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Did Tom Brady really forget it was fourth down? Explaining the viral meme & how it started

Sporting News logo Sporting News 10/18/2020 Jordan Heck

Tom Brady is one of the most recognizable faces in the NFL, so whenever he does anything weird it immediately becomes noteworthy.

That's what happened in Week 5 of the 2020 NFL season when Brady seemingly forgot what down it was. He held up four fingers, leaving many to assume he thought there should be an additional fourth-down play. The announcers were confused, as were many on Twitter who turned the moment into a meme.

We'll go through the incident in full below.

Tom Brady 4th down confusion

Down by one point, Brady was set to make a game-winning drive against the Bears. The Bucs took over with 1:13 remaining on the game clock on their own 25-yard line.

Brady picked up a first down on the first play of the drive. He then threw four more passes, three of which were incompletions, and ended the drive and the Bucs' hopes of winning the game. But after his fourth incompletion, Brady stood around and held up four fingers, seemingly indicating he thought there was an additional down to be played.

It was an odd moment, and it of course led to strong reactions.

Did Tom Brady really forget it was 4th down?


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After the game, Brady was asked twice about that play and never gave a direct answer as to whether he knew what down it was.

"I knew we needed a chunk and I was thinking about more yardage and then, you know, it was just, it was bad execution. We had a great opportunity there. So just didn’t execute when we needed to,” Brady said in response to one question.

"Yeah, we just, you’re up against the clock and I knew we had to gain a chunk so I should have been thinking more first down instead of chunk on that down," he said in response to the second question.

Bucs coach Bruce Arians didn't say much about the play other than a short response of, "Yeah, he knew."

It's hard to buy Arians' comment of Brady "knew" considering the footage. Also, the fact Arians didn't say much more about the play is another indication that he just wanted to move on from that play.

Tom Brady 4th down meme

tom-brady-4th-down-meme-FTR © Provided by Sporting News tom-brady-4th-down-meme-FTR

After Brady apparently forgot what down it was, people couldn't help but turn the moment into a joke. After the game, fans poked fun at Brady's age, but they also turned the image of him holding up four fingers into a meme.

Steelers receiver Chase Claypool joined in on the fun after his four touchdown performance in Week 5.

Brady was also able to poke fun at himself after LeBron James won his fourth NBA championship.

The meme template is pretty simple: if something involves a four, you can simply swap out Brady's face with the relevant person.

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