Tom Brady may have the most Super Bowl victories of the four star quarterbacks in Sunday's conference championship games, but that doesn't mean he gives the New England Patriots an automatic edge against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In 10 appearances in the AFC title game, Brady has a 76.3 passer rating, 12 TDs and 12 INTs. That's more like Brock Osweiler than Tom Brady.
Brady had some struggles in last week's playoff win over the Houston Texans, and FOX Sports' Chris Chase explained why that's a bad sign for Sunday. Let's take a look at Brady's AFC championship history; it's not as great as you might think.
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2001: Patriots 24, Steelers 17
Stats: 12-18, 115 yards, 0-0 TD/INT, 84.3 rating
Brady, who replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe as the starter in the second game, was replaced by Bledsoe against Pittsburgh after suffering a knee injury. Bledsoe tossed the Pats' only TD and New England scored two special-teams TDs and picked off Kordell Stewart three times to reach the Super Bowl, where Brady earned MVP honors and Adam Vinatieri's winning kick knocked off the St. Louis Rams.
AFP/Getty ImagesJOHN RUTHROFF
2003: Patriots 24, Colts 14
Stats: 22-37, 237 yards, 1-1 TD/INT, 76.1 rating
This was the first time Brady and Peyton Manning faced off in the playoffs — Brady had won their first three regular-season matchups, including a 38-34 shootout at Indy in Week 12. Brady helped the Pats to a 15-0 halftime lead before Manning got the Colts going, but five field goals by Vinatieri were all the offense New England needed to get back to the Super Bowl, where Brady earned MVP honors again after beating Carolina.
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2004: Patriots 41, Steelers 27
Stats: 14-21, 207 yards, 2-0 TD/INT, 130.5 rating
Ben Roethlisberger was a rookie when he hosted Brady and the defending champs in the AFC championship game, having already beaten them at home in Week 7. But Brady overcame illness to throw two TD passes and a post an incredible 130.5 passer rating, and a pick-six by Big Ben — one of three INTs he threw — spotted the Pats a 24-3 halftime lead en route to the win. They went on to repeat as champs with a Super Bowl victory over Philadelphia, with Brady being edged out by Deion Branch for MVP honors.
Hard to believe, but Brady and Big Ben had not met again in the playoffs — until Sunday.
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2006: Colts 38, Patriots 34
Stats: 21-34, 232 yards, 1-1 TD/INT, 79.5 rating
Brady was 3-0 in AFC championship games — including a victory over Peyton Manning — up until this point. But after winning his first six matchups with the Colts QB, the tide was starting to turn. Brady had lost his past two regular-season games to Manning, getting picked off four times in a Week 8 home loss. And while a Peyton pick-six helped the Pats take a 21-3 lead in the rematch at Indy, Manning rallied with help from Vinatieri, now kicking for the Colts, and marched them down the field in the last two minutes for a TD to take the lead. Brady was picked off in the final seconds to seal it, and Manning went on to win his first Super Bowl.
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2007: Patriots 21, Chargers 12
Stats: 22-33, 209 yards, 2-3 TD/INT, 66.4 rating
Brady was the league MVP during the 2007 season, 17-0 and two wins from a historic undefeated season — and this time there was no Peyton Manning in position to stop him. But Brady almost stopped himself during the AFC Championship, getting picked off three times; he and Philip Rivers combined for five. But Junior Seau helped lead the staunch defensive effort against his old team, and Brady's fourth-quarter TD to Wes Welker lifted New England to 18-0 and another Super Bowl — where Eli Manning and the Giants spoiled everything.
2011: Patriots 23, Ravens 20
Stats: 22-36, 239 yards, 0-2 TD/INT, 57.5 rating
Brady had a pretty tough time against Ray Lewis and the Ravens' defense, failing to throw a TD for the first time in 36 games — until he ran in a score from a yard out for the lead early in the fourth, and the Pats' defense made it stand up despite a solid effort from Joe Flacco. Brady advanced to the Super Bowl where he played much better, as he always does ... only to have Eli Manning deny him again.
USA TODAY SportsMark L. Baer
2012: Ravens 28, Patriots 13
Stats: 29-54, 320 yards, 1-2 TD/INT, 62.3 rating
Brady found himself facing Lewis one final time, with Baltimore again standing between New England and another trip to the Super Bowl. Brady aired it out 54 times and held a 13-7 halftime lead. But this time, Flacco owned the second half, throwing three TDs to rally the Ravens. Baltimore picked off Brady to seal it, then went on to win the Super Bowl against San Francisco and send Lewis off in style.
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2013: Broncos 26, Patriots 16
Stats: 24-38, 277 yards, 1-0 TD/INT, 93.9 rating
Peyton Manning did it to Brady again, completing 32 of 43 passes for 400 yards and two TDs. Brady had beaten his rival in OT in Week 12 at New England and was stellar on the road, but it didn't matter as Manning was leading the Broncos to the Super Bowl in his second season in Denver.
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2014: Patriots 45, Colts 7
Stats: 23-35, 226 yards, 3-1 TD/INT, 100.4 rating
With Peyton Manning out of Indy, Brady enjoyed a rare rout in the AFC championship game ... but little did we know that it was all due to deflated footballs! (Forget those three LeGarrette Blount TDs.) Thus began the Deflategate saga. Brady finished the season by winning Super Bowl MVP in beating the Seahawks, and after he served a four-game Deflategate suspension to start this season, you know he's driven to end this season the same way.
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2015: Broncos 20, Patriots 18
Stats: 27-56, 310 yards, 1-2 TD/INT, 56.4 rating
When the Pats and Broncos met again in Denver for last season's AFC title game, Peyton Manning was a shell of his former self. He'd been hurt and benched for Brock Osweiler before regaining his starting job for the regular-season finale. He threw just 9 TDs and 17 INTs that season.
But as we all know, Manning's final season was charmed. He threw two TDs to Owen Daniels in the AFC title game to stake Denver to the lead, and the Broncos held on when Brady's two-point conversion pass to Julian Edelman was picked off. Brady had one of the worst games of his career, getting picked off two more times, sacked four times and completing less than 50 percent of his passes for the first time in his playoff career.
That's 2-5 against Eli and Peyton in the playoffs. Brady must see those bros in his dreams.