Tom Brady‘s suspension for the first four games of the 2016 season hasn’t proved to be the speed bump the Patriots’ division rivals had hoped. Armed with a stout defense, a surprisingly strong running game, and a young backup quarterback proving more every game he deserves to have a starting gig, the Pats haven’t missed a beat. In fact, the situation kind of reminds us of how the Patriots were when Tom Brady first entered the national consciousness.
Back in 2001, it wasn’t a suspension, but an injury to incumbent starter Drew Bledsoe that threw Brady into the fire. It wasn’t just any injury, either — it was due to an absolutely hellacious hit by then-Jet linebacker Mo Lewis, which caused serious internal injuries as well as a concussion to Bledsoe.
The Patriots were coming off a 5-11 season in 2000, and the game in which that hit happened sent the Pats to 0-2. New England looked destined for another losing season. On top of that, Brady’s first start of that 2001 season was against Peyton Manning’s Colts. An 0-3 start would have all but ended New England’s postseason chances before they even hit their bye.
Good thing they won 44-13.