Ryan L. Fox
For nearly two decades, the New England Patriots enjoyed an unprecedented amount of success that was not only unmatched in football but in all of sports. This was in part to the coach-quarterback combo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. With both of them on the Patriots, the team been to 9 Super Bowls while winning 6 of them, had a multitude of AFC Championship appearances, and over a dozen AFC East Divisional titles. But in a shocking decision, the Patriots allowed Brady to walk in free agency during the NFL 2020 offseason. There were reports that there was a small strife between Brady and Belichick and despite each side saying there wasn’t any, there clearly was and that ultimately led to the decision of Tom Brady leaving the team.
On Sunday night, Tom Brady made his return to Gillette Stadium with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who he led to a Super Bowl championship in 2020. Being showered by boos, cheers, and the rain, the man simply known as ‘The GOAT’ and his team did battle against the hometown Patriots for 60 minutes in the cold and wet October night. But when it mattered the most, one team was able to get the big play and one team could only just stand there and hang their heads in defeat.
The Patriots received the ball to begin the game but started at their own 40 thanks to the opening kickoff going out of bounds to begin the game. Patriots QB Mac Jones quickly got the offense going, peppering the Tampa Bay defense with quick passes while getting the ball into Tampa Bay territory. But then a sack and incompletion on back-to-back downs killed the drive as the Patriots were forced to punt the ball away.
The Buccaneers got the ball back on their own 11 as QB Tom Brady trotted out onto the field in front of Pats nation. The Buccaneers got as far as their own 45 before being forced to punt. But on the punt, Patriots PR Gunner Olszewski muffed the ball at his own 4. Luckily for Olszewski, the ball touched the pylon and was ruled a touchback.
After forcing the Patriots to punt the ball, the Buccaneers got the ball back on their own 18. Brady let the Buccaneers down the field against the Patriots defense. This also included a 28-yard pass to WR Mike Evans on 1st and 10 at the New England 42 down to the New England 14, which made Tom Brady the all-time passing yards leader in NFL history. But the Buccaneers drive stalled out at the New England 11 as they were forced to settle for a 29-yard field goal attempt. K Ryan Succop booted the ball through the uprights, to give the Buccaneers the early 3-0 lead with 4:49 remaining in the first quarter.
Following the kickoff, the Patriots got the ball back at their own 25. Once again, Jones tried to lead the team down the field. But on 3rd and 10 from their own 42, the rookie QB tried to find WR Nelson Agholor over the middle. But the ball got tipped by Buccaneers CB Russ Cockrell and into the waiting arms of teammate SS Antoine Winfield Jr. at the Tampa Bay 34.
The Tampa Bay offense took to the field as once again Brady was the maestro of the drive. He peppered the Patriots defense with both short passes as well as hitting WR Antonio Brown with a deep 27-yard pass on 3rd and 4 at the New England 48 down to the New England 21. But the Buccaneers drive ultimately stalled out at the New England 18. Succop trotted on to attempt a 36-yard field goal but the kick ended up sailing wide left, giving the Patriots the ball at their own 26 with 14:49 left in the second quarter.
A holding penalty on the opening play on the drive backed the Patriots to their own 16 as it looked like the offense woes would continue. But Jones was able to pepper the Buccaneers defense with pass after pass, including a 15-yard catch-and-run to WR Jakobi Meyers on 3rd and 3 from the New England 33 to the New England 48. From there, the Patriots offense was able to find its groove and move the ball down the field. They were also aided by two costly pass interference penalties by the Buccaneers secondary that kept the drive alive. The Patriots got the ball all the way down to the Tampa Bay 11 where on 2nd and 7, Jones found TE Hunter Henry over the left side as the tight end bowled his way into the end zone for the touchdown. K Nick Folk booted the PAT through the uprights to make it 7-3 in favor of the home team with 8:28 left in the quarter.
Following an exchange of punts, the Buccaneers got the ball back on their own 5 with 1:49 left in the quarter. As he did so many times while wearing the Patriots uniform, Brady orchestrated a quick 2-minute offense drive. This included back-to-back deep bombs to WR Chris Goodwin (28-yards and 26 yards) that put the ball into New England territory. Following a quick 11-yard pass from Brady to TE Cameron Brate to the New England 26, the Brady ended up throwing three consecutive incompletions. With 18 seconds left before halftime and facing a 4th and 10, the Buccaneers ended up settling for a field goal as Succop’s 44-yard attempt sail through the uprights to make it 7-6 with 13 seconds left before halftime.
