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.

Daily Noontime (Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020)

By NoontimeSports.com

Welcome to Tuesday, everyone. And welcome to Election Day 2020 – have you voted?

It doesn’t matter who you support – Joe Biden or Donald Trumpwe just want all our fans and friends to rock the vote. Your voice matters so make sure it is heard TODAY!

For information on where and when to vote today, visit Vote.org.

Alright, let’s get to some news and links. And we’ll begin in the college sports world where a few local New England NCAA D-III conferences announced yesterday that they will “suspend” or “cancel” winter sports.

  • The New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) announced they have suspended winter sports, including men’s and women’s basketball and swimming and diving.
  • The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) has “cancelled conference athletic competitions,” which means no basketball, swimming and diving, and track.

While it seems inevitable that more cancelations and postponements will be announced over the next few days and weeks, some local schools, including Clark University and Coast Guard Academy, will explore options for its winter teams. It is possible we could see some local games played, but nothing is official (as of this morning!) so stay tuned.

Let’s switch gears to football – professional football, to be exact – where we could see 16 teams compete in the National Football League’s (NFL) postseason if future games are canceled due to the pandemic.

16 teams may sound crazy, but with frequent reports about players (or members of each team) testing positively for the coronavirus, it certainly could make for an interesting yet exciting postseason.

And here is some more football news and links from the world wide web:

Finally, make sure to tune into a brand new Noontime Sports Podcast today – we welcomed Joe Malkin (Massachusetts Maritime Academy) and Shawn Medeiros (Endicott College) to discuss how sports information directors are creating content when games are not being played.

You can listen to our show on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Anchor (along with some other channels and platforms, too!).

Noontime’s NFL Power Rankings: Week Six (Oct. 14, 2020)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Five weeks of professional football are in the books, but it wasn’t easy. 

Also, what did you think about Tuesday Night Football? Did you know the last Tuesday evening game was played ten years ago between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles? Well, now you know! 

Alright, enough jibber-jabber, let’s unveil this week’s Noontime Power Rankings for the sixth week of the 2020 National Football League (NFL).

As usual, make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube – have a great day, everyone!  


Noontime’s Week Six Power Rankings (Oct. 14, 2020)

1. Seattle Seahawks (5-0, LW: No. 2): Somehow, the Seahawks pulled out a win on Sunday evening against the Minnesota Vikings. 

2. Kansas City Chiefs (4-1, LW: No. 1): The Chiefs suffered their first setback since last November, which seems or sounds crazy, right? Maybe the loss was exactly what coach Andy Reid and his team needed. 

3. Green Bay Packers (4-0, LW: No. 3): The Packers were idle this past weekend, but they have looked pretty good through four weeks. This week, Green Bay will visit Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what should be a decent matchup. 

4. Baltimore Ravens (4-1, LW: No. 4): Baltimore’s defense shined against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, but the offense seems to be inconsistent. 

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-0, LW: No. 6): The Steelers are really good at drafting receivers. 

6. Tennessee Titans (4-0, LW: No. 7): The Titans returned to the gridiron last night for the first time in a few weeks and looked really good. And we mean, really good! 

7. Buffalo Bills (4-1, LW: No. 5): Did the Bills come down to earth last night or are they still pretty good? 

8. Cleveland Browns (4-1, LW: No. 14): Something is different about this Browns team than previous years. Maybe this is finally the year the Browns officially turn the corner and establish a winning culture? 

9. New England Patriots (2-2, LW: No. 8): It’s been a chaotic past few days for the Patriots, but let’s hope things start going in the right direction, especially with today’s news about Cam Newton returning to the practice field tomorrow. 

10. Los Angeles Rams (4-1, LW: No. 11): The Rams returned to their original form from earlier this season with a runaway win over the Washington Football Team this past weekend. Their early season success should continue against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night. 

11. New Orleans Saints (3-2, LW: No. 10): The Los Angeles Chargers did not make things easy for Drew Brees and the Saints on Monday in Louisiana.   

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2, LW: No. 9): Can someone please tell Tom Brady that there are four downs in football, not five! 

13. Carolina Panthers (3-2, LW: No. 16): After starting the season with back-to-back losses, the Panthers have bounced back with three-straight wins. Is it time to consider them a contender for the NFC South? 

14. Las Vegas Raiders (3-2, LW: No. 19): Whatever the Raiders did this past weekend against the Chiefs, they must do going forward. 

15. Chicago Bears (4-1, LW: No. 15): Did you know the Bears have won four of five contests this season? Are they flying under the radar with Nick Foles

16. San Francisco 49ers (2-3, LW: No. 13): Injuries are piling up and the 49ers are looking like a one-hit-wonder (in our minds!). 

17. Dallas Cowboys (2-3, LW: No. 17): The Cowboys secured the top spot in the NFC East last week with a much-needed divisional win over the New York Giants, but did lose Dak Prescott to a season-ending injury. Ouch! 

18. Indianapolis Colts (3-2, LW: No. 12): Maybe the three-game winning streak from the earlier this season was a fluke? 

19. Arizona Cardinals (3-2, LW: No. 18): The Cardinals have beaten the following teams: San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, and the Washington Football Team. And they have suffered setbacks to these teams: Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers. So, how good is this team? 

20. Miami Dolphins (2-3, LW: NR): The Dolphins came close to beating the Seahawks two weeks ago, but did score a much-needed win over the 49ers on Sunday. Is something cooking in South Beach that we don’t know about? 

On the Rise: Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles


Noontime’s Preseason Rankings (Aug. 4, 2020) 

Noontime’s Week One Power Rankings (Sept. 8, 2020) 

Noontime’s Week Two Power Rankings (Sept. 15, 2020) 

Noontime’s Week Four Power Rankings (Sept. 29, 2020) 

Daily Noontime (Monday, Oct. 12, 2020)

By Matt Noonan

Happy Monday, everyone! 

