Tom Brady’s list of accomplishments could fill a phone book, well, if phone books actually still existed. Before he retires he will likely own records for most wins, touchdowns, yards and Super Bowls among others. But thanks to his Josh Gordon’s scintillating touchdown Thursday night against the Colts he also holds another noteworthy distinction.
That touchdown pass to Gordon marked the 71st different player to catch at least one scoring pass from Brady, moving him past Vinny Testaverde for the NFL record. It was also the 500th of Brady’s storied career.
“I think all these things like that, milestones and so forth, there are so many people that contribute,” Brady said after the win over the Colts. “So, I just think of all the people that have really worked hard. You know, a quarterback doesn’t throw them to himself. He needs people to catch them and block and defenses make plays and coaches to coach. These are all great team awards. So, pretty cool.”
For his part, Gordon was pretty excited just to be involved.
“To catch any pass from Tom is amazing, let alone some history-making catch or pass,” Gordon said. “I know there’s many more for him to come. The next history point to make for him, I hope to be a part of it. So, it was awesome.”
Looking at the distribution list of the players who will forever own the distinction of having caught at least one touchdown from the best of all time offers some interesting names. Of the 71 players, 20 of them have just one including this year’s addition of Gordon. (Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett also joined the list this season but each has two).
That’s just the beginning. Among the other one-hit wonders is the late Terry Glenn, who also holds the unusual distinction of being Brady’s first-ever touchdown target. That came back on Oct. 14, 2001, against San Diego in Brady’s third career start.
With the score tied at 3 late in the second quarter, Brady hit a diving Glenn inside the left pylon for the first touchdown of his career. Little did anyone know at the time that it would be Glenn’s last in a Patriots uniform as by year’s end he was suspended from the team by Bill Belichick and wasn’t part of the organization’s first Super Bowl title. In a glimpse of the heroics that would soon become commonplace, Brady rallied the Patriots from a 10-point deficit in the final four minutes to win, 29-26, in overtime.
Among the other one-timers are six tight ends (Dwayne Allen, Matt Lengel, Cam Cleeland, Michael Hoomanawanui, Matthew Mulligan and David Thomas), five running backs (Larry Centers, LeGarrette Blount, Heath Evans, Laurence Maroney and Patrick Pass) and an offensive lineman (Tom Ashworth). Others with one TD include Michael Floyd, Andre’ Davis, Charles Johnson, Chad Ochocinco, Brian Tyms and Dedric Ward.
There is another largely forgotten group of players with two career touchdown receptions from Brady including Keshawn Martin, Brandon Tate, Sam Aiken, Kyle Brady, Chris Baker, Alge Crumpler Tim Dwight, Donald Hayes and Marc Edwards.
Not surprisingly, Rob Gronkowski tops the list with 76 touchdowns including one in the opener against the Texans this year. Randy Moss caught 23 in the record-setting season of 2007 and 39 overall for the second spot on the list ahead of Wes Welker (34), Deion Branch and Julian Edelman (24 each).
No other player has more than 18, and 16 players are in double digits including current Patriots James White (16, including four this season) and Chris Hogan (10).
And perhaps the most incredible stat of all is the fact that linebacker Mike Vrabel has eight – all as a goal line tight end of course.