A quick ‘knee on three’ by Jones ran the clock out as both teams went into their respective locker rooms.
When the second half began, the Buccaneers got the ball to begin things. But after quick three-and-out, they ended up punting the ball away to the Patriots, who began their first possession of the second half at the Tampa Bay 38.
The Patriots opened the second half up with RB Damien Harris catching a 9-yard pass from Jones down to the Tampa Bay 29 and then picked up the first down on the ensuing play (1-yard run to the Tampa Bay 28). With 1st and 10 at the Tampa Bay 28, Jones found RB J.J. Taylor over the right side for a short swing pass. But then Taylor got up-ended by Winfield Jr., fumbling the ball as CB Richard Sherman scooped the ball and returned it to the Tampa Bay 32.
Then following the ensuing Buccaneers punt, the Patriots got the ball back at their own 23. Following a 4-yard swing pass from Jones to Agholor, Jones got sacked on consecutive drop backs to put the ball at their own 12. P Jake Bailey booted the fourth down punt to the Tampa Bay 29 where PR Jaydon Mickens got it and began his return. He reached the Tampa Bay 34 before getting levels my Patriots ST/WR captain Matthew Slater as the ball came out and was recovered by CB Johnathan Jones at the Tampa Bay 34. But the big play was wiped out as Slater was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty (he was forced out of bounds during the punt but made no real attempt to get back in bounds). The Patriots were backed up to their own 6 as Bailey booted the ball to the Tampa Bay 36. Mickens was able to bring the ball back to the Tampa Bay 48, giving his team excellent field position.
Starting on their own 48, Buccaneers relied on RB Leonard Fournette to carry the load. On the drive’s first four plays, Fournette racked up 25 yards (2 carries for 14 yards and 1 catch for 11 yards) as the team got down to the New England 20. Following a 9-yard pass from Brady to Evans to the New England 11, RB Ronald Jones II got the ball twice. First was a 3-yard run to the New England 8 and then the next carry was an 8-yard touchdown run. Succop booted the PAT through the uprights as the Buccaneers regained the lead, 13-7 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, KR/RB Brandon Bolden brought the ball up to the New England 23. Jones then opened the drive up with a quick 21-yard pass to Harris to the New England 44. He then followed that up with a 13-yard pass to Agholor to the Tampa Bay 43 and Jones entered into a groove. He threw 4 consecutive passes as the Patriots offense got down to the Tampa Bay 1 as the third quarter came to a close.
On the opening play of the fourth quarter at the Tampa Bay 1, Jones dropped back and found TE Jonnu Smith in the back of the end zone to tie the game up at 13-13. It was Folks PAT that broke the tie and helped the Patriots regain the lead 14-13 with 14:57 left in the quarter.
Both teams then ended up trading fields goals and leads with one another. First the Tampa Bay Buccaneers retook the lead 16-14 with a Succop 27-yard field goal with 7:58 left in the fourth quarter to cap a 15-play, 68-yard drive that took nearly 7 minutes off the clock (6:59 to be exact). The Patriots responded that with an 8-play, 66-yard field goal that ate up 3:24 off the clock that was finished off with a Folk 27-yard field goal (his 36th field goal in a row) to make it 17-16 with 4:34 left in the game.
With time winding down, the Buccaneers took to the field following the kickoff.
On the first play of the drive, the Buccaneers were assisted thanks to a pass interference on Patriots LB Kyle Van Noy on Fournette that put the ball at the New England 44. Brady then led the Buccaneers offence down the field to the New England 30. On back-to-back throws, Brady tried to find WR Antonio Brown for the touchdown but came up short (the second attempt, the Brown ended up dropping the ball). Succop came in and booted 48-yard field goal through the uprights to make it 19-17 with 1:57 left in the game.
With under two minutes left in the game, the Patriots got the ball back on their own 25. On the first play of the drive, Jones tried to find Henry deep over the middle for a long pass but it was seemingly broken up by Buccaneers FS Jordan Whitehead. But the referees threw the flag and called Whitehead on a very questionable pass interference call (replays showed Whitehead was going for the ball and Henry bumped into him), giving the Patriots 1st and 10 at their own 45.