We hope EVERYONE is doing well while having a nice ending to a LONG weekend – crazy to think it is the 12 of October, but I guess we can say we’re now another day closer to the end of 2020. 

Let’s get after it and set the tone for the week with a brand new ‘Daily Noontime’ beginning with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers topping the Miami Heat, 106-93, to clinch the 2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals last night. 

Highlights from last night’s game are below, courtesy of the NBA YouTube channel! 

With the win, the Lakers have now captured 17 NBA Championships – our hometown Boston Celtics have also won 17 titles, too. LeBron James, who finished with a game-high 28 points, was named the Finals MVP. 

The Lakers were pegged the “way too early” favorite for the upcoming 2020-21 season, according to ESPN.com – not sure when that season will officially tip-off – while the Celtics were picked seventh on the list while the Los Angeles Clippers checked in second and the Milwaukee Bucks secured the third spot.

As you probably know by now, today’s game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos has been moved to next Sunday, October 18. Yesterday – Sunday, October 11, to be exact – was the Patriots bye week, as well as the Broncos. 

Monday’s game between the Patriots and Broncos was canceled yesterday due to the Patriots having a fourth member of the team (or organization?) test positive. 

As of this morning, none of the Patriots coronavirus tests came back positive, which is good news. Yet, what does that mean for Cam Newton and Stephon Gilmore remains an unknown? It is likely the duo that supposedly dined out in Boston earlier this month would be able to play next weekend against Denver, but we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Sticking with football, my other favorite team – that would be the Dallas Cowboys scored a much-needed win yesterday over the New York Giants, but suffered a major setback in the third quarter as Dak Prescott suffered a serious ankle injury that will keep him sidelined until next season. 

Andy Dalton will lead the Cowboys for the remainder of the season – let’s keep our fingers crossed for him, while wishing Dak a smooth and healthy recovery! 

Other news and links from the world wide web: 

  • The National Football League (NFL) maybe forced to add an additional week – “Week 18” – to its schedule due to the potential of more games being canceled or postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 
  • The Tampa Bay Rays won the first game of the 2020 American League Championship Series (ALCS) against the Houston Astros last night. Are the Rays the new Major League Baseball (MLB) Playoff Villian Slayer?” 
  • Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders handed the Kansas City Chiefs their first loss since last November yesterday
  • Things are not going well for Jimmy Garoppolo or Kyle Shanahan these days. 

We’ll be back for more later, but in the meantime make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube – have a great day, everyone! 

Noontime’s Take: The NFL Has A Covid Problem

By Matt Noonan 

The headline of this blog post says it all: The National Football League (NFL) has a Covid-19 problem. And the league must do something about it sooner than later. 

Whether you agree or disagree, playing football during a pandemic comes with risks, and unfortunately, the NFL, which may have been blinded by this feeling from the get-go seems to believe they can operate at full-blast. But clearly, we – the fans of this league – are slowly realizing the NFL was never equipped nor ready to combat its biggest opponent of the 2020 season: Covid-19. 

For three weeks, the NFL seemed invisible. 48 games were played with no positive tests. But as we began to turn the page to the fourth week, things went in a different direction. 

Two teams – the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans – became the league’s epicenter for the virus while other squads have recently announced at least one – maybe two? – positive test results over the past few days. And due to an uptick in positive cases, the Patriots’ matchup on Monday with the Denver Broncos has been postponed (again!) to next Sunday, October 18. 

As of this morning, nothing has been said nor reported about Tuesday’s matchup between the Titans and Buffalo Bills, but I think if the league is going to move the Patriots-Broncos game to next weekend then they better reschedule this particular matchup, too. 

Sure, postponing or canceling games will throw a wrench into the current schedule, but if the NFL wants to continue its 101st season then they better consider some alternative plans that should begin with an emphasis on finding ways to keep its entire organization safe and healthy. 

The NFL in my opinion is more interested in playing games and keeping their partners and sponsors happy, but instead, they’re creating a chaotic environment with so much uncertainty and certainly a not of clarity. 

If I were Roger Goodell, who is the commissioner of the league, I would do the following to save the 2020 season: 

  • First, press the pause button on games this week and next week – we need to find a way to slow the spread of this virus. 
  • Second, call an emergency meeting between the owners and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) – we may also want to include/connect with our league’s stakeholders, partners, and sponsors, too, so we can alert them of our plan for returning to the field either later this month or at some point in November or December.
  • Third, it is time to adopt or re-think the “bubble” environment. And while establishing a “bubble” at this juncture of both the season and year may not be entirely feasible, perhaps the league could create regional bubbles where teams like the New England Patriots, New York JetsNew York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Philadelphia Eagles played each other twice. 

    Of course, creating a “regional bubble” would impact the current schedule, but if there is one thing I guess we’re learning from the college football world is that conference play seems to be working, and that might be the only way to salve the 2020 NFL season. 

These are just a few thoughts and ideas I have at this exact moment – of course, I am sure I could generate other thoughts, too, so please stand by! – but if there is one thing that seems to be working, especially in 2020, it is establishing a “bubble” environment. It has worked well for other sports and seems to be working for certain family members or friends of mine, so if the NFL really wants to play football then maybe it is time to create a “bubble” while putting the health and safety of every member of its organization at the top of the list.  

Like you, I want to see football played every Sunday, but as of this morning – and yes, the past few days, too – it just seems like the NFL has ignored this virus and thinks its business as usual. But unfortunately, 2020 is not business as usual, and we all know that.