By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
FOXBORO (CBS) — It speaks to Tom Brady’s greatness that he can rewrite history while making it look quite ordinary.
Saturday night’s 35-14 win over the visiting Tennessee Titans was just another chapter in The Chronicles Of Tom, a night that won’t even stand among the 20 most memorable postseason games of Brady’s career. Nevertheless, it was another step forward for the 40-year-old QB in his apparent quest to own every single postseason record kept by the National Football League.
It was in the fourth quarter, in a 28-7 game, when Brady lofted a pass to Rob Gronkowski. The big tight end went up in the end zone and came down with the ball, giving Brady his third touchdown pass of the night.
In doing so, Brady passed his boyhood idol, Joe Montana, for most postseason three-touchdown games. It was the 10th such showing of Brady’s career.
“I swear, every game Tom is breaking a new record,” Gronkowski said after the win. “So it’s nothing new, but it’s always great to be a part of it. I mean, we don’t really look at that type of stuff, we’re just trying to get the win, play hard. But I mean, it’s pretty cool to see that. He deserves it, he’s a great player, a great teammate, and it’s always cool to see that.”
Earlier in the game, Brady extended his own record with his 21st multi-touchdown playoff game. Brett Favre ranks second all time with 15, while Montana had 14.
Brady extended another record on Saturday simply by showing up, starting his 35th postseason game. That’s a record he already owned, just as he owns the postseason record for passing yards, touchdowns, and of course, victories. Among all players — not just quarterbacks — Brady passed Jerry Rice for most divisional playoff games played, with 14. Brady and the Patriots are 12-2 in those games.
Brady now advances to his 12th conference championship, which is the most of all time — two more than any other player.
He also became the oldest quarterback to ever win a playoff game, which represents a victory in a battle against Father Time that he’s battling on his own.
Most Postseason Touchdown Passes, NFL History
1. Tom Brady, 66
2. Joe Montana, 45
3. Brett Favre, 44
Most Postseason Passing Yards, NFL History
1. Tom Brady, 9,431
2. Peyton Manning, 7,339
3. Brett Favre, 5,855
Most Postseason Playoff Wins By QB, NFL History
1. Tom Brady, 26
2. Joe Montana, 16
T-3. Terry Bradshaw, 14
T-3. John Elway, 14
T-3. Peyton Manning, 14
Most 300-Yard Passing Playoff Games, NFL History
1. Tom Brady, 13
2. Peyton Manning, 9
3. Drew Brees, 7
For the game, Brady went 35-for-53 for 337 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. It was his 13th postseason game with 300 or more yards … a record he already owned as well.
“It’s pretty incredible to be a part of [the current run of success],” Brady said. “I think the thing is that we don’t really take it for granted around here. I know how hard it is to get to this game. We’re very blessed to do it. It takes a lot of things, a lot of good fortune, a lot of hard work, but obviously a lot of great blessings.”
Brady being Brady, he wasn’t much for celebrating too much after the postseason victory.
“The reality of the NFL is what we did this week will have nothing to do with what happens next week,” he said. “We’re going to have to go repeat it, so you’ve got to get right back to work, right back to the process of trying to figure out how to break down our opponent. Everyone’s got to feel good physically and mentally and go out there and try to cut it loose one more time in a huge game.”
Ultimately for Brady, it’s all about winning Super Bowls (he’s also got the most Super Bowl wins and appearances by a quarterback, too, as you likely knew). But as Brady and the Patriots advance as just one of four teams in the NFL to reach championship weekend, it’s once again on display how rare the current run is for this quarterback and this team.
And Brady’s not alone. Belichick now owns the record for most playoff games overall for a head coach (37), and it was Belichick’s 27th playoff victory. That’s most of all time — seven more than Tom Landry and eight more than Don Shula. Belichick also advances to his 12th conference championship, which is two more than Landry and five more than Shula and Chuck Noll.
Together, Belichick and Brady have combined for 26 postseason wins. No other quarterback-coach tandem in NFL history won more than 14.
With the Patriots extending their own record by reaching their seventh straight conference championship game, Belichick noted that despite the consistent year-to-year results, each year’s team is different.
“It is hard to win. I think you’ve just got to give these guys a lot of credit,” Belichick said. “This group is this group. … I’m proud of the way they’ve gone about it.”
Even Gronkowski was getting in on the record-setting, too. With 81 receiving yards, Gronkowski increased his career postseason receiving yards total to 835, which ranks second all time among tight ends. That’s a record Gronkwoski should be able to break next week, as he’ll need just 13 yards to surpass Dallas Clark for the record.
Considering Gronkowski is just 28 years old and has essentially missed three potseasons in his eight-year career, the tight end’s accomplishments thus far might be the most impressive of all.
“That’s great to hear and everything but that’s not really the main goal,” Gronkowski said. “Maybe down the road you can look back and look at that stuff, but as of right now, what our main goal is is just keep on grinding, get the win, and that’s what we did tonight.”
Again, the Patriots tend to not care too much about individual records, and Gronkowski was quick to revert back to the winning-is-all-that-matters mode. It’s an approach that’s proven to be quite successful over the past 17 years. But in a game that will eventually blend in to the two-decade collage of dominance for these Patriots, Saturday night offered at least a moment to reflect on the history that continues to be made on a near-weekly basis in Foxboro.