With time winding down, Jones lead the offense down the field to try and win the game. Following a 7-yard pass to Bolden, the Patriots were faced with 1st and 10 at the Tampa 44. Jones threw three consecutive passes in Meyers, only hitting him once for 7 yards to the Tampa Bay 37. With 59 seconds left in the game and facing a 4th and 3, Belichick elected to go for a 56-yard field goal attempt rather than try to go for the first down. Folk lined up, ready to boot what would be the game-winning field goal as well as his 37th consecutive field goal.
The snap and hold were good as Folk booted the ball as hard as he could. The ball sailed through the air as it had the distance. But as it got closer to the goalposts, the ball began to veer left before clunking off the left upright with a loud thud before falling onto the wet turf.
Patriots players, coaches, media, and fans could only sit there in stunned silence as the Tampa Buccaneers offense came out onto the field. Brady kneeled the ball three times in victory formation to run out the clock for the game’s last few plays.
When the clock read 00:00, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers began to celebrate as they were the victors of a closely contested, sloppy, and hard-earned 19-17 victor over the New England Patriots. However, it was a special moment for Tom Brady. He had beaten the New England Patriots, the team that he had won 6 Super Bowls with, a team where he put them on his back and carried them to the promise land and the coach that was his mentor throughout almost his entire career.
As for the Patriots, the loss dropped them down to 1-3 and into dangerous and unfamiliar territory they had never been in since before Robert Kraft took over the team. It was a bittersweet pill to be beaten by the man that was once the face of the franchise. They could only trudge back into the locker room and wonder what will next week bring them.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
QB Mac Jones: 31-for-40 for 275 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT for a QB rating of 101.6, 1 carry for -1 yards (-1.0 yards per carry)
RB Brandon Bolden: 1 carry for 0 yards (0.0 yards per carry), 6 catches (on 6 targets) for 51 yards
WR Kendrick Bourne: 5 catches (on 5 targets) for 58 yards and 1 TD
WR Jakobi Meyers: 8 catches (on 12 targets) for 70 yards, 2-for-2 for 45 yards for a QB rating of 118.8
TE Hunter Henry: 4 catches (on 5 targets) for 32 yards and 1 TD
DE Deatrich Wise Jr.: 4 tackles (3 solo, 1 assist) and 1 pass defended
LB Matt Judon: 7 tackles (4 solo, 3 assists) and 1.0 sacks
CB Jonathan Jones: 9 tackles (7 solo, 2 assists)
CB J.C. Jackson: 5 tackles (5 solo, 0 assists) and 1 pass defended
S Kyle Dugger: 7 tackles (6 solo, 1 assists)
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
6:00 – The mark in the 1st quarter where Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady became the NFL all-time passing yards leader (80,359), surpassing former Chargers and Saints QB Drew Brees (80,358) for
116– The number of wins by Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium (115 with the Patriots, 1 with the Buccaneers), which is the most amount of wins by a single quarterback at a single stadium in NFL history
.625 – The winning percentage of Patriots Bill Belichick against former his former starting quarterbacks (10-6)
.808 – The winning percentage of Tom Brady against rookie quarterbacks during his career (21-5)
.000 – The winning percentage of the Patriots at home this year (0-3)
19 – The number of consecutive throws by Patriots rookie QB Mac Jones, the most by a rookie QB during the last 30 years
-1 – The amount of rushing yards the Patriots had for the game, the lowest total rushing yards in a single game franchise history
-6 – The turnover differential for the New England Patriots at home now this season (0-3 in those games)
Did You Know That…
- With his victory over the New England Patriots, Tom Brady has become the 4th NFL quarterback in NFL history to beat all 32 NFL teams. The other 3 quarterbacks who have achieved that mark were Brett Farve, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning.
- Sunday Night’s primetime game marked the first time that Tom Brady started a primetime game at Gillette Stadium since a Week 5 43-17 blowout victory against the Cincinnati Bengals during the 2014 NFL season (that was the game following a 41-14 blowout loss against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium the week before and then Belichick uttered the phrase, “We’re On to Cincinnati.”, which has become part of New England sports lore).
