For the first time in his career, Brady ran into Gillette Stadium – the home of the New England Patriots – from the far away locker room.
Back in his 20-year home, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback earned one on his former team, plus former coach Bill Belichick, with a hard-fought 19-17 win in a downpour.
It was fitting that upon his return to the place where he coined his name as the greatest quarterback in history, Brady surpassed Drew Bryce to become the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards.
The 44-year-old reached the milestone with a 28-yard pass to Mike Evans in the first quarter, to finish the night on 269 yards to set an all-time new benchmark for passing yards at 80.560.
“I think it’s an amazing statistic in that a lot of people can share with me,” Brady told reporters after the match.
“The quarterback doesn’t throw and catch, the quarterback can only throw it. The passing yards have to be caught, so I just hope everyone who’s caught me over the years puts a little smile on their faces tonight knowing they have contributed to a very impressive record.
“There are some people before it… Drew Brees, whom I look up to as a hell man, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, but obviously my teammates who have had all these passes over the years mean a lot to me, Brady added.
Victory has added another entry in Brady’s never-ending recordset – he is now the fourth quarterback in history to beat all 32 NFL teams, joining Favre, Brees and Manning.
Patriots footballer Nick Falk was just inches away from stripping Brady of the award and spoiling the Homecoming, his 56-yard attempt at goal with less than a minute to play a painfully bouncing off the crossbar.
“Nothing really accurate I’ve never seen”
In the lead-up to the match, Brady was shy about his feelings surrounding a comeback to face the team he left as a free agent in 2020.
Brady won six Super Bowls with Belichick over two decades, but as Buccaneer, he’s since gone on to secure the seventh episode. Ahead of Sunday’s game, the quarterback’s father – Tom Brady Sr. – spoke of his son’s recent Super Bowl success as proof of leaving the Patriots.
Brady referred to Belichick as a “great mentor” before returning to Foxboro, but questioned speculation about the duo’s relationship at his post-match press conference.
“We’ve had a personal relationship, for over twenty years,” Brady said. “He molded me here, and had a lot of personal conversations that have to stay that way and be very private.”
“I would say that a lot of our relationship, and as I said earlier this week, from a player’s point of view, you just expect the coach to give you everything he has.
“I’m sure as a player that’s what he was hoping for for me, but nothing really subtle I haven’t seen before – it definitely doesn’t come from my personal feelings or beliefs.
“I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and a lot of respect for this organization and all the different people here who are trying to make it work,” Brady added.
Thanks for the memories
The 44-year-old was greeted by cheers at Gillette Stadium and honored with a highlight reel one minute before the game, but was booed as the Patriots tried to muster the victory during the game.
“It was great,” Brady told NBC when asked about his pre-game reception.
“It’s been my home for 20 years. I have the best memories. My kids were born here. It’s just a wonderful city, a wonderful city, a wonderful area. I love it here.”
“I have a lot of people with whom I have relationships, but this was about this team coming here to win. This was not about one player. This was about our entire team on the road beating a good team.
“Yeah, they applauded me a little bit but in the end, they were cheering for their team and obviously they wanted the Patriots to come in.”
The victory of Brady and the Buccaneers takes them to a record 3-1 before their home game with the Miami Dolphins next Sunday, while Belichick’s Patriots will be looking to turn the tide at a 1-3 start to the season when they visit the Houston Texans. .
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