Revisiting Tom Brady’s Conference Championships

Tom Brady will make his NFC Championship debut this weekend with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (PHOTO COURTESY: Charles Krupa / Associated Press/LA Times)

By Matt Noonan

By now you probably have heard that Tom Brady – yes, the former New England Patriots quarterback – is headed back to the conference championship for the ninth time in the last ten seasons. Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to beat the New Orleans Saints, 30-20, last night in the NFC Divisional Round to secure a date next Sunday with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

For the most part, Brady’s trips to the conference championship have resulted in trips to the “big game” – that would be the Super Bowl, to be exact – while some have ended in disappointment. But Sunday will mark the veteran signal-caller’s first appearance in the NFC Championship after appearing in 13 AFC title games.

Being a history nerd, as well as a lifelong football fan, I thought we could get ready for this weekend’s big game by revisiting all of Tom Brady’s past appearances in the conference championship round, beginning with his initial appearance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in January 2002.


January 27, 2002: Eight days after leading the Patriots past the Oakland Raiders in what has been dubbed the “snow bowl,” Brady received some help from Drew Bledsoe, who replaced the young quarterback who sustained a sprained ankle late in the second quarter. Bledsoe completed 10 of 21 passes for 102 yards and one touchdown while the defense limited Pittsburgh to just two touchdowns during the final two sessions.

New England would advance to its first Super Bowl since the 1996 season and beat the St. Louis Rams, thanks to a game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri.

January 18, 2004: Eight days after a dramatic win over the Tennessee Titans, Tom Brady and the Patriots outlasted Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, 24-14.

While Brady tossed one touchdown in the win, it was the New England defense, specifically Ty Law, who highlighted the victory – the unit intercepted Manning four times while recording four sacks.

New England would advance to the Super Bowl and beat the Carolina Panthers.

January 23, 2005: Supposedly, Tom Brady was sick prior to his team’s championship meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he looked pretty good once the game commenced. Brady completed 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards while Corey Dillon led all rushers with 73 yards on 24 carries.

New England would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl two weeks later where they would beat the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 24-21.

January 21, 2007: After scoring back-to-back wins over the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers, the New England Patriots entered the 2006 AFC Championship game with a lot of momentum. However, it slowly disappeared early in the third quarter as Indianapolis erased a 21-6 deficit to beat the Patriots, 38-34.

The Colts limited Tom Brady and the Patriots offense to just 13 points in the second half while Peyton Manning finished the game with 349 passing yards and two touchdowns (one passing and one rushing).

January 20, 2008: Tom Brady played the role of gunslinger in this particular match-up with the San Diego Chargers by completing 22 of 33 passes for 209 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions as the Patriots won their 18th straight contest before falling to the New York Giants two weeks later in the Super Bowl.

January 22, 2012: This was perhaps the most dramatic AFC Championship game for Tom Brady and the Patriots as they somehow edged the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20, thanks to a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff.

Tom Brady rushed for one score in the win, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for a game-high 68 yards on 15 carries.

Sadly, the dramatic win was quickly forgotten two weels later when New England lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons.

January 20, 2013: Tom Brady completed 29 of 54 passes for 320 yards and one touchdown – he also threw two interceptions – but it wasn’t enough to send the Patriots past the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Baltimore erased memories of the 2011 championship meeting with an impressive 28-13 victory, thanks to three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco.

January 19, 2014: For the second-straight season, the Patriots won 13 of 18 contests, but their final outing with the Denver Broncos concluded with a 26-16 setback. Peyton Manning completed 32 of 43 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns while the Broncos defense limited Tom Brady to just two touchdowns – one through the air, one on the ground.

January 18, 2015: After a dramatic and exciting win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round, the Patriots scored a huge win over the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady tossed three touchdowns in the win while LeGarrette Blount rushed for a game-high 148 yards on 30 carries and three scores.

New England’s defense intercepted Andrew Luck twice – they also limited Dan Herron to 51 rushing yards on 10 carries.

The Patriots returned to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2011 season to beat the Seattle Seahawks, thanks to a late-game interception by Malcolm Butler.

January 24, 2016: Weeks after losing to the Denver Broncos in the regular season, the Orange and Blue scored their second victory of the 2015 season against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Brady was sacked four times and picked-off twice, but he did toss one touchdown against a talented Broncos defense.

Peyton Manning concluded the game 17 of 32 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He was also sacked three times.

January 22, 2017: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were the better team in this meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady tossed three touchdowns, including two to Chris Hogan, who concluded the contest with nine grabs on 12 targets for 180 yards.

Two weeks after an impressive win against the Steelers, the Patriots would complete an improbable comeback against the Atlanta Falcons to secure the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl championship.

January 21, 2018: After knocking off the Tennessee Titans eight days earlier, the Patriots scored their second-straight postseason win against a member of the AFC South. New England rallied to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-20, thanks to two touchdown passes from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola.

Sadly, the exciting win against the Jaguars would follow with a disappointing setback to the Philadelphia Eagles.

January 20, 2019: Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead highlighted an overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs by combining for 154 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Burkhead clinched the victory in overtime while Tom Brady concluded the contest with 348 passing yards and one touchdowns.

Kansas City did intercept Brady twice while Patrick Mahomes completed 16 of 31 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. New England would go onto capture their sixth Super Bowl with a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

Get Read For FCS New England Football This Spring

Most FCS New England football teams will compete in a few contests this spring. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By Matt Noonan

The thought of seeing spring football in New England is slowly becoming a reality, especially for a handful of NCAA Division I FCS programs.