- Sunday’s night matchup between the Patriots and Buccaneers marked the first time in NFL history that both NFL head coaches were 69 years old (both Belichick and Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians are both 69 years old)
- Patriots QB Mac Jones 19 consecutive passes in the game not only was the most by an NFL rookie QB during the past 40 seasons. In fact, his 19 consecutive passes actually tied none other than…Tom Brady (a Week 1 28-21 victory at home over the Pittsburgh Steelers back on September 10, 2015) for the most consecutive throws by a Patriots quarterback during the last 30 seasons
- With the quarter of the season over, the Patriots have lost all 3 home games so far this year. This was the first time since Robert Kraft took over as owner in 1994 that the Patriots have done that. Ironically enough, the last time the Patriots went 0-3 in their first 3 homes games of the season was in 1993, the season before Kraft bought the team (they finished 5-11 that year)
My Two Cents
Cent #1: I don’t want to be that guy…but I’m gonna be that guy. So far, a quarter of the season has been played and the Patriots are sitting at a very concerning 1-3 record. This also includes being 0-3 at home where they have a turnover differential of -6 (7 giveaways and 1 takeaway).
During tonight’s game, they made costly turnovers as well as dumb penalties (8 penalties for 77 yards) including one that wiped away what would have been a fumble recovery on a punt return in Tampa Bay territory.
I’m not saying hit the panic button and call 2021 a done season but 1-3 can easily turn into 1-6 in the blink of an eye.
Cent #2: Can the Patriots just find a way to protect Mac Jones and keep him from getting the crap kicked out of him? Against the Bucs, he was hit 12 times and sacked 4 times as well as get hurried. In the Patriots’ four games this year, Jones has been sacked like 10 times and hit probably more than triple that. It just shows how bad the Trent Brown injury (has missed now 4 games due to a calf injury) is and how much of a big piece he is to If this keeps up, Jones is going to pull a Sam Darnold and start seeing ghosts out there when he plays.
And since I’m feeling generous at the moment, I’ll throw another penny
Cent #3: I still can’t get over the fact that Tom Brady is a Buccaneer. The man literally rewrote like nearly ever single NFL passing record, won all his MVPs, all his First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl nominations, and won 6 Super Bowls with the Patriots. For christ sake, he played 20 years with one team. You don’t see that at all in today’s…hell, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any athlete stay that long with one team. That just shows you how rare of a player Tom Brady is.
Fox Fist Bump
You know, this game was just a slugfest that the Patriots I mean, the Patriots played their asses off for the entire game. They fought for 60 minutes, never giving an inch. Whenever the Buccaneers scored, they answered right back. It was tooth and nail
But my god, I don’t think they even come as close as they did winning if Mac Jones was not their quarterback. That kid was just nails throughout the entire game.
He practically went throw for throw with Tom Brady. Even when he was getting teed off on by Buccaneers defenders or when the offense committed a turnover, Jones remained calm and poised throughout. He got crucial first downs when they were needed and his two touchdown passes (one to Hunter Henry and the other to Jonnu Smith) not only gave the Patriots the lead but forced Brady to bring his A-game.
The Meatball of the Game
It was slim pickings to figure out who this week’s meatball was but I was able to find one target: Special Teams captain Matthew Slater.
In the third quarter, the Patriots were forced to punt the ball away to the Buccaneers as PR Jaydon Mickens caught it and returned the ball. On that same play, Slater came out of nowhere and launched himself like a goddamn missile and knocked the ball right out of Mickens hands. The ball was then recovered at the Tampa Bay 34 by his teammate, CB Johnathan Jones, and set up the Patriots in tremendous field position
Except for one, teensy, tiny, little problem.
See, the reason why Slater was able to get down to Mickens and knock the ball out was that during the kick, Slater was running out of bounds nearly the entire time before coming back in bounds and knocking Mickens back into Saturday. That’s a big no-no.
According to the rules, if a gunner (that’s the guy who runs down the field on punts) that has been bumped out of bounds during a punt then he has to get back in bounds ASAP. He can’t just run down the field out of bounds and then come back in bound to level the return man. The refs will give the gunner x amount of seconds to try and get back in bounds.
On that play, Slater made no attempt to get back in bounds once he got knocked out of bounds until he was practically breathing down Mickens. That fumble recovery would have given the Patriots perfect field position and probably lead to a score.
But instead, the fumble recovery gets wiped out because of the penalty and the Patriots have to re-kick. Mickens gets off a better return and the Buccaneers use the big punt return to go down the field and score a touchdown to put them up 13-7 at that point in the game.
Just dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb!
Play of the Game
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