As he didn’t have college stats or scouting combine results that jumped right off the charts, Tom Brady entered pro football with very little notoriety, getting picked 199th overall in the sixth round by the New England Patriots in the 1999 NFL Draft. Close to three years later, he led the Patriots to the Super Bowl, having previously replaced Drew Bledsoe as the team’s starting quarterback, as recalled by USA Today‘s Touchdown Wire. The rest is history, as Brady is widely considered as the best NFL quarterback of all-time as a five-time Super Bowl winner.
With the Patriots hoping for their sixth NFL championship at the 2019 Super Bowl on Sunday — where they will be facing the Jared Goff-led Los Angeles Rams — Brady remains the only starting quarterback to lead New England to victory in the NFL’s biggest game of the year. However, Brady’s first championship in New England marked a case of “third time’s the charm,” as the Patriots had made two Super Bowl appearances in the years prior, only to fall short of a championship victory.
The New England Patriots’ first Super Bowl appearance took place on January 26, 1986, as the team made their way to the “Big Game” as a wild card team that finished the 1985 regular season with an 11-5 record, per Pro Football Reference. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears (15-1) were heavily favored going into the 1986 Super Bowl, boasting an offense that featured Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton and a highly-regarded defensive unit.
As noted by the Washington Post in 1986, the Bears ended up beating the Patriots 46-10 in 1986, tying a Super Bowl record with seven sacks and setting one by holding New England’s offense to negative 19 yards in total yardage in the first half. The game also saw Patriots coach Raymond Berry replace young quarterback Tony Eason with veteran Steve Grogan late in the first half, hoping to shake things up as the Bears continued to dominate.
Eleven years later, the Patriots were back in the Super Bowl, this time led by the aforementioned Drew Bledsoe, who was drafted first overall in 1993 and helped lead New England back to contention after an extended down period. Unfortunately, Bledsoe wasn’t able to lead the Patriots past Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in the 1997 Super Bowl.
As recalled by Wicked Local, the Patriots kept it close in the first half — and even held the lead in the second quarter, but had no answer when Favre threw two crucial touchdown passes in the second half. Desmond Howard also set a Super Bowl record by returning a kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown. Bledsoe also struggled against the Packers’ defense, throwing two touchdown passes and four interceptions and getting sacked five times, as shown on Pro Football Reference‘s Super Bowl boxscore for that year’s contest.
Although those two Super Bowl losses for the Patriots saw their opponents set a few records in the process, Tom Brady does have several Super Bowl records to his name — as the only championship-winning starting quarterback in team history. Aside from the five times in which he’s won the “Big Game,” Brady holds Super Bowl records in appearances (nine), MVP awards (four), touchdown passes (18), and passing yards (2,576), per SBNation.