In his return to Foxborough, Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 19-17 victory over the New England Patriots.
Of course, 5-10 years from now, many won’t remember the final score. What they will remember is the tribute videos, pictures, and post game hugs and handshakes that he shared with his former teammates and coaches.
But for now, the Patriots are 1-3, and narrowly missed out on defeating their former quarterback in dramatic fashion. That means it’s time to go back to the drawing board, and that means preparing for their next game against the Houston Texans.
Final: Patriots (1-3) 17 : 19 Buccaneers (3-1)
October 3, 8:20p.m. ET | Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA | Broadcast information
Patriots Inactives: LB Ronnie Perkins, RB Rhamondre Stevenson, TE Devin Asiasi, CB Shaun Wade, OT Trent Brown, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, CB Joejuan Williams
Buccaneers Inactives: TE Rob Gronkowski, DL Jason Pierre-Paul, RB Giovani Bernard, CB Jamel Dean, QB Kyle Trask, G Nick Leverett, WR Jaelon Darden
The Patriots are rolling with a similar inactives list as last week. Ronnie Perkins, Rhamondre Stevenson, Devin Asiasi, Shaun Wade, and Trent Brown all remain out as they were last week. Brown will miss his third straight game with a calf injury despite practicing all week.
Ja’Whaun Bentley will be inactive for the first time this season after leaving last week’s game against the Saints with a shoulder injury. Joejuan Williams will also be inactive for the first time this season. Myles Bryant and Jahlani Tavai have been elevated from the practice squad to take their place on the roster. Josh Uche will return to the lineup after missing last week’s game with a back injury, while N’Keal Harry will be making his season debut after being activated off injured reserve.
Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will not be making his return to Foxborough, missing the game with a rib injury. Starters Giovani Bernard, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Jamel Dean will also be inactive.
The Buccaneers won the coin toss and chose to defer. Mac Jones and the Patriots will start on offense.
Bradley Pinion’s opening kick sailed out of bounds, possibly a result of the rainy Foxborough weather. New England started with the ball at their own 40-yard line, picking up an easy first down on two passes in the direction of Richard Sherman. After a second down sack on the following set of downs, Carlton Davis broke up a Mac Jones pass and forced a punt.
Jake Bailey’s punt was downed at the Tampa Bay 11-yard line. That is where Tom Brady took over to a chorus of boos from his former home crowd, a change-up from their show of appreciation pre-game. On an early third down, Leonard Fournette picked up 22-yards to give the Buccaneers some breathing room. They immediately faced another third down, where Brady would miss an open Cameron Brate on a deep crosser.
Bradley Pinion’s punt would be muffed by Gunner Olszewski at the one yard line, but hit the pylon before squirting out of bounds, resulting in a touchback. A lucky break for New England.
N’Keal Harry made his season debut on the Patriots second drive, appearing in New England’s jumbo package. Of course that meant a first down run by the Patriots that went for a loss of four. On the next play, Jakobi Meyers fumbled the ball away to Tampa, but the call was overturned after video review, saying he never gained possesion. On third-and-14, Jones found Brandon Bolden for a gain of just seven, forcing another punt.
After a Buccaneer block in the back penalty, Tampa started their next drive at their own 18-yard line. Brady quickly led Tampa into the red zone, and in the process broke the NFL record for career passing yards with a 28-yard strike to Mike Evans. Without Rob Gronkowski at his disposal, Brady missed his tight ends on two straight passes into the end zone. Tampa settled for a 29-yard field goal. [Patriots 0 : 3 Buccaneers]
New England’s offense returned to the field following a touchback, picking up a quick first down before ultimately being forced into a third-and-long. That’s when a Mac Jones’ pass was deflected up for an interception. Jones got hit hard on the play, and needed to gather himself before getting up and over to the sideline.
Brady and the Bucs took over at their own 35-yard line. A missed holding call, and 12-men in formation penalty, turned a second-and-long into a third-and-1 that Tampa easily converted. They faced another third down two plays later, where Brady hit former Patriot Antonio Brown for a gain of 27-yards and a first down. [END Q1 - Patriots 0 : 3 Buccaneers]
Tampa Bay continued their drive in the red zone, but stalled out again as Brady was without his favorite target Gronkowski. Tampa settled for another field goal attempt, this time a miss from 36-yards out.
Mac Jones and the Patriots offense took over at their own 18-yard line. Yasir Durant replaced Justin Herron along the offensive line. Despite a Michael Onwenu holding penalty setting them up with a first-and-20, Jones played the pocket perfectly on two straight passing attempts, hitting Bourne and Meyers on consecutive plays for a first down. N’Keal Harry drew a holding penalty that pushed New England across mid field. Another Michael Onwenu holding penalty pushed them back, but Jones continued to drive the Patriots down the field, hitting Bourne and Brandon Bolden on consecutive plays for another first down.
Despite gaining just two yards on the ground, and being pushed back by two separate offensive holding penalties, Mac Jones was able to pick apart a weak Tampa Bay secondary. He hit Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, and Brandon Bolden for first downs to get the Patriots into the red zone. Then he hit Hunter Henry for an 11-yard touchdown. [Patriots 7 : 3 Buccaneers]
Mac Jones to Hunter Henry! @Patriots take the lead. #ForeverNE— NFL (@NFL) October 4, 2021
: #TBvsNE on NBC
: https://t.co/50pf7DlJse pic.twitter.com/b3ClnCYJC4
Tampa Bay picked up a first down on their ensuing drive, but a Matthew Judon sack, incompletion, and blown up screen got New England’s defense off the field and sent the Foxborough faithful into a frenzy.
