The Philadelphia Eagles will travel to face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Wild Card round on Sunday afternoon. The matchup against the greatest player in the history of the sport undoubtedly brings up memories of Super Bowl LII when an underdog Eagles team pulled off a memorable upset against the perfect villain.
Brady is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions, playoff wins, Super Bowl wins, Super Bowl appearances, and Super Bowl MVP awards. He is 6-2 in eight career starts against the Eagles, including two Super Bowl matchups as a member of the New England Patriots.
Patriots 31, Eagles 10 (September 14, 2003)
The two most recent Super Bowl winners traveled to Philadelphia in the first two weeks of the inaugural season of Lincoln Financial Field in 2003. The Buccaneers handled the Eagles 17-0 in a forgettable NFC Championship Game rematch on Monday Night Football in Week 1, and the Patriots dropped them to 0-2 with a 31-10 drubbing in Week 2.
Brady hit ten different receivers on his way to a 30/44 performance with 255 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first career game against the Eagles. Donovan McNabb struggled for Philadelphia, completing just 18 of his 46 attempts for 186 yards and 2 interceptions.
Super Bowl XXXIX- Patriots 24, Eagles 21 (February 6, 2005)
McNabb stepped off the plane to not-so-sunny Jacksonville, FL in February 2005 with a camcorder in his hand to document a life-long dream of his first Super Bowl trip. Brady stepped off his plane with a briefcase in his hand.
Some media members took this inconsequential detail as a sign that Brady took an all-business approach against an opponent who was just happy to reach the big stage. Whether or not that actually mattered, the Patriots beat the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
McNabb finished 30/51 for 357 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, he was fortunate that a replay review negated his fumble on the game’s opening possession. He threw three interceptions, including one to all-time loudmouth Rodney Harrison as time expired.
Brady did not light up the scoreboard as he has in memorable Super Bowl performances since. He won his third ring with a modest stat line of 23/33, 236 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He stuck to a winning formula without an MVP performance by letting a deep corps of receivers and a strong defense do their jobs. Deion Branch took home the hardware with 11 catches for 133 yards.
The Eagles needed their best effort to take down the favored Patriots, and they made too many mistakes to expect to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Patriots 31, Eagles 28 (November 25, 2007)
The 2007 Patriots were one of only two teams in NFL history to finish the regular season undefeated.
The Eagles traveled to Foxborough in Week 12 with a 5-5 record and shrinking playoff hopes with journeyman backup A.J. Feeley filling in for McNabb. ESPN reported that oddsmakers had given the Patriots the “largest point spread for an NFL game that does not involve an expansion team” at 23.5.
Feeley surprised the Vegas sharks with a 300-yard performance. The Eagles led 28-24 at the end of the third quarter on the heels of an upset with tremendous historical implications. Brady held off the upset with a fourth-quarter scoring drive to pull out a 31-28 win and improve to 11-0 on the season.
Brady finished with an impressive stat line of 34/54, 380 yards, and 1 touchdown. However, long-time Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson set an initial blueprint for containing the red-hot quarterback. His former assistant Steve Spagnuolo, then with the New York Giants as defensive coordinator, approached Brady and All-Pro wide receiver Randy Moss similarly when the Giants upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII just over two months later.
Patriots 38, Eagles 20 (November 27, 2011)
Most Eagles fans remember the 2011 season for the ill-advised “Dream Team” nickname coined by former backup quarterback Vince Young. They might not remember Young’s three-game stretch as a starter as clearly.
Brady and the Patriots came to the Linc on Nov. 27, 2011. The GOAT finished 24/34 for 361 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Young threw for a career-best 400 yards in the penultimate start of his disappointing NFL career. Brady improved to 4-0 against the Eagles, as New England rolled 38-20.
Second-year tight end Rob Gronkowski broke out for 90 receptions, 1327 yards, and 17 touchdowns in 2011. He caught four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in his first career game against the Eagles. The Patriots went on to lose Super Bowl XLVI against the Giants for the second time in five seasons.
Eagles 35, Patriots 28 (December 6, 2015)
Former head coach Chip Kelly and the Eagles put out one of the most embarrassing efforts in franchise history on Thanksgiving day in 2015 with a 45-14 loss to the Detroit Lions. They traveled to New England the following week with a 4-7 record and an imminent coaching change.
