By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Pro Football Writer
Nobody drove Tom Brady harder than the record-setting quarterback himself, even if his 23rd and final season after a brief retirement didn’t end with him lifting yet another Lombardi Trophy.
He leaves the NFL with more wins, yards passing and touchdowns than any other quarterback. He even set a pair of single-season passing records at the age of 45. And yes, nobody has more Super Bowl rings than Brady with seven.
Brady competed so hard that he pulled his teammates along with him.
Tampa Bay center Ryan Jensen, the nine-year pro who hurt his left knee on the second day of training camp, came off injured reserve to snap to Brady in the Buccaneers’ wild-card loss to Dallas — the quarterback’s final game.
“Thanks for pushing me everyday this season mentally and physically to get back on the field,” Jensen wrote on social media Wednesday. “I’m glad I was able to take the field with you one last time! Enjoy retirement, don’t dog me too much in the booth. Love ya man!”
Brady did more than his part to fill the video vaults at NFL Films. Here are just a few of his greatest moments:
FINAL FINAL SEASON
Brady didn’t finish his career with a winning record in his last season. He did, however, make his mark.
He set a pair of NFL single-season records, completing 490 passes on 733 attempts, and wound up ranking third in the NFL with 4,694 yards passing. And yes, he led the Bucs to a second straight NFC South title even with a losing record.
SUPER BOWL COMEBACK
Of course, the first Super Bowl decided in overtime featured Brady leading one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
Trailing Atlanta 28-3 in the third quarter, Brady threw two TDs and then drove the Patriots 91 yards by completing six passes to set up the tying score inside the final minute. Once New England won the coin toss, Brady completed his first five passes as the Patriots won 34-28 for their fifth Super Bowl on Feb. 7, 2017.
OVERTIME DRIVE FOR SUPER BOWL
Already the oldest quarterback to play in a Super Bowl, Brady outdueled the NFL’s young MVP in Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City on Jan. 20, 2019, with another Super Bowl berth on the line. Brady answered each big drive by Mahomes, especially in a thrilling fourth quarter in which the lead was swapped four times.
Once the Chiefs forced overtime, Brady took over after the Patriots won the coin toss. He converted on a trio of third-and-10s with a pair of passes to Julian Edelman and a third to Rob Gronkowsk to set up the clinching TD run by Rex Burkhead.
Even coming close to Brady’s record in Super Bowls will be very challenging after he won No. 7 in his first season in Tampa Bay. He threw two touchdowns to Gronkowski and a third to Antonio Brown as the Bucs routed Mahomes and the Chiefs 31-9.
And yes, Brady helped the Bucs become the first franchise ever to win the Super Bowl on its home field.
GIVE HIM SIX
Brady helped the Patriots put an end to Tebowmania in spectacular fashion. Brady tied a playoff record set first by Daryle Lamonica, then matched by Steve Young by throwing six TD passes in a divisional game against Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos on Jan. 14, 2012.
He threw the first within the first two minutes to Wes Welker and wound up with all six in the Patriots’ first nine drives. Brady threw three passes to Gronkowski. And two of Brady’s six TDs came in the final two minutes of the first half.
Brady finished with 363 yards passing in the Patriots’ 45-10 victory.
Brady dominated his rivalry with five-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning, winning 11 of their 17 meetings and their first playoff showdown.
With the Patriots and Colts facing off in the AFC championship game on Brady’s home turf on Jan. 18, 2004, Brady set the tone from the start. He capped an opening drive with a TD pass to David Givens and had the Patriots up 15-0 at halftime on the way to a 24-14 victory and another Super Bowl berth.
Brady gave a preview of postseason success to come on Jan. 19, 2002, in his only playoff game at old Foxboro Stadium, with a big assist from a replay review.
Trailing the Oakland Raiders 13-10 with 1:50 left, former Michigan teammate Charles Woodson knocked the ball out of Brady’s hand. The Raiders recovered the fumble and celebrated only to have the call reversed on replay by referee Walt Coleman because of the little-known Tuck Rule. The rule was later eliminated.
Brady found David Patten on the next play for a 13-yard pass, setting up Adam Vinatieri’s tying field goal. In overtime, Brady completed eight straight passes to position Vinatieri for the winning field goal that launched Brady and the Patriots on the way to their first Super Bowl title.
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