The Jets got their first glimpse of Tom Brady 20 years ago on Sept. 23, 2001, when Mo Lewis knocked Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe out of the game and his skinny backup out of Michigan jogged onto the field. Brady completed five of his 10 passes for 103 yards in that 10-3 loss.
If the Jets only knew what they were witnessing that day.
Brady comes to MetLife Stadium on Sunday for another meeting with the Jets — possibly the last one. He is now 44 and has seven Super Bowl rings and will be in a Buccaneers uniform instead of that of the familiar Pats. He ruled the AFC East for 19 years before leaving New England in 2020. He is 30-8 against the Jets. He has thrown 61 touchdown passes and only 16 interceptions against them. He has thrown for 9,160 yards against the Jets. Only six Jets quarterbacks have ever thrown for that many yards in their entire careers.
Aaron Rodgers proclaimed he owned the Bears earlier this year. Brady owns the Jets. The only team he has more wins against is the Bills (33).
Robert Saleh will be the sixth Jets coach to take on Brady. This is one week when Saleh will face a quarterback older than him. Saleh turns 43 next month.
“He’s phenomenal,” Saleh said Wednesday. “Just watching his tape yesterday, I’m in absolute awe of his pocket presence, his footwork, just all of it, his decision-making, he’s an absolute stud and no question the greatest that’s ever played the position. Anyone who questions it, just look at the amount of rings he has. It’s going to be fun.”
Brady is somehow still at the top of his game. He led the Buccaneers to an NFC South crown and is No. 1 in the NFL in passing yards (4,580) and passing touchdowns (37). Saleh said coaches always think about whether they had known when they were a player what they know now as a coach how much better they could have been. Brady does not have to wonder.
“If you ever wanted to see what a coach would look like if he still had the ability to play, there he is, Tom,” Saleh said. “I mean he’s playing better than he’s ever played, I mean he looks phenomenal. His decision-making, all of it, he’s so precise, he gets rid of the ball and he knows what’s happening.”
Brady beat the Jets for the first time on Dec. 2, 2001, a 17-16 win at Giants Stadium. It was the first of many. He would sweep the Jets between 2003-05. He has beaten the Jets on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. He has beaten them on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. He has wins over the Jets in September, October, November, December and January.
The times the Jets have gotten him in the last 15 years are memorable. Rex Ryan’s first home game as head coach. Geno Smith beating him in 2013. The overtime win in 2015 — the last time the Jets beat Brady. Nothing comes close to the divisional playoff win after the 2010 season, possibly the second-biggest win in Jets franchise history.
There are many more times when Brady memorably got the Jets. He announced the Spygate Revenge Tour in the first game of the 2007 season, throwing for three touchdowns in a 38-14 win. He threw four touchdowns in the 45-3 Monday night win in 2010. Brady was on the winning side the night of the buttfumble and the “ghosts” game, which was the last time the Jets faced Brady.
Zach Wilson will become the 12th different Jets quarterback to start against Brady. Wilson shares a birthday with the GOAT. Both were born on Aug. 3, just 22 years apart. Vinny Testaverde was the Jets quarterback when Brady first faced the Jets. Testaverde, 58, last played in 2007 and was briefly a teammate of Brady’s in 2006.
Brady has faced some big-name Jets quarterbacks like Chad Pennington, Mark Sanchez and Sam Darnold and others who had more forgettable stints with the team such as Brooks Bollinger, Kellen Clemens, Bryce Petty and Luke Falk.
The Jets are not scheduled to face the Buccaneers for another four years. Brady will be 48. Will he be around to face the Jets in 2025? Would you bet against it?