That was in 2007, when he ran away to a lopsided win in balloting for The Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year award.
Ditto for 2010.
Brady won the honor Tuesday for the second time in the last four seasons. The record-setting quarterback, who had a string of 355 passes without being intercepted, received 21 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. He easily beat Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who garnered 11 votes.
Also a unanimous choice for the AP All-Pro team, Brady threw 36 touchdown passes and just four interceptions. When he won the award in 2007, Brady set an NFL mark with 50 touchdown passes -- with just eight interceptions -- as New England went undefeated in the regular season.
Brady doesn't sense much difference in the guy who took the Patriots to a 16-0 mark back then and a league-best 14-2 record this season.
"I feel our team really grew together over the course of the season. It was a privilege to be a part of this team," Brady said, according to The Associated Press. "My only disappointment is that we couldn't take advantage of our opportunity in the playoffs, but hopefully we learn from that and use it as motivation toward accomplishing our goals for next season."
What Brady is doing isn't much different: He's winning, and he's piling up dominant stats.
Brady led the NFL with a 111.0 passer rating. His 65.9 completion percentage was second to Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers -- by .1. Nobody came close to Brady's touchdown-to-interception differential: nearest was his former Patriots backup, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, at plus-20.
Brady recorded his second-best marks for touchdown passes, completion percentage and passer rating -- only his 2007 numbers were better -- while throwing for 3,900 yards as the Patriots won the AFC East title and headed to the playoffs as the conference's top seed. New England was upset by the New York Jets in the divisional round of the playoffs.
"It's just something that's been lingering a little bit," Brady said on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access" after the award was announced. "But over the course of the season, a lot of players throughout the league, a lot of players on our team, deal with these type of injuries. I think part of having a little bit of mental toughness is putting those thoughts aside and still going out and trying to perform your best each week.
"I have a great training staff and my friend, Alex (Guerrero), that works with me weekly, so I'm in great hands, and they were able to get me on the field feeling good and able to go out there and help our team win the AFC East, which we're all very proud of."
"I've been here for a while, so I've seen our offense evolve," the 11-year veteran told The AP. "We do some different things now than we've done in the past. Ultimately, we're still trying to do the same thing, which is be productive and win games."
In the "NFL Total Access" interview, Brady credited the Patriots' offensive success to "a collective effort by the group of skill players that we have and the offensive line," said it was "a lot of fun each week trying to find different ways to utilize all those guys so we could go into the game feeling really good, feeling prepared with the game plan, understanding that if we just went out and executed, we were going to score some points."
"Tom studies a lot," Branch said late in the season. "We get the bulk of it in the meeting rooms with just the players, when we sit down to go over the things that he's been looking at. It carries over to the practice field as well. Tom is a dork when it comes to that, so I'm going to leave that alone, but Tom is a dork in that meeting room."
A dork? Hardly a description often associated with a three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback who's married to a supermodel.
"Maybe, yeah," Brady said. "I could see that, you know? I'm flattered."
Also flattering: Brady is the only quarterback and only active player to win the award twice.
Brady is the sixth multiple winner of the award, which has been presented since 1972. The others are Earl Campbell, Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Barry Sanders and Marshall Faulk. Campbell (1978-80) and Faulk (1999-2001) are three-time recipients.
Brady passed for 300 or more yards on four occasions this season, twice threw four touchdown passes -- in Week 12 against the Detroit Lions and Week 13 against the Jets -- and was intercepted by just two opponents. The Jets picked off Brady twice in their Week 2 victory, and the Baltimore Ravens had two in a Week 6 decision over the Patriots.
Brady, who failed to reach 4,000 passing yards after surpassing the mark three times in the previous five seasons, this season climbed to 19th on the NFL's career passing-yardage list (34,744) and into a tie for 10th, with Dave Kreig, for career touchdown throws (261).
Vick, the runner-up for the award, enjoyed a comeback season that led him to the Pro Bowl. After missing two seasons while serving a federal sentence for dogfighting, then sitting as a backup for the Eagles last season, Vick finished fourth in passer rating (career-best 100.2), threw 21 TD passes and just six interceptions, and rushed for 676 yards and nine scores.
Also receiving votes for NFL Offensive Player of the Year were Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (seven), Rivers (five), and Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (two each).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.