brady on his own has appeared in more conference championships than 27 teams have in the history of their franchises. (The Patriots as a team rank fourth on this list with 13 appearances, having reached the AFC Championship Game in the 1986 and 1996 seasons.)
That incredible number for Brady has been boosted by an unprecedented run — even by New England’s standards — over the last several seasons. The team now has appeared in an NFL-record six consecutive conference title games dating to 2010, when it was bounced in the divisional round by the New York Jets.
That amazing streak has placed considerable distance between Brady and his boyhood idol, Joe Montana, who previously held the record for most conference championship appearances with seven.
There’s also this: Brady’s 11 such appearances come in 16 seasons as a starter, one of which was the 2008 campaign in which he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1. That means Brady has, at minimum, put New England on the doorstep of the Super Bowl in all but four of his seasons as the Patriots’ starting QB. (He’s 6-4 in AFC Championship Games.)
We don’t know how long the 39-year-old will keep playing, but even if he hung them up tomorrow, he’d leave behind a legacy unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images