This week, SB Nation is celebrating some of the best random plays and most obscure moments in NFL history — those that will never be forgotten, at least by us. We at Pats Pulpit thought we’d join the action by revisiting three of our favorite weird moments all involving surprise punting.
Tom Brady is the best quarterback of all time, but his contributions to the New England Patriots go beyond ‘only’ throwing the football at a historically high level: Brady also is one of the most prolific surprise punters the NFL has ever seen. Over the course of his career, the future Hall of Famer has kicked the football a combined three times — and every one of the kicks was pretty good considering that he is, you know, not a punter.
Brady’s first attempt came in the 2003 season:
Tom Brady's first career punt: 2003 against Miami. pic.twitter.com/cVyy06NiOq— Bernd Buchmasser (@BerndBuchmasser) July 18, 2019
With the Patriots up 10-0 late in the fourth quarter during their bad-weather matchup against the Miami Dolphins, the offense stayed on the field for a 4th and 10 attempt. It did not run an offensive play, however, but instead opted to let Brady punt — and he did an excellent job: his kick traveled 36 yards and was fielded at the 1-yard line. Starting with tremendous field position, New England’s defense sacked Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler four plays later to force a safety and finalize the end result of 12-0.
After his first career punt, Brady had to wait almost eight full years for his second. During the divisional round of the 2011 playoffs, he got his chance to build on his first kick. And he did:
Tom Brady's second career punt: 2012 against Denver. pic.twitter.com/XfyEU4RamD— Bernd Buchmasser (@BerndBuchmasser) July 18, 2019
New England held a comfortable 45-10 lead over the Denver Broncos with three minutes left in the game and Brady still on the field. Instead of taking any risks on a 3rd and 10 against a defense that employed Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil as edge rushers, the Patriots went with a punt — one that caught Denver by surprise. With the defense not lining anybody up that deep, Brady’s kick was able to roll for considerable additional yardage and 48 yards in total. It still is the longest punt of his career.
Two seasons later, the NFL’s best quarterback was again asked to kick the ball away. This time, the Buffalo Bills were on the receiving end:
Tom Brady's third career punt: 2013 against Buffalo. pic.twitter.com/LXHTC4vSr7— Bernd Buchmasser (@BerndBuchmasser) July 18, 2019
The Patriots faced the rare 3rd and 32 during their regular season finale, and up 16-3 called on Brady’s punting skills again. The kick sailed for just those 32 yards before Bills safety Jim Leonhard caught it fairly. While it was the worst punt of the quarterback’s career statistically speaking, it kept his streak of no return yards being allowed alive. And despite this shorter kick, Brady’s punting skills are still evident when comparing them to other quarterbacks.
Passers kicking the football away is nothing new: Ben Roethlisberger attempted a total of seven punts in his career, Randall Cunningham still owns the third longest in NFL history — a 91-yarder in 1989 — and even ex-Patriot Matt Cassel got in on the action when he kicked the football 57 yards during the 2008 regular season finale. Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and John Elway saw action at punter, while Danny White and Steve Spurrier even played dual roles for their teams.
All in all, 22 quarterbacks attempted more than one punt over the course of their careers and Brady’s 38.7-yard average ties him for seventh among them. So the next time you are in a debate about his ranking among the all-time great QBs (hint: he’s number one) you can add his punting skills to the table.