Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has vaulted from pick No. 199 to arguably the best quarterback in NFL history. Along the way, he has been anything but the best quarterback in Denver.
As noted this morning by ESPN, Brady has won only two of eight career games in Denver. Those two wins came against a pair of current ESPN employees: Danny Kanell and Tim Tebow.
Brady’s first career game in Denver came in 2001, the year he replaced Drew Bledsoe after Bledsoe suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest. Brady threw four interceptions in the fourth quarter in a 31-20 loss to Denver and Brian Griese (who also works for ESPN).
Two years later, Brady gained redemption with a Monday night win in Denver, secured by an 18-yard touchdown pass to David Givens with 30 seconds to play. The losing quarterback was Kanell, who made his third straight start in place of Jake Plummer and Steve Beuerlein. (The game featured Bill Belichick’s decision to take an intentional safety, which happened while the Pats were down 24-23 with 2:51 to play.)
Two years later, Brady lost twice in Denver. During the regular season, Plummer led the Broncos to a 28-20 win after building a 25-point lead. In the postseason, Plummer and the Broncos won by 14 in a game that turned on a 100-yard interception return by Denver cornerback Champ Bailey, who actually didn’t score on the play. The momentum-changer came as the Patriots trailed 10-6 and were moving in for the go-ahead score.
Brady wouldn’t return to Denver for four seasons, losing in overtime on a first-possession field goal to former Broncos coach (and current Patriots offensive coordinator) Josh McDaniels and quarterback Kyle Orton.
After a 41-23 drubbing of Tebow and company in 2011 in a game that was one of the most anticipated of the year, the Patriots returned for the 2013 AFC title game, losing to Peyton Manning, 23-13. This year, Brady and company lost to Brock Osweiler in Denver, in overtime.
So the losses have come to Griese, Plummer (twice), Orton, Manning, and Osweiler. Which but for Manning is hardly a murderer’s row of quarterbacks. Which means that maybe Manning and company shouldn’t be three-point underdogs in this one.