Among his other records, Tom Brady has the dubious distinction of bullying in a record four NFL season openers. Brady, fresh from his seventh Super Bowl win, is scheduled to start his fifth season opener when the league kicks off its 102nd season on Thursday, September 9th. This will be his first of such games as a member of the Buccaneers, scheduled to become the first defending champion of the pay-c era to bring back each of their 22 starters.
Here’s a look at how Brady fared in his previous four season openers.
September 9, 2004: Patriots 27, Colts 24
Fans were treated to a classic duel between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. In a back-and-forth competition, the Colts enjoyed two early leads before three consecutive goals gave the Patriots a 27-17 lead en route to the fourth quarter. But after Manning’s second touchdown pass of the night, Colts ‘deficit cut to three points, Indianolis’ defense made two big stops while giving its offense the ball back with 1:43 left.
After a 45-yard completion from Manning to Brandon, the Stokley Colts got inside the Patriots’ 20-yard line, a sack from Willie McGinest forced the Colts to attempt a 48-yard field goal. Prediction of the 2005 playoffs, Mike Vanderjagt, missed his first field goal attempt in 42 attempts. The Patriots stuck to their 16th win in a row; the row would eventually reach 21 games before the Patriots were defeated by a rookie quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger. The Patriots went on to defeat the Colts and Steelers in the AFC playoffs en route to a victory over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.
September 8, 2005: Patriots 30, Raiders 20
This one started and ended with Kerry Collins touchdown passes to Courtney Anderson. In between, Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes, Corey Dillon ran for two more, and the Patriots ran for a 10-point victory. Brady was an effective 24-of-38 pass in 306 yards. His favorite goal, reigning Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch, caught 7 of 11 goals for 99 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown that gave the Patriots the lead for good.
While a largely forgettable season opener, this was the debut for Randy Moss in a Raiders uniform. After a very successful seven-year run with the Vikings, Moss – who switched from No. 84 to No. 18 – caught 5 of 15 goals for 130 yards, which included a 73-yard touchdown in his Raiders debut. Two years later, Moss caught nine passes for 183 yards in his Patriots debut. Moss served as an integral part of the Patriots’ 2007 team that would not lose a regular season game.
September 10, 2015: Patriots 28, Steelers 21
Much of the hype before the game for this competition was focused on ESPN’s history reveal the depths of the Patriots’ “Spygate” controversy. Outside distractions did not dampen the Patriots’ fourth revelation of the banner. Nor did it prevent the Patriots from putting another “L” on the Steelers, New England’s defeated enemies in two previous title games about the conference. Two early touchdown passes from Brady to Rob Gronkowski helped the Patriots jump out to a 21-3 lead. Gronk’s one-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter stretched the Patriots’ lead to 28-14.
Brady juggled the Steelers’ defense up to 288 yards and four touchdowns on 25-of-32 passes. The Steelers countered with Ben Roethlisberger’s 351 passing yards, which included 133 yards and a touchdown to Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh, who also received 127 rushing yards from DeAngelo Williams, fell victim to two missing field goals by Josh Scobee, who was eventually cut and replaced by Chris Boswell several weeks later. The Steelers, to sad Mike Tomlin, has also had a malfunction in the headset.
“That’s always the case,” Tomlin said of having headset issues in New England. “We listened to the Patriots’ radio broadcast for most of the first half on our headsets.”
Neither team could stop the Broncos, who fielded both Pittsburgh and New England in the playoffs on their way to defeating the Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
September 7, 2017: Chiefs 42, Patriots 27
Brady’s only NFL season opener loss, the Patriots fell victim to a breakout first game by the then Chiefs, who ran back Kareem Hunt. A third round of the 2017 draft, Hunt rushed to 148 yards and touchdown and also caught five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown, a 3-yard pass from Alex Smith, cut Chiefs’ deficit to 17-14 at the break. Down 27-21 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Hunts gave the 78-yard catch and ran Kansas City for the lead for good. The Hunts’ four-yard touchdown run with five minutes left gave the Chiefs a little more breathing space, while Charcandrick West’s 21-yard touchdown run with four minutes left put the game on ice.
While Hunt was the star of the night, Brady (who could not throw a touchdown pass against the Chiefs’ defense) and the Patriots would only lose two more games during the 2017 season. They would eventually advance to their second of three consecutive Super Bowls, a 41-33 loss to the Eagles. In defeat, Brady would throw a Super Bowl single-game record 505 yards.