20 Years Ago: Tom Brady Replaced An Injured Drew Bledsoe, Changing The Patriots (And The NFL) Forever

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BOSTON (CBS Boston) — In conscionable 10 abbreviated days, Tom Brady volition marque his instrumentality to New England arsenic the backmost of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Chances are he’ll person the warmest invited immoderate departed Boston jock has received successful their return, considering the perfectly absurd 20-year tally helium had with the Patriots liable for those six Super Bowl banners that present bent successful Gillette Stadium.

That run, technically, started erstwhile the Patriots drafted Brady successful the sixth circular of the 2000 NFL Draft. But nary 1 knew the unthinkable heights that Brady and the Patriots would scope successful the adjacent aboriginal astatine that time, arsenic Brady was buried connected the New England extent chart. He spent his rookie play arsenic the team’s 4th quarterback, making conscionable 1 little quality that season.

Brady did not spot his archetypal real action for the Patriots until Week 2 of the 2001 play — 20 years agone contiguous — erstwhile helium replaced a precise injured Drew Bledsoe precocious successful the 4th fourth of a 10-3 nonaccomplishment to New York. The rest, arsenic they say, is history.

Bledsoe miraculously played a bid that Sunday day aft Mo Lewis leveled him connected the sideline, a monolithic deed that gave New England’s big-money backmost a concussion, a collapsed lung and interior bleeding. Bledsoe astir died from the convulsive collision.

It evidently sidelined Bledsoe for a while, and paved the mode for Brady to instrumentality over. And instrumentality implicit helium did, starring the Patriots to an 11-3 grounds arsenic the team’s starter and an improbable Super Bowl tally with an adjacent much improbable title-clinching triumph implicit the St. Louis Rams.

But each of that, and the different 5 Lombari Trophies helium won arsenic a Patriot, were a agelong clip coming erstwhile Brady took the tract backmost connected Sept. 23, 2001.

Looking Back At Tom Brady’s Patriots Debut

The fresh-faced, somewhat pudgy (compared to today’s Tom Brady) backmost took the tract astatine Foxboro Stadium with 2:16 near and the Patriots trailing 10-3. He completed his archetypal pass, a four-yard hookup with Patrick Pass. Then helium completed different for 9 yards to Troy Brown. After an incompletion to Brown, the 2 hooked up again for different nine-yard connection, and Brown moved the chains erstwhile Brady deed him for different 3 yards connected a third-and-1 to bring the Pats into New York territory. That was the commencement of a beauteous narration betwixt Brady and Brown.

It kinda felt similar Brady was astir to pb the squad connected a game-tying drive. It could person been the archetypal of galore comebacks that the backmost would pb the squad connected implicit the adjacent 2 decades. But it was not meant to beryllium that Sunday, arsenic a holding punishment connected Joe Andruzzi wiped retired a nine-yard reception by choky extremity Jermaine Wiggins and pushed the Patriots backmost 10 yards.

Brady ran for 9 yards connected the ensuing first-and-20 and past picked up 21 yards connected a bully transportation with David Patten, putting the Patriots connected the New York 29-yard line. But determination was nary comeback magic arsenic Brady’s adjacent 4 passes fell incomplete, and the Patriots walked disconnected the tract with a 10-3 nonaccomplishment and an 0-2 record.

New England was not successful a large spot aft that defeat, but small did anyone cognize that it was the commencement of thing special. Just erstwhile things were looking worse and worse for the Patriots, Tom Brady came and saved the day.

‘He Will Go Out There And Perform At A Good Level’

The erstwhile Michigan antheral had impressed during grooming campy and the preseason, prompting Bill Belichick to elevate Brady connected the extent illustration implicit seasoned Damon Huard, slotting the 24-year-old successful arsenic Bledsoe’s backup.

After that Week 2 nonaccomplishment to the Jets, Belichick expressed assurance that Brady could pb the mode until Bledsoe returned.

“I truly don’t deliberation that I americium going to beryllium lasting present week aft week talking astir each of the problems that Tom Brady had. I person assurance successful him, I deliberation the squad has assurance successful him and I deliberation that helium volition hole himself good and helium volition spell retired determination and execute astatine a bully level,” Belichick said, via NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran. “I americium definite that similar each different young subordinate determination volition ever beryllium thing successful the crippled that you would similar to bash differently. People accidental that astir each subordinate young oregon old. It is ever going to beryllium that way. Everybody volition marque a mistake successful the game, but I deliberation wide that helium volition execute wrong the model of the discourtesy that we person designed for him and helium volition marque plays that helium is susceptible of making. That is what my expectations are and I deliberation Tom volition enactment hard to respond to that opportunity.

“Nobody ever likes to spot a teammate spell down particularly a warrior similar Drew, conscionable to spell backmost successful the crippled successful that concern and the information that helium did shows the benignant of toughness and grit that helium has and what helium is respected for, but astatine the aforesaid clip each subordinate likes to play, each subordinate wants to instrumentality advantage, of an accidental and I cognize that Tom has prepared hard and that is what a backup quarterback’s occupation is,” Belichick continued. “To beryllium acceptable erstwhile the accidental arises. It was a pugnacious concern that helium was thrust into past night, but wide I thought helium responded to it beauteous well. I conscionable privation we could person made 1 much play.”

Brady got his archetypal commencement the pursuing week against Indianapolis, arsenic the Patriots pummeled the Indianapolis Colts 44-13 successful Foxboro. It was Brady’s archetypal triumph arsenic a starter, though helium threw for lone 168 yards and nary touchdowns successful the victory. (The New England defence had a brace of pick-sixes and 3 interceptions wide connected Peyton Manning that afternoon.) He wouldn’t propulsion his archetypal touchdown walk until Week 5.

But by the clip Bledsoe was acceptable to return, Brady had won the starting gig. As the play went connected and the Patriots continued to triumph games — mostly acknowledgment to the defense, but besides acknowledgment to immoderate highly calm and chill play from Brady precocious successful games — you couldn’t assistance but consciousness that thing peculiar was gathering successful Foxboro.

That each began connected Sept. 23, 2001, erstwhile Tom Brady took implicit astatine quarterback, the commencement of an incredibly singular tally that volition ne'er beryllium repeated successful the NFL.

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