New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has won four Super Bowls, which is tied for the most in NFL history. But he’s also lost two of them and has been defeated in three of his last four AFC title game appearances. In the last decade, he’s 3-4 in the AFC championship game, with three of those losses coming against his primary rival, Peyton Manning.
If we’re going to hold Manning’s 1-2 Super Bowl record and many divisional playoff losses against him, then we must dock Brady for his many losses to Manning (and one to Joe Flacco and the Ravens) in conference title games.
Yes, Brady won his first three conference championship games, and yes, he went on to win the Super Bowl in all three of those years. But ever since winning the first 10 playoff games of his career, Brady has gone 12-9 in the postseason, winning one Super Bowl but losing two. And he hasn’t defeated Manning in the playoffs since 2004.
Brady might still be the best quarterback in history, but when we’re looking at his career we can’t merely view those magical early seasons. The reality is Brady’s flaws have been revealed in big games whenever opposing defenses have been able to dial up consistent pressure by using only three- and four-man rushes. It worked for the Giants in two Super Bowls, and it has worked twice for the Broncos in the last three years.
Combine that with three straight playoff losses to Manning and inferior numbers to No. 18, and it might be worth debating which one of those quarterbacks is actually the best of this era. And if Manning’s Broncos beat the Panthers in two weeks, that conversation will become even more interesting.