Finally! Rams’ Nemesis Tom Brady Retires ‘For Good’
The Los Angeles Rams franchise was the victim of some of Tom Brady’s most memorable victories.
Long-time Los Angeles Rams adversary Tom Brady announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a 23-season NFL career. While Brady’s announcement came a year to the day of a previous declaration, there is a true sense of finality this time around, with Brady claiming in his morning announcement that he is leaving the game “for good.”
Thus ends one of the most, if not the most, illustrious careers in NFL history, one spent between New England (2000-19) and Tampa Bay (2020-22). Along the way, Brady caused plenty of heartbreak across the league, but the Rams were among his most frequent victims, particularly when the spotlight was at its brightest.
While Brady’s record against the Rams was a relatively pedestrian 6-4, including 4-3 in the regular season, different incarnations of the franchise were on the wrong side of his finest hours. Two of his seven championship rings were earned against the Rams, including his first earned through the famous victory at the end of the 2001-02 campaign. The 20-17 Super Bowl XXXVI triumph over the Rams, then based in St. Louis, featured one of the first examples of a Brady comeback, guiding the New England Patriots on a nine-play, 53-yard drive that led to Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal as time expired.
Brady accounted for every yard on the trek, the bulk of it earned through a 23-yard hook-up with Troy Brown that got the Patriots into St. Louis territory. Despite throwing for only 145 yards, Brady earned MVP honors to cap off his improbable debut season as the Patriots’ starter.
“I think about that Super Bowl quite often,” then-Rams quarterback Kurt Warner told USA Today in 2022. “If there’s one game I think about more than any others … it’s the game against the Patriots because we didn’t play our best game on that big stage.”
“Not only did you lose that opportunity, but you also know that it started the great Patriots, Tom Brady dynasty,” continued Warner, whose 26-yard equalizer to Ricky Proehl on the previous drive lay forgotten thanks to Brady’s heroics. “You’re always going to be at the beginning of that story.”
The Rams, stationed in their current home of Los Angeles, had a chance for revenge 17 years later when they did battle with New England in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. Though Brady was held in check to the tune of 262 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception, he still played a role in the Rams’ demise with a 29-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski that set up Sony Michel’s two-yard score, the only touchdown of a 13-3 victory.
It was hardly consolation, but that victory was Brady’s only Super Bowl triumph where he did not earn MVP honors, the award instead going to Julian Edelman.
“There’s a reason why he’s arguably one of the greatest of all time,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said in the pregame hype of that latter game. “He does an excellent job of identifying whatever defensive structure you’re in, whether you want to pressure, whether you want to try to put pressure with a four-man rush and play loaded zone or some man principles behind it.”
“He’s got such an ownership on being able to get the ball out of his hand in a timely manner.”
The Rams earned a quantum of revenge en route to a title of their own in last winter’s NFC Divisional playoffs in Tampa Bay. In denying Brady and the Buccaneers consecutive Super Bowl titles, the Rams withstood one of the quarterback’s trademark comeback efforts, shaking off his work in erasing a 27-3 deficit with a Matt Gay field goal as time expired in a 30-27 win. True to form, Brady earned his own vengeance in November, engineering a late comeback to earn a 16-13 victory that partly helped Tampa Bay earn the NFC South division title.
Though they posted a losing record against him, the Rams were one of the few teams that were able to hold Brady somewhat in check: over seven regular season meetings, Brady posted a passer rating of 91.0, standing as one of only seven squads to hold him to that number or worse.
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