The heavily anticipated week 4 match-up is finally here! Tom Brady returns to his old stomping grounds at Gillette Stadium after spending 20 seasons in a Patriots uniform. His tenure in New England included 9 AFC Championships, 17 AFC East division titles (with 11 consecutive from 2009-2019), and he hoisted the Vince Lombardi trophy 6 times. Tom Brady was named the starting quarterback for New England in 2001 after Drew Bledsoe was injured in week 2 by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis. It wasn’t just the end of Bledsoe as a starter for the Patriots but the catalyst that would launch the Tom Brady Era that would last two decades under Bill Belichick.
Brady broke the internet and caused a media frenzy after the 2019 season when he became a free agent and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There were rumors surfacing of him wanting to join the 49ers, where he dreamed of playing since he was a kid, but San Francisco was convinced that Jimmy Garoppolo was their guy. Ultimately it came down to the Chargers or the Buccaneers. On March 20th of 2020, Brady announced that he was signing a two-year contract with Tampa Bay, and the rest was history. What easier way to coast into retirement than moving to the sunshine state to escape the brutal winters? What a Genius!
“I have great respect and admiration for my time there,” said Brady last week. “I had 20 great years there. I’ve kind of spoke that the last 18 months. It was a great time in my life, but I’m really happy to be here, and I think we’ve done some great things in a short period of time. I really love the teammates that I have; that I’m playing with here. I love the coaches. The organization has been amazing. Again, it’s just a lot of gratitude for me.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are headed to Foxborough to take on Mac Jones and the New England Patriots— who are coming off back-to-back losses. In the first season after Brady left for Tampa, the Patriots ended the 2020 season with a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The year Brady tore his ACL. Cam Newton was signed right before the 2020 season. With no pre-season games due to the pandemic, Cam struggled to get acclimated to his new offense. Jones was drafted by the Patriots’ 15th overall and went on to take Cam Newton’s starting job before Week 1 of the NFL season. Jones was the starting quarterback for Alabama under Nick Sabin from 2017-2020, winning two National Championships. Mac’s winning ways have yet to be displayed in his early NFL career in New England. In week 3’s loss to the New Orleans Saints, Jones threw for 270 yards, 1 touchdown, and three interceptions.
Buccaneers quarterback, Tom Brady, will face the only team that he has yet to beat— after spending the first 20 years of his career under Bill Belichick. Apparently, things did not end smoothly with the Patriots, who refused to give Brady an extension. Under the circumstances, this week’s Sunday Night Football game has been the talk of the NFL due to the obvious tension between Belichick and Brady. Tom is also on track to eclipse the passing yard record held by future Hall of Fame New Orleans quarterback, Drew Brees. Brady only needs 68 more yards to surpass the record of 80,358 passing yards in a single career. It is only fitting that Tom Brady will make history while playing in his old stadium against the team that launched his career.
“I’m just going to try and do what I always do, go be a great quarterback,” explained Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. “Obviously, I understand the opponent. I know all those guys. They are some of my great friends, and they will be for the rest of my life. I know a lot of coaches, players, the owners, the staff. It will be great to see everyone after the game, but up until the game, I am focused on trying to go win a football game.”
In addition to the return of Tom Brady to New England, this highly anticipated match-up will also include the return of tight end, Rob Gronkowski. Gronk retired from the Patriots in March of 2019 after winning 3 Super Bowls with Brady and Bill Belichick. It is yet to be announced if Gronk will take the field on Sunday Night due to the rib injuries that he sustained in week 3 against the Rams.
Tampa Bay is on the hunt for their first win on the road after falling short to the Los Angles Rams 34-24 in week 3. The Buccaneers will need to perform well on the road due to the fact that they have 9 away games this season. Of course this game against the Patriots will have the biggest spotlight but that can not take away from the improvements Buccaneers head coach, Bruce Arians, wants to see in his team on both sides of the ball.
Make sure to tune in to this week’s Sunday Night Football game. It will be one for the books!
Kick-off is set for 8:20 PM ET.