New England’s next drive started at their 32-yard line. In a groove, they went no-huddle and picked up a quick first down, but saw Jakobi Meyers and Damien Harris go down with injuries on back to back plays. That killed all of their positive momentum, as Shaq Barrett sacked Mac Jones putting New England behind the chains on third-and-18. That’s when Josh McDaniels dialed up the trickeration, a double pass that went for 15 yards. Just two yards shy of a first down, they chose to punt from their own 49-yard line with 2:00 remaining, downing it at the Tampa Bay five yard line.
With two time outs and 1:47 remaining in the half, Brady did what Patriots fans have seen him do so many times before, driving down the field to get his team into scoring position before the half. The Patriots defense was able to withhold the pressure and force a 44-yard field goal attempt from Ryan Succop. He split the uprights to bring the game within one. [HALFTIME - Patriots 7 : 6 Buccaneers]
Tampa Bay started the second half at their own 14-yard line following a great special teams tackle by Chase Winovich. Three plays later, they were punting from their own 15-yard line. Gunner Olszewski returned Bradley Pinion’s punt to the Tampa 38-yard line for a net punt of just 23 yards. A strong start for New England.
Damien Harris returned to the game on the Patriots first offensive possession of the second half. He made his first catch on the day, scampering for nine yards. Then he got a hand-off to pick up the extra yard needed for a first down. On the next play, J.J. Taylor was hit in the plate after receiving the ball from Jones and fumbled it back away to Tampa.
That set Brady and the Bucs up at their own 32-yard line, but they were unable to get anything going. They went three-and-out and punted back to New England.
The Patriots offense returned the favor, punting after two straight sacks lost them 11-yards on the series. Jake Bailey punted the ball away, and the Patriots forced a turnover, but were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that negated it. That forced a re-kick that set Tampa Bay up at their own 48-yard line.
The Buccaneers moved past mid-field on their first play from scrimmage. Three plays later they were at New England’s 20-yard line on the back of Leonard Fournette. That is when they switched things up and brought Ronald Jones in, who finished the job and got the Buccaneers into the end zone. [Patriots 7 : 13 Buccaneers]
Mac Jones and the Patriots offense got off to a quick start on their next possession, picking up 34-yards and moving into Tampa Bay territory on two plays. Jones completed four more passes to move New England to the Buccaneer 1-yard line and end the third quarter. [3Q - Patriots 7 : 13 Buccaneers]
On the very first play of the fourth quarter, Jones hit Jonnu Smith for a 1-yard touchdown to re-take the lead. [Patriots 14 : 13 Buccaneers]
Jonnu’s turn pic.twitter.com/EMZXqOkwLy— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) October 4, 2021
Tampa Bay started the next drive at their 25-yard line. They picked up a first down on third-and-short, with Brady finding an open spot in the Patriots defense. New England immediately forced Tampa into another third down situation, where Brady picked up another first down, this time with his legs. Fournette’s next touch went for 24-yards, putting the Buccaneers on New England’s 25-yard line. On third-and-9, Brady beat a Patriots blitz for a 19-yard gain. The Patriots forced one final third down on the drive, getting off the field after an incompletion into the back of the end zone. Ryan Succop made his third field goal of the night. [Patriots 14 : 16 Buccaneers]
Coming off their best offensive series of the season, the Patriots continued to attack Tampa Bay through the air. Completions to Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers pushed them across mid-field, where Josh McDaniels pulled out the razzle-dazzle once again.
.@PATRIOTS TRICKERY. #ForeverNE— NFL (@NFL) October 4, 2021
: #TBvsNE on NBC
: https://t.co/50pf7DlJse pic.twitter.com/KJolYDvpIO
With goal-to-go, the Patriots were unable to pick up anymore yards and settled for a Nick Folk field goal to give them a one-point lead. [Patriots 17 : 16 Buccaneers]
With 4:34 remaining in the game and two timeouts, Tom Brady entered the game needing just a field goal. On first down, he took a shot to Leonard Fournette that produced a pass interference call on Kyle Van Noy, a 31-yard penalty that pushed Tampa Bay into New England territory. On third-and-6, Brady picked up a first down with Justin Bethel in coverage, who came onto the field because of an injury to Jon Jones. That is when New England started playing the time out game, trying to leave as much time on the clock as possible if Tampa was able to score. New England burned their second timeout on a substitution issue with 2:07 left before a third-and-8. That is when Brady looked for the kill shot, targeting Antonio Brown in the end zone, who could not hang on through the ground. Tampa Bay settled for a 48-yard field goal attempt, that Ryan Succop hit to give the Buccaneers the lead. [Patriots 17 : 19 Buccaneers]
The Bucs went for it all on 3rd & 8.— NFL (@NFL) October 4, 2021
: #TBvsNE on NBC
: https://t.co/50pf7DlJse pic.twitter.com/4xZHbzjbhN
With exactly 2:00 remaining and a timeout in his back pocket, Mac Jones entered the game looking to do what Brady had done in the same building so many times before, lead his team on a game winning drive in the fourth quarter. He started at his own 25-yard line, and picked up a 20-yard chunk on a pass interference penalty on the first play of the drive. They moved across the field on a swing pass to Brandon Bolden. On fourth-and-three from the Tampa Bay 37-yard line, New England opted to try a 56-yard field goal. In driving rain, Folk barely missed the kick, giving Tampa Bay the victory. [FINAL - Patriots 17 : 19 Buccaneers]
Following the game, Tom Brady embraced a number of former teammates as well as his former coaches Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick.