Tom Brady and Steve Spagnuolo have met once under the brightest lights. Brady had yet to lose in that 2007 regular season or the 2008 postseason. Spagnuolo was first-year defensive coordinator.
But it was the Spagnuolo Giants who won Super Bowl 42. Now, 13 years later, Spagnuolo has a chance to repeat the feat of beating GOAT in the final game of the NFL season. This time it’s Super Bowl 55, Spagnuolo again as defensive coordinator, now for the Chiefs.
Since Spagnuolo became the NFL’s defensive coordinator, Brady has faced Spagnuolo’s teams six times. The quarterback is 4-2 in those games, with three of the wins having 300 passing yards. But when Spagnuolo found a way to pressure Brady, his teams had a chance.
MORE: How Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs Can Overcome Their Biggest Super Bowl 55 Weakness
In 2020, Brady completed 43 percent of his passes under pressure, but 71 percent of his passes with a clean pocket, according to The Washington Times. Just like 13 years ago, if Spagnuolo’s defense can pressure Brady it could decide the NFL championship.
Here’s a look at how Super Bowl 42 went, along with the other previous meetings between Brady and Spagnuolo.
Tom Brady vs Steve Spagnuolo in Super Bowl 42
The Patriots and Giants unknowingly got a preview of Super Bowl 42 in week 17 of the 2007 regular season. New England was trying to wrap up a perfect regular season and barely made it in a 38-35 win. That day, New York only fired Brady once. For a team led by double-digit catch artists Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck along with future Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, that wasn’t enough.
Spagnuolo was the Giants’ defensive coordinator that season, the first time he held DC’s job in the NFL. In 2018, Spagnuolo spoke on NFL Network, recalling how the Giants succeeded in their Super Bowl rematch of the regular season loss.
New York came up with a pair of keys for the confrontation with Brady. The first was simply “hitting” him.
“Jessie Armstead makes fun of me for this,” Spagnuolo said, “but at one point during the week I said, ‘Look, it doesn’t matter if we stop him from throwing it or not, let’s make sure we hit it. ‘He told me this later, he said,’ That doesn’t sound good. He said, ‘Coach, I’m not so sure I agree with that. But our boys accepted it and we hoped, the hope was to be able to frustrate it a little. That was the first. “
As they tried to put enough pressure on Brady to hit him, the Giants also had to hold out at the rear. Brady threw 50 touchdowns that season. Randy Moss was an ever-present deep threat, as was Donte Stallworth, while Wes Welker dominated out of the slot.
Spagnuolo didn’t want to give up passes of more than 20 yards, and the Giants did: Brady’s longest pass of the night was 19 yards.
In 2007, Brady wasn’t the pre-capture wizard he is now. Some of the costumes Spagnuolo designed worked enough to put pressure on Brady, leading to two sacks of Tuck and five overall. But Spagnuolo acknowledged in that segment two years ago that Brady now deciphers pressure patterns much better.
“Tom now, for me, it’s the things he does before the snap,” Spagnuolo said. “He can control the tempo, go really fast. It’s all about the cadence to get guys to jump out of the game and he has a complete control system, I mean, that’s what he lives on, that’s why he uses the whole clock. What he can do before the serve is the most challenging thing for me. “
Spagnuolo may not have exactly the same level of passing speed that he had with those Giants, but the Chiefs have playmakers on the defensive side of football. If Kansas City can disguise what it wants to do and put Brady down, Spagnuolo could get another ring from Brady.
Tom Brady vs. Steve Spagnuolo story
|Date||Brady’s team||The Spagnuolo team||Spagnuolo position||Punctuation||Notes|
|December 29, 2007||Patriots||Giants||Defensive coordinator||38-35, Patriots||Brady threw for 356 yards and two TDs while being sacked only once less than two months before Super Bowl 42.|
|February 3, 2008||Patriots||Giants||Defensive coordinator||17-14, Giants||Brady was sacked five times while throwing just one touchdown in Super Bowl 42.|
|December 22, 2013||Patriots||Crows||Senior defensive assistant||41-7, Patriots||Brady didn’t contribute much to the score, throwing for 172 yards and a touchdown.|
|January 10, 2015||Patriots||Crows||Secondary coach||35-31, Patriots||Brady threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns while being intercepted once and sacked twice in the AFC divisional round.|
|November 15, 2015||Patriots||Giants||Defensive coordinator||27-26, Patriots||Brady threw for 334 yards and two touchdowns while being selected once and sacked three times.|
|Dec 8, 2019||Patriots||Bosses||Defensive coordinator||23-16, Chiefs||Brady threw for 169 yards and a touchdown while being intercepted once and sacked three times.|
Note: The data above begins with Spagnuolo’s first NFL defensive coordinator job with the Giants in 2007. From 1999 to 2006, he worked in various roles with the Eagles, but none as impactful on defense as the roles he has held since 2007 onwards. are highlighted in the table.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.