Brady and Danny Amendola executed easy pitch-and-catch plays to give the 10-1 Patriots a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, and the Eagles looked dead in the water for another blowout loss.
During a season to forget, the Eagles pulled off a comeback to remember. Najee Goode scored on a blocked punt return. Malcolm Jenkins picked off Brady and scored on a 99-yard return. Darren Sproles scored on an 83-yard punt return. The Eagles reeled off five straight touchdowns to stun the New England crowd with a 35-14 advantage. They held off the Patriots for a 35-28 win and spoiled Brady’s perfect career record against them.
Brady threw for 312 yards and 3 scores while Sam Bradford finished with just 120 yards through the air. However, the Eagles picked off TB12 twice in one of their most improbable victories of the 21st century.
Super Bowl LII- Eagles 41, Patriots 33 (February 4, 2018)
The Eagles laughingly stole the idea of the “team of destiny” away from the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game and traveled to Minnesota to face the mighty Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
Brady had his way with the Eagles defense in an outstanding statistical performance. He went 28/48 with 3 touchdowns and threw for a Super Bowl record 505 yards. Gronkowski, who walked to the locker room at halftime with just one catch for nine yards, came out for the third quarter like a man on a mission. He finished with nine catches for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns in a dominant effort.
The Philadelphia defense survived because of key game-changing plays. Brady dropped a pass on a trick play on a third down in Eagles territory during the first half. Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod also executed great third-down plays in the red zone to force two field-goal attempts, one that the Patriots missed. Brandon Graham strip-sacked Brady for the most important play in franchise history in the fourth quarter.
Nick Foles shocked the world and outdueled Brady with an MVP performance, including a touchdown catch eerily similar to the play his adversary failed to execute earlier in the game.
Patriots 17, Eagles 10 (November 17, 2019)
The Patriots faced Philadelphia for the first time since Super Bowl LII in Week 11 of the 2019 season. Their top-ranked defense helped them improve to 9-1 with a 17-10 victory over an injury-depleted Eagles team.
The Eagles held a 10-0 lead in the second quarter. Their offense hit a wall, as Carson Wentz struggled to carry a thin cast of receivers. Nelson Agholor made a poor adjustment to an imperfectly thrown pass in the endzone on a fourth down try with 58 seconds remaining.
Brady completed 26 of his 47 passes for 216 yards. New England’s only passing touchdown of the day came from Julian Edelman on a trick play.
The pedestrian game by Brady was one of the first signs of the mortality he showed down the stretch in 2019. New England closed the season with a 3-3 record in their final six games and slipped out of position for a first-round bye for the first time in 10 years. They lost to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Wild Card round in Brady’s final game with the Patriots.
Buccaneers 28, Eagles 22 (October 14, 2021)
The Eagles faced the defending champs at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday Night Football in Week 6 of the 2021 season. Brady and the Tampa Bay offense torched a porous Eagles defense on their way to a 28-7 lead in the third quarter.
Jalen Hurts, in his 10th NFL start, led two touchdown drives in the second half to make the score look respectable, but the Bucs never needed to panic late in the game. They possessed the ball for 39:56, including a drive to the Philadelphia six yard-line that killed the final 5:54 of the fourth quarter.
Brady finished 34/42 with 297 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception. While it was not his most prolific game, he still handled the scheme of defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon easily and became the third opposing quarterback in six games to complete over 80% of his passes against the Eagles.
NFC Wild Card Game Preview- Eagles vs. Buccaneers
Brady will make his ninth career start against the Eagles when the two teams meet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay on Sunday. Gronkowski will play just his third career game against Philadelphia and his first as a member of the Buccaneers, who also have a notable history against the Eagles.
Gannon’s defense has regrouped after their disastrous start to the 2021 season. Facing more manageable competition since Week 7, they’ve increased their blitz rate and decreased their reliance on soft zone coverage. The matchup against Brady and the high-powered Bucs offense will be the true measure of their progress and an indicator of whether or not their improvement was a product of poor opposing quarterbacks.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire