When did Tom Brady win his first Super Bowl?
Throughout his 22-year career in the NFL, quarterback Tom Brady has enjoyed a level of success no player will likely match.
The seven-time Super Bowl winner, who collected six titles with the New England Patriots and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has set a multitude of records across the regular season and postseason, and continues to play above his competition, even at the age of 44.
Through Week 17 of the 2021 regular season, the five-time Super Bowl MVP and three-time league MVP is first in touchdown passes and passing yards, both categories he also leads in the all-time career ranks.
His Buccaneers, whom he led to a Super Bowl in his first season with the team in 2020, have already locked up the NFC South division, and are a popular pick to win another championship in 2021.
NFL Championship 2021/2022
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Green Bay Packers
Kansas City Chiefs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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New England Patriots
Should Brady earn his eighth career Super Bowl, he’ll own three more than the next closest player (Hall of Fame linebacker Charles Haley) and two more than any one NFL franchise.
As we look ahead to Brady's quest for an 11th Super Bowl appearance and one more Super Bowl ring, let's reflect back on where his legend first began, with Super Bowl XXXVI, on Feb. 3, 2002, against the St. Louis Rams.
The buildup to Super Bowl XXXVI
Entering the 2001 season, Brady, a sixth-round draft pick in 2000, was slated to back up longtime Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, until the veteran went down with an injury in Week 2 against AFC East rival New York.
Brady stepped in for the final series of the 10-3 defeat by the Jets and was named the starter in Week 3 against Indianapolis, whom New England beat 44-13.
He came into his own in a Week 5 overtime victory against the San Diego Chargers and went on to win 11 of the 14 games he started, including six straight to end the regular season.
On the way to his first of a record 15 Pro Bowl nominations, Brady finished the season with 2,843 passing yards and 18 touchdown passes, and helped New England secure a first-round bye in the playoffs.
He knocked out the 10-6 Oakland Raiders in the controversial "Tuck Rule Game" in the Divisional Round, then played most of the first half of the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A knee injury relegated him to the sideline, and put Bledsoe back in charge of the offense, but in Super Bowl XXXVI, a 24-year-old Brady was back in the lineup to challenge one of the most lethal offenses in NFL history.
Brady's performance in Super Bowl XXXVI
Listed as a 14-point underdog in the big game hosted inside the Superdome, New England faced league MVP Kurt Warner and "The Greatest Show on Turf," which owned a 14-2 regular-season record and were back in the Super Bowl for the second time in three seasons.
As expected, St. Louis scored first, on a 50-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins, but the Patriots' sixth-ranked defense stepped up to stifle the Rams' historic offense in the first half.
In the second quarter, Hall of Fame cornerback Ty Law returned a Warner interception 47 yards to the end zone to put the Patriots up 7-3.
Then, with less than a minute before halftime, Brady recorded his only touchdown of the game on an eight-yard pass to David Patten.
A 37-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri handed New England a 17-3 lead entering the fourth quarter, until Warner rushed for one touchdown and passed for another to tie up the game 17-17 with 1:30 remaining.
From the broadcast booth, the late John Madden suggested the Patriots should run the clock out and play for overtime, but second-year Patriots coach Bill Belichick believed in his young quarterback and let Brady work his magic in his second of 14 career postseason game-winning drives.
"What Tom Brady just did, gives me goosebumps."— Paul Gallant (@GallantSays) December 29, 2021
John Madden was a part of our football watching lives forever. A coach. A commentator. And a video game. RIP.
My favorite Madden memory? Listening to him slowly be blown away by Brady at the end of SB 36.
What's yours? #ForeverNE pic.twitter.com/WCqggxQo12
With no timeouts left, Brady completed a five-yard pass to running back J.R. Redmond on the first play of the drive, then hit him on an eight-yard throw on the following play.
Redmond was again the recipient of Brady's next completion, an 11-yarder, before the signal caller found Troy Brown for 23 yards to push the offense into Rams territory.
One final pass to Jermaine Wiggins placed New England on the Rams' 30-yard line, where Vinatieri sealed the Patriots' first Super Bowl championship on a game-winning kick.
The ultimate possession of the game left Madden with "goosebumps," while Brady — who went 16-of-27 passing for 145 yards and a touchdown — accepted his first Super Bowl MVP award and kick-started a run of two decades worth of success in New England.