In the first quarter, Brady became the career NFL passing point guard (topping Drew Brees, who was in the house as an NBC reporter), when he hooked up on a 28-yard pass to Mike. Evans. Imagine Babe Ruth hitting his 60th homerun at Fenway in the fall of 1927. The Pats noted the historic moment with a scripted message on the large scoreboard behind the end zone. Brady refused to celebrate the present moment. He knocked over several balls in the first quarter.
The Tampa Bay drive stalled when Brady threw a stray pass into the end zone on the third down. The Bucs were content with a 29-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 4:29 left in the first quarter.
Just around dinner time, Bob Kraft, followed by his film crew, chatted with Bucs backer Leonard Fournette near the 50-yard line, near the Patriots bench. It was pretty clear that Kraft was waiting to document his reunion with Brady, a player Kraft treated like a fifth son most of the time he was in New England.
The moment never materialized in midfield. Brady usually takes the pitch hours before warm-ups, but not that night. TB12 reportedly made it known he would meet Kraft in the bowels of Gillette Stadium, so Kraft and his team snuck off the pitch to the end zone tunnel and found Brady in a hallway near the locker room. Brady was chatting with Brees when Kraft and his team approached. An audio boom hovered over Kraft’s head at all times.
Kraft said hello and hugged Brady as the moment was saved for posterity.
Patriotic yahoos and Brady’s cultists filled Gillette’s parking lots early on. Hundreds (thousands?) Wore Patriot / Brady # 12 jerseys. It was Brady’s first appearance at Foxborough since January 2020 when he threw a 6 pick at Ryan Logan at the end of a playoff loss to the Titans.
But he’s never been far from the New England Mind.
How do you measure the level of pre-game excitement in and around Gillette?
“It was like an AFC championship,” said former Patriots quarterback and color radio host Scott Zolak. “It was like the Colts were coming in for a spanking.
Covered with overwhelming cheers, Brady led his team onto the field just after 7:30 a.m. and walked the length of the pitch (his signature entry when playing here) to a group of admirers in the corner of the Lighthouse in the goals. He finished with the bump fist as fans chanted, “Brady! Brady! ” He got a huge hug for Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
There was a lot of signage. Tom as GOAT (the greatest of all time). Tom like Jesus. After the Bucs returned to their locker room, the Patriots presented a video presentation, which was heavy with Lombardi trophies, confetti, 28-3 and Kraft-Brady hugs (two). The clip featured only one photo of Belichick (shaking hands with Tom as Brady exited the pitch).
Brady’s parents were on hand for “Tommy’s” comeback. It was 60 degrees and raining when the Buccaneers debuted after winning the toss (Coach Tom learned from Bill). Bradley Pinion was kicked out of bounds, allowing Mac Jones and the Pats to start their first run from 40. Jones heard “Linda” before completing his first pass of the night, targeting Richard (“You’re crazy, brother ? “) Sherman.
After the Pats were forced to kick on their first streak, Brady took to the field as many boos.
The feast of love was over. The gloves were off. Patriot fans had paid tribute to the greatest quarterback of all time. It was time to root, root, root again for the home team. Patriotic love conquered Brady’s love.
Brady was unable to put together a scoring streak in his first streak, which looked like a win for the Patriots. New England entered the game with a 7-point underdog, which would have been impossible for a Patriots team of quarterback Tom Brady.
After Tampa took their 3-0 lead, Jones was intercepted. The New England rookie quarterback had little protection on the game.
The super excited Brady, always throwing inaccurate passes, couldn’t capitalize and it was still a 3-0 game at the start of the second quarter.
The Patriots finally rose to the board after the Buccaneers missed a field goal attempt. Jones led an 11-play, 74-yard run, hitting Hunter Henry for an 11-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a surprising 7-3 lead.
Brady led a late practice that ended with a field goal and it was 7-6 at halftime. Who would have thought the Patriots would enter the locker room at halftime with the lead?