Drew Bledsoe entered the NFL in 1993 as the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. Leading up to the draft there was debate about whether Bledsoe or Rick Mirer would be the first selection in the draft. The New England Patriots made the right decision with Bledsoe, as the 6-5 signal caller had an excellent rookie campaign with 15 TDs and 15 INTs.
Bledsoe and the Patriots
Drew Bledsoe was an outstanding quarterback for the New England Patriots from 1993 to 2001. Bledsoe fashioned a rocket arm and the toughness that few quarterbacks in the league could rival. He could make every throw on the field but was hurt at times by his lack of mobility. When Bledsoe had good protection, he usually would shine on the field, but when he was constantly under pressure, he lacked the skills to improvise.
During his time in New England, Bledsoe set several team passing records including passing yards and touchdown passes. He also led his team to the Super Bowl in 1996 but lost to Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. In 2002, Bledsoe was injured in week two and was replaced by Tom Brady. Brady rallied the 0-2 Patriots into the playoffs. In the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brady was injured in the first half. Bledsoe entered the game with the Patriots leading 7-3 and threw a touchdown to put the Patriots up 14-3. He led New England to a 24-17 win over the favored Steelers, sending the Patriots back to the Super Bowl to face the “Greatest Show on Turf” and the St. Louis Rams. Despite his heroics in the AFC Championship Game, Brady got the start in the Super Bowl. However, Bledsoe helped the team win their first Super Bowl by helping them get there the week before.
Bledsoe in Tight Games
Drew Bledsoe normally played very well in tight games. Late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, Bledsoe tossed more touchdown passes than interceptions. He led his team to 33 fourth-quarter comebacks over his career.
During the last game of his rookie season, Drew Bledsoe came of age. It was January 2, 1994 and the New England Patriots hosted the Miami Dolphins. On their final drive of the fourth quarter, Bledsoe was 7-9 for 68 yards and a touchdown. The teams played to a 27-27 tie in regulation, but in overtime, Bledsoe fired a 36-yard touchdown pass just 4:44 seconds into overtime to give the Patriots a 33-27 win. "I didn't see Timpson real clearly when I threw it but I saw the defensive back trailing him," Bledsoe said. "I saw the ball coming down and then I was on the ground and I heard the crowd go crazy." For the game, Bledsoe was 27-43 for 329 yards and four touchdown passes and only one interception. It was the first 300-yard passing game of Bledsoe’s career. (1)
It was November 13, 1994 and the Minnesota Vikings had built a 20-0 lead in the second quarter. That is when Drew Bledsoe embarked on an NFL record day. He completed an NFL record 45 passes and attempted another NFL record 70 passes. When the game was over Bledsoe had thrown for 426 yards and three touchdowns, but even more impressive was the fact he did not throw an interception. The Patriots won the game 26-20 on a Bledsoe touchdown pass. "In the past few weeks, I've had some bad games," Bledsoe said, "but I want everybody to realize I'm here for the long haul. I'm going to be the Patriots' quarterback for a while, barring injury. There'll be some bad games and some good games, but I'll be here. Personally, I'm not going to get too high after games like this, or too low after games when I throw four interceptions." After the game, Bledsoe said his arm felt fine: "It's fun if you're a quarterback and you go out and throw it 70 times." (2)
During a September 19, 1999 game against the Miami Dolphins, the New England Patriots trailed 28-7 at halftime. Once again, Drew Bledsoe worked his magic. In the second half, Bledsoe was nearly perfect, completing 17 of 26 passes for 178 yards including three touchdowns. He finished the game 29-45 for 299 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots came back to win 31-28. The 24 unanswered second-half points led to the third biggest comeback in New England Patriots history. (3)
The Buffalo Bills were playing at the Minnesota Vikings on September 15, 2002. It was a back and forth battle that once again required the heroics of Drew Bledsoe. With just 21 seconds left in the game, Bledsoe drove the Bills for the tying field goal. Then in overtime, he launched a 48-yard touchdown pass to Peerless Price to seal the victory 45-39. For the game, Bledsoe completed 35 of 49 passes for a career best 463 yards and he added three touchdowns. After the game, Peerless Price said, "With Drew, if you're down, 40-0, you believe you can win." (4)
Drew Bledsoe in Buffalo
After Drew Bledsoe was supplanted in New England by Tom Brady, he was traded to the Buffalo Bills before the 2002 season. Bledsoe paid dividends to his first season in Buffalo by returning to Pro Bowl form, his 4th Pro Bowl of his career. Bledsoe was able to pass for over 4000 yards and he threw 24 TDs. He consistently stood strong in the pocket despite defenses coming after him. Bledsoe led the Bills to an 8-8 record.
After an off year in 2003, Bledsoe returned to form again in 2004 throwing for nearly 3000 yards and 20 TDs. The Buffalo Bills would finish 9-7 and at the end of the season they decided to release Bledsoe.
Bledsoe Time in Big D
In 2005, Bledsoe was reunited with Bill Parcells, by signing with the Dallas Cowboys. Bledsoe had a fine season, completing over 60% of his passes while throwing for over 3000 yards, 23 TDs and 17 INTs. When Bledsoe was on, he was unbelievable, but when he played poorly, the Cowboys lost most of those games. Bledsoe and the Cowboys finished 9-7 in his first year in Big D.
During preseason in 2006, Coach Bill Parcells had Tony Romo play an entire preseason game. Parcells wanted to see if Romo was ready. Bledsoe would start the season as the starter, but after a poor performance against Philadelphia, the writing was on the wall. Then in the first half of a game against the New York Giants, Bledsoe threw an interception down by the goal line, ending a Cowboys’ drive. Tony Romo started the second half and never looked back. Drew Bledsoe retired from the NFL after the season.
Drew Bledsoe’s Career Numbers
Drew Bledsoe played a total of fourteen seasons in the National Football League. During that time he completed 3839 of 6717 passes for 44611 yards with 251 touchdowns and 206 interceptions. He ran the ball 385 times for 764 yards and 10 touchdowns. With his staggering numbers and his late game heroics, Bledsoe has a chance to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
By A. Goodin, 20Yardline.com
Drew Bledsoe Biography Sources:
(1) The Last Hurrah (?) If So, It’s a Dramatic Farewell (1994, January 3), The Boston Globe