The Jets bested Brady in seven of his starts, plus his fateful debut
Tom Brady made a shocking pre-conference championship weekend exit thanks to his Tampa Bay Buccaneers falling in Divisional round action to the Los Angeles Rams last week. Yet, the 44-year-old quarterback often nominated for the “Greatest of All-Time” is dominating the conversation around the NFL’s semifinal Sunday as rumors of his retirement (or lack thereof) have swallowed up the world of sports and beyond.
For the time being, Brady’s 2022-23 status lingers in a holding pattern above both Tampa and the rest of the NFL, whose faithful debates his future and legacy in the meantime.
If anyone leaped in joy from the Brady news – and rued its possible retraction – it was anyone remotely associated with the Jets.
Brady’s connection to Gang Green needs little explanation. His years in building the New England Patriots’ post-turn-of-the-century dynasty afforded him two yearly matchups with New York, games often seen as automatic additions to Brady’s win column.
If his NFL career is truly over, the 31 wins Brady earned against the Jets would go down as his second-best tally against a single team, bested only by the 33 victories he earned against the Buffalo Bills.
The horror show seemed poised to end when Brady switched conferences, but the powers-that-be at the NFL staged a late matchup between the Jets and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the penultimate game of the 2021-22 regular season. Through his typical heroics, this time a touchdown pass to Cyril Grayson with 15 seconds to go, Brady earned one more win over New York to take with him on the (potential) road to retirement.
— Full Press NFL (@FullPressNFL) January 2, 2022
Jets X-Factor looks back at the Brady era in the only way it can … by looking back at the rare times the Jets topped Tom Terrific.
9/23/01: The Beginning
Brady’s burst onto the NFL scene perhaps created one of the most egregious examples of a monkey’s paw wish in football history: the Jets won the game that featured his first meaningful action but wound up inadvertently unleashing his wrath upon the league.
By now, even the most casual football fan knows that Brady’s takeover began when Drew Bledsoe was removed from the Jets and Patriots’ Week 2 contest in 2001 thanks to a hit from linebacker Mo Lewis. The game held significant meaning for each side beforehand – ex-Patriot Curtis Martin scored the only touchdown in a 10-3 win (Herm Edwards’ first as the head coach of the Jets) and the divisional duel was part of the NFL’s return from a one-week pause after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
Though Bledsoe tried to finish the game, Brady was inserted for the Patriots’ potential tying drive with just over two minutes remaining. He nearly provided a stern warning of what was to come by guiding New England into Jets’ territory, but two desperation heaves, respectively tipped by Ray Mickens and Chris Hayes, allowed the Jets to escape with the win.
Brady’s dominance, alas, was tough to escape from.
September 23, 2001
Drew Bledsoe is hit by the NY Jets Mo Lewis and is replaced after 1 more series by unproven Tom Brady
Drew would never get his job back.
Brady and the Pats would go on to win 6 Super Bowls in an unprecedented run of excellencepic.twitter.com/MA4J4e6pk0
— Boston Sports Info (@bostonsportsinf) September 23, 2021
Had the endless stream of debate shows existed in the earlier stages of the 21st century, Brady might’ve been subjected to the scoring “one-year wonder” takes after a showdown against the Jets in primetime removed control of the Patriots’ 2002 destiny from his hands.
With the winner in the front seat for AFC East supremacy, the Jets earned a 30-17 Sunday night triumph in the first New York-New England tilt at Gillette Stadium.
The Jets’ lead was threatened by Brady’s six-yard scoring pass to Christian Fauria in the middle stages of the third quarter but they capped things off with 13 unanswered points that provided the winning margin. A 15-yard score for Wayne Chrebet gave the Jets an eternal two-possession lead before Donnie Abraham sealed the de facto deal with an interception on the next possession that set the stage for a John Hall field goal.
New England still had a chance to win the division when it topped Miami in the following weekend (the last of the regular season), but the Jets, armed with the common opponent record tiebreaker, officially eliminated both the Patriots and Dolphins when they demolished the Green Bay Packers in their own finale.
OTD in 2002: Jets fans celebrate a Patriots win, meaning the division title was theirs to win. The Jets would and it would be their 2nd and, to date, most recent division title. #TakeFlight pic.twitter.com/0rQYG4v3In
— The (REAL) King of Queens (@JOrtega95) December 29, 2020
11/12/06: The Brady Crunch
Eric Mangini granted Jets fans’ most desperate wish in the fall of the 2006 season: a win over Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots.
Brady and Co. had won seven in a row over the Jets, apparently channeling another GOAT’s promise to “take that personally” after his de facto elimination in 2002, when Edwards’ successor made a publicized return to Foxboro after serving as a defensive coach for the Patriots’ first three Lombardi Trophy hoists.
True to form, Mangini guided the Jets to a 17-14 victory thanks to a strong effort against Brady’s offense. His defenders took Brady down four times (including Shaun Ellis’ sealing takedown on the last play of the game) and forced two turnovers, the latter being Erik Coleman’s interception in New England territory that set up Chad Pennington’s de facto winner to Jerricho Cotchery from 22 yards out.
True to form, however, Brady took his revenge in the playoffs, guiding New England to a 37-16 home win in the AFC Wild Card round.
— Quarterback Club (@TheNewQBClub) March 28, 2016
9/20/09: A Giant win at the Stadium
After missing a majority of the preceding season with an injury (with the Brett Favre-led Jets splitting the traditional pair against Matt Cassel), Brady returned to the rivalry in 2009, the final year of Giants Stadium’s reign of the shared home of the Jets and their eponymous counterparts.
