The Duel

VIDEO: Remembering When Tom Brady Took One of the Biggest Hits in NFL History Against the Bills

Tristan Jung
Video of Nate Clements knocking Tom Brady's helmet off with one of the biggest hits in NFL history.
Video of Nate Clements knocking Tom Brady's helmet off with one of the biggest hits in NFL history. / YouTube: Iteru
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Tom Brady's 2001 season is rightfully regarded as one of the great underdog stories in sports history. After getting selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady was an unheralded backup in the preseason. After Drew Bledsoe was injured in Week 2, Brady filled in at quarterback and, well, you know the rest.

However, in just the 12th start of Brady's NFL career, cornerback Nate Clements of the Buffalo Bills gave Brady his "welcome to the NFL" moment. In the third quarter, Brady found himself flushed from the pocket with few downfield options. With the Patriots locked in a tight 6-3 game against the Bills, Brady decided to tuck it and run, a decision he'd quickly regret.

Clements leveled Brady with a crushing hit to the chest. The impact knocked Brady's helmet 10 yards in the opposite direction and left him in a heap on the turf. Even in the days before the NFL started cracking down on player safety, it was a massive hit. Of course, given the times of the day, rather than drawing a flag or showing concern, Nate Clements and his teammates celebrated joyously.

Patriots fans were likely worried for a split second, as Bledsoe had been knocked out with a similar chest hit by the New York Jets in Week 2. However, Brady showed that he was tough as nails, popping up immediately and shaking off the hit as if nothing had happened. The Patriots would go on to win the game 12-9 in overtime.

In subsequent years, a more experienced Brady would never put himself and the ball at risk in a situation like this. Deciding to run was an acceptable decision, but rather than head for the sideline or slide, Brady just left himself out in the open to get hit by Clements. It could've ended in total disaster.

Clements, a rookie at the time, would quickly establish himself as one of the NFL's best players. He ended his rookie year with an amazing 53 solo tackles, 10 pass deflections, 3 interceptions, and 1 punt return touchdown. While he's a bit overlooked in recent times, especially compared to Brady, this hit proved that Clements was an unbelievable athlete right out of college.


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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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