The Patriots won so many games and lost so few in quarterback Tom Brady’s 18 seasons as a starter in New England that some of the defeats — especially the true routs — are more memorable than the victories.
It makes sense to a certain degree as ridiculous and pessimistic as it sounds. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback had a starting record of 249-75, including the postseason, over his Patriots career. Those wins, especially the regular-season ones, start to run together. The defeats are much less common.
The Patriots’ 41-14 Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs early in the 2014 season is one of those games that stick out from the rest not only because of what transpired on the field but also the ensuing (over) reaction.
It was a warm Monday night in late September. Arrowhead Stadium was rocking, the parking lot smelled like barbecue and the Patriots were absolutely atrocious.
Brady, still (it turns out) a fresh quarterback at 37 years old, went 14-of-23 for 159 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in the loss that also saw the NFL debut of then-rookie second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo, who completed 6-of-7 passes for 70 yards with one of the Patriots’ two touchdowns on the night.
The Patriots had started the season 2-2 with a loss to the Miami Dolphins and wins over the Minnesota Vikings and then-Oakland Raiders, and Brady’s stat line was relatively ugly with a 79.1 passer rating through one quarter of the campaign. He was coming off of a down year (by his standards) in 2013 while throwing to the likes of Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. Quarterbacks at the time didn’t regularly play into their late-30s and early-40s. It was fair to wonder if the end was nigh for Brady.
Spoiler alert: It was not and still might not be.
Head coach Bill Belichick was memorably asked after New England’s 2014 Week 4 loss to the Chiefs if the Patriots would evaluate “the quarterback situation,” meaning turning to Garoppolo.
Belichick showed prescience by laughing off the question. Brady had a 102.4 passer rating throughout the rest of the season, which included New England’s Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seattle Seahawks. Since that Week 4 game, Brady has a 97.9 passer rating in the ensuing six seasons. The Patriots’ dynasty wasn’t over, the second leg was just beginning. Brady wasn’t even close to reaching any sort of cliff. With 29,200 yards, 207 touchdowns, just 62 interceptions, a 64.4 completion percentage, four AFC Championships and three Super Bowl titles, Brady has put together an entire Hall of Fame career since that loss to the Chiefs.
It’s a bit ironic that Brady, now 43 years old and after having already proven that his success isn’t tied to Belichick, is now playing Kansas City in Super Bowl LV.
Needless to say, Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers wouldn’t even think of evaluating their quarterback situation by bringing in Garoppolo even six years later (though the Patriots might want to this offseason).
Brady, at this point, has nothing left to prove to the NFL, Belichick, the Buccaneers or the Chiefs. He’s the greatest quarterback of all time, and he’s shown that multiple times over. But just the fact that Brady is still playing at a high level six years after that memorable loss to the Chiefs, when he was nearly written off, and that he’s playing in his 10th Super Bowl against Kansas City is another dig at any doubters he had four weeks into the 2014 season.