Back on September 30, 2001, an unknown sixth round pick out of Michigan made his first start at quarterback for the Patriots. That quarterback was Tom Brady, and he would help the Patriots win their first Super Bowl by upsetting the Rams to finish the season. Since making his debut, the Patriots have had more success than any other NFL team, winning all but two AFC East championships.
Of those two seasons where New England didn’t clinch the title, the first came in 2002 when the team finished 9-7 and lost a three-way tie on tiebreakers to the Jets. The second came in 2008 when Brady missed almost the entire season after getting injured in Week 1. Outside of those two years, Brady has been absolutely dismantling AFC East opponents, and has a record of 77-20 against the Bills, Jets and Dolphins.
Fans of those teams can’t wait until the day that Brady and/or Bill Belichick retires, and they might not want to take this trip down memory lane. That’s because we are looking at the 10 best games that Brady has had against his divisional opponents, and we start with an old foe from Brady’s first season as a starting quarterback.
15 Indy Goes South
A lot of the younger football fans don’t remember which teams were in which division before the Houston Texans came along in 2002 (and let’s be honest, there’s a lot of young Patriots fans). In 2001 when Tom Brady made his first start, the Patriots shared the AFC East with the Indianapolis Colts before realignment put them in the AFC South.
14 Following Up
After winning the Super Bowl in his first season, Tom Brady and the Patriots were looking to avoid a Super Bowl hangover. Early in the season, they certainly didn’t seem to have one of those hangovers when they took on the Jets in Week 2. The Jets held tough in the first half, not surrendering any points until halfway through the second quarter, trailing 10-0 heading into the locker room.
13 Ending on a High Note
The Patriots were going for their second Super Bowl win in three years in 2003, and they looked like they were well on their way toward the end of the regular season. Sitting at 13-2, the Patriots took on the Bills, who were just looking to end their season at 6-9. The home team would get off to a hot start, as Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter, and then two more in the second.
12 Another Finale
2003 was not the only time that the Patriots have finished out a regular season at home against a division opponent easily. In 2011, the Patriots wrapped up another solid season to improve to 14-2 as they dismantled the Dolphins 38-7. Like the Bills game from 2003, the game was already out of question at halftime as the Patriots took a 24-0 lead into the locker room.
11 Back in Action
The Patriots found themselves in a hole at 3-4 heading into their November showdown at Buffalo. It’s odd to think about, but Brady and the Pats were underdogs against the Bills back in 2002. The Patriots would not be denied, as they opened the scoring very early with a connection between Tom Brady and Christian Fauria. New England would extend their lead on another pass, this time to Antowain Smith.
10 Christmas Eve Beatdown
You don’t have to go too far back in time for the next beatdown, as Tom Brady and the Patriots were able to cruise past the Jets on Christmas Eve 2016, winning by a score of 41-3. Brady did not need that many yards to be effective, but was still able to get the job done on 214 yards through the air, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Brady was able to hook up with Martellus Bennett, James White and Matt Lengel all in the first half.
9 Flight Path
In 2010, it looked like the Jets were finally going to be able to knock the Patriots from atop the AFC East and win their first divisional title since 1998. Heading into the early December match-up, both the Patriots and Jets carried records of 9-2, but Brady and the Patriots would not be surpassed at home on Monday Night Football, as the Patriots absolutely stymied New York.
8 Farewell Old Friend
Tom Brady opened up the 2016 season serving a four game suspension for “Deflategate” which caused him to miss the first match-up between the Patriots and Bills. Brady would take the 6-1 Patriots into Buffalo the day before Halloween to go against the Bills, who were feeling alright about themselves at 4-3. However, Brady would remind the Bills who the king of the AFC East is as New England rolled to a 41-25 win.
7 Fins Down
In 2015, the Patriots were absolutely rolling through the first 10 weeks of the season after coming off of a Super Bowl win the previous season. New England got their first taste of the Dolphins during their hot start, as they held a 6-0 record when Miami made the trip north for a Thursday night game. It went just about as expected, as the Patriots pulled away early and never looked back en route to a 36-7 victory.
6 Left For Dead
The beginning of the 2014 season was an interesting one for the Patriots. After losing to the Dolphins in Week 1 by 13 points, New England would rattle off two consecutive victories. However, they would get dismantled by the Chiefs on Monday Night Football, leading to a lot of commentators to say that Brady’s days in New England were numbered and that the team was going nowhere.
5 The Butt Fumble Game
In 2012, the New York Jets were fading fast with Mark Sanchez at the helm despite coming off of two good seasons. Heading into Thanksgiving, the Jets were 4-6 and were hosting the Patriots, who were 7-3. After no scoring in the first, the Patriots went ballistic in the second quarter to take a 35-3 lead into halftime. Even though it was a forgettable blowout, it became memorable because of Mark Sanchez’s infamous “Butt Fumble.”
4 Joining the Club
With all of the accomplishments that Tom Brady has had in his career, there was one milestone heading into the 2011 season that he never got to, and that’s the 500 yard club. In the opening week of the season, the Patriots would travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins, and Brady set his career high for passing yards with 517, while adding four touchdowns and one interception as New England started 1-0 with a 38-24 win.
3 Wrecking Rex
After winning the Super Bowl the year before, the Patriots started off their 2015 season by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers on the Thursday night opener, giving them extra rest for their showdown with the Bills in Week 2. Buffalo was coming off a win of their own and looking to establish some momentum in the AFC East, but it wasn’t to be as the Patriots won on the road by a score of 40-32.
2 Pursuit of Perfection Part I
2007 is the year that a lot of people first think of when it comes to Tom Brady’s greatest accomplishments. The Patriots spent the entire regular season undefeated and didn’t suffer their first loss until the worst possible time at the Super Bowl. Still, there were a lot of good memories for Pats fans along the way, including their match-up in November against the Bills where the Patriots walked with a 56-10 win.
1 Pursuit of Perfection Part II
Despite those insane numbers against the Bills in the 2007 season, there was a game that was slightly more impressive against a division rival. This time, it came in October against the struggling Dolphins, who were 0-6 heading into their showdown with New England. Throughout the first three quarters, the Patriots made it look easy as they took a 42-7 lead into the final quarter. The Dolphins added three touchdowns to make it a 49-28 ending, but it was never in question.
Brady had one of his two career six touchdown games (the other coming against non-divisional team Tennessee) as he tossed for 354 yards and no interceptions. The bonanza of touchdown passes started with Donte Stallworth and Kyle Brady in the first, while Randy Moss added two in the second quarter. Wes Welker would get his first just before halftime and caught the sixth Brady touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter.
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