Yesterday, the Patriot League announced plans to play a shortened season this spring, which means Holy Cross will have a chance to compete for its second-straight league title after securing the conference crown in 2019.

Maine and New Hampshire will also compete this spring – the two teams will compete against members of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) North Division. The CAA’s spring season is slated to begin on Saturday, February 20 with Davidson visiting Elon and James Madison hosting Morehead State.

Rhode Island, which is one of seven teams that makes-up the CAA’s North Division, will also be in action this spring – the Rams are currently scheduled to compete against Bryant on Saturday, February 27.

The CAA will not have a championship game like the Patriot League. Instead, the team with “the best overcall conference record” will secure the league’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Football Championship, which will begin Saturday, April 24.

The Northeastern Conference (NEC) plans to play a four-game conference schedule, which is good news for fans of Bryant, Central Connecticut, Merrimack, and Sacred Heart. Games will be played on Sundays or midweek with a conference championship expected to take place on either Friday, April 16 or Saturday, April 17.

As noted on Twitter, by Brett McMurphy of Stadium, the FCS national title game will be played Sunday, May 16 in Frisco, Texas.

The Patriot League Will Play Football This Spring

By NoontimeSports.com

There will be a Patriot League football season taking place this school year.

Patriot League (PHOTO COURTESY: BU.edu)

As announced earlier today, the Patriot League plans to play a shortened season this spring, beginning Saturday, March 13 and concluding Saturday, April 14 with a championship game between the winner of the North and South Divisions. Colgate, Fordham, and Holy Cross will compete in the North Division while Bucknell, Lafayette, and Lehigh will makeup the South Division.

All six teams will play four contests, including two non-divisional games.

Georgetown won’t compete in the Patriot League’s spring season, but does hope to welcome back student-athletes to campus later this year to begin preparations for its 2021-22 academic year schedule.

The Patriot League scheduled a make-up date for Saturday, April 17.

Football is just one of many sports that is currently slated to occur this spring, pending it is safe to compete due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Other fall sports are expected to take place this spring, including field hockey, soccer, and volleyball.

No. 2 Notre Dame Remains Perfect, Tops BC, 45-31

Ian Book and the Notre Dame football team beat Boston College to improve to 8-0 overall. (PHOTO COURTESY: WNDU)

By NoontimeSports.com

Brian Kelly was worried about a potential letdown following his team’s thrilling win last week against fourth-ranked Clemson University. But instead, the Everett, Massachusetts native watched his second-ranked Notre Dame football team pick-up its eighth win of the season as the Fighting Irish beat Boston College, 45-31, in Chestnut Hill.

With the win, Notre Dame improves to 8-0, including 7-0 against Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) foes while Boston College dips to 5-4.

Notre Dame’s Ian Book completed 20 of 27 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a game-high 85 yards on 10 carries and one score. All three of Book’s touchdown passes landed in the hands of Ben Skowronek, who caught fives passes for 63 yards. Boston College’s Jaelen Gill led all receivers with 105 receiving yards.

Despite a slow start, Notre Dame truly gained momentum, as well as the lead, in the second quarter by scoring three touchdowns to secure a 31-16 lead at the break.

The Fighting Irish’s lead would continue to grow as the second half progressed, but the Eagles were able to reduce the deficit with touchdowns by David Bailey and Hunter Long.

Notre Dame retained possession following Boston College’s final score and drained the clock with five rushing plays, along with a pair of kneel-downs following an unsportsmanlike penalty against Maximilian Roberts.

As a team, Notre Dame recorded 29 first downs while converting two fourth down attempts. They also produced 557 yards of total offense while Boston College finished the game with 357 total yards.

Tonight’s win was Brian Kelly’s 100th victory with the Fighting Irish. He joins Lou Holtz and Knute Rockne, who have also recorded 100 wins or more as the head coach of the Notre Dame football team.

Both teams are off next weekend, but will return to the gridiron on Friday, November 27. Boston College will host Louisville at 12 p.m. while Notre Dame will visit North Carolina for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

Blakenship Leads USMMA Past Coast Guard, 24-14.

The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) beat Coast Guard Academy in the 49th meeting of the Secretaries Cup. (PHOTO COURTESY: USMMA Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com

Ian Blakenship rushed for a game-high 151 yards on 29 carries and one touchdown while Ceaser Gonzalez added 103 yards on the ground and one score as the United States Merchant Marine Academy topped Coast Guard Academy, 24-14, to claim the Secretaries’ Cup for the second-straight season.

Saturday’s matchup between the Mariners and Bears capped a three-sport, three-game fall series between the two academies, which saw the Coast Guard Academy men’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams secure wins against USMMA last month.

Coast Guard struggled to contain the Merchant Marine rushing attack, which tallied 343 yards on 71 rushing attempts and three touchdowns. Blakenship, Gonzalez, and Matt Restifo each rushed for one score while Jack Ruark tallied six points on three extra points and a 25-yard field goal.

Merchant Marine led Coast Guard, 10-7, at the break and 17-7 after three quarters before Restifo sealed the win with a four-yard touchdown run with 4:48 remaining.

Coast Guard’s Jared Colletti scored twice for the Bears while finishing the contest with 112 yards of total offense, including 88 receiving yards. Eugene Bizer led the Bears defense by recording a game-high 20 total tackles, including 14 solo stops and two tackles for a loss of 10 yards.

John Barbera, who was making his first start at quarterback for the Bears, completed 18 of 34 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown.

With the win, Merchant Marine has now won 34 contests against Coast Guard Academy while the Bears have captured 15 meetings.