Another first-year head coach, Rex Ryan, endeared himself to Jets fans immediately through a 16-9 slugfest that saw New England held to only 299 yards. Brady completed 23-of-47 passes after his afternoon got off to a brutal start thanks to a Darrelle Revis interception in the first quarter.
Though the Jets failed to net a sack, the defense held Brady in check to the point where a Dustin Keller touchdown pass from a rookie Mark Sanchez was enough to sustain the Jets through to the end.
The last time the #Jets faced the Patriots in their home opener was Week 2, 2009.
•Rookie Mark Sanchez
•Dominant Revis coming into his own
One of the loudest Jet games of the past 20 years. Can’t wait for Week 2 2021 pic.twitter.com/nKrwTx5Lax
— NYJ MIKE (@NyjMike) May 26, 2021
9/19/10: New stadium, same (unusual) result
It probably speaks more of the Jets’ recent endeavors than it does about the legacy of MetLife Stadium (known as New Meadowlands Stadium in its earliest days). But Brady’s first visit to the new establishment on Rt. 3 likely goes down as one of the new establishment’s greatest moments.
New England’s Week 2 visit saw Brady harassed and rattled by Ryan’s reloaded defense that took things to a new level entirely. They forced three New England turnovers from Brady’s hand, all coming in Jets territory in the second half.
The onslaught began with Antonio Cromartie’s interception three yards from the end zone, denying Randy Moss a touchdown when New England had a 14-10 lead. After the Jets took the lead through a Nick Folk field goal and a Cotchery touchdown grab (complemented by Braylon Edwards’ two-pointer after the latter score), Brodney Pool helped preserve it with an interception at the onset of the fourth quarter.
Another Keller score from Sanchez helped seal the 28-14 victory, whose final New England possession saw Brady strip-sacked by Jason Taylor.
#Jets throwback – 2010 wk 2 vs. Patriots
Look at the blocking effort from everyone: OL wins up front, TE to the LB, WRs down field (@damienwoody 👀)
31 year old LT had plenty of juice too pic.twitter.com/M6BjZQjyzW
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) June 30, 2020
1/16/11: Oh, hi Mark, bye Tom
Ordinarily, with the Jets being the Jets, you’d expect the other shoe to drop when Brady and Co. squared off against the team in a rematch. New England certainly tried to write that chapter when the teams faced off in Foxboro in December, crushing the Jets by a 45-3 final in a Monday night get-together.
But, for Jets fans, their ensuing battle in the AFC Divisional round remains a bittersweet reminder of just how special the team was at the turn of the decade.
In what remains the green faithful’s fondest memory of the past decade-plus, Ryan’s defense had one more onslaught for Brady to deal with, subjecting him to five takedowns and a first quarter interception for David Harris. In contrast, the beleaguered Sanchez threw three touchdown passes, the sealer of the 28-14 triumph coming in the early stages of the fourth quarter on a seven-yard tally to Santonio Holmes.
Until the Tennessee Titans defeated New England in the 2019 Wild Card round – Brady’s final game as a Patriot – it was the last time that a Brady-led team bowed out before the Divisional round.
Who remembers when the @nyjets beat the #1 seed Patriots in the 2010 playoffs?
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) June 1, 2021
10/20/13: That’s all, Folk
It always takes extra effort to beat a team led by Brady. The Jets needed an extra period to do so in the arguable GOAT’s 2013 visit to MetLife Stadium.
Down 21-10 with the scoring handled by New England’s run game (not to mention Logan Ryan’s 79-yard pick-six), the Jets embarked on an unanswered 17-point run in the third quarter, headlined by Antonio Allen’s 23-yard runback of a Brady pick-six (which immediately followed a fumble forced by a Quinton Coples sack that Brady self-recovered).
Stephen Gostkowski’s fourth quarter field goals were enough to push the game into overtime, which saw the Jets earn a defensive stop thanks to three straight Brady incompletions. With a healthy dose of rushing from Chris Ivory, Tommy Bohanon, and Geno Smith, the Jets got into Nick Folk’s field goal range, where he booted a 42-yard field goal to earn a 30-27 win.
"Great job by Jets Nation. The crowd was unbelievable. It was a great team victory."
In 2013, after losing six straight times in the regular season, the Jets defeated the Patriots at MetLife Stadium ⏮ pic.twitter.com/KNL5zrWO82
— SNY (@SNYtv) October 26, 2021
12/27/15: Upper Decker
Again, another win over Brady constitutes one of the greatest, if not the greatest, moments at MetLife Stadium is a regular season win over Brady’s Patriots.
As the home finale – one that came in the first year of the Todd Bowles era and gave the Jets a rare 10-win season – it held a bit more weight, one that was removed in the harshest of fashions by the Buffalo Bills a week later.
For the Jets’ youngest coherent fans, the latest win over Brady is perhaps the most positive memory they have in their green-adorned lives.
Two Brandon Marshall touchdowns were negated by a Jamie Collins score on a fumble and a tying drive from Brady saw him find James White in the final stages of the fourth, sending the game to overtime.
But, unlike last week’s AFC playoff incident between the Chiefs and Bills, no one in New York State was complaining about the NFL’s overtime rules when the Jets refused to allow Brady to touch the ball. New England won the coin toss and elected to kick, and the Jets seized the opportunity.
Sustained mostly by a 48-yard hook-up between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Quincy Enunwa, the Jets needed only five plays to go 80 yards, the last being Eric Decker’s six-yard scoring reception that sent North Jersey into hysterics.
Jets, Patriots, 2015, the last glimmer and only such hope of a playoff team over the last eight seasons.
— Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) April 7, 2020
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags