Tom Brady made his triumphant return to New England, playing against the Patriots in Foxboro for the first time. Unless you live under a rock, you knew all about that already. It was the most hyped-up regular season game in memory, with promotions worthy of cinematic showings trumpeting the epic matchup between TB12 and Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
Even a steady rain couldn’t dampen the over-the-top hype. The game was credentialed for more media than cover the World Series. All 600-plus media in Gillette Stadium witnessed a close, competitive but not particularly well-played game from either team. Tampa Bay prevailed 19-17 when Patriots kicker Nick Folk doinked a 57-yard potential game-winner off the left upright with less than a minute to play.
Brady’s Bucs played without several regulars, notably Gronk at tight end. It didn’t stop Brady from breaking the NFL’s all-time passing yardage mark, surpassing Drew Brees. It also didn’t stop Brady from outrushing the entire Patriots team; Brady ran four times for 3 yards, including kneeldowns at the end. The Buccaneers managed minus-1 net rushing yards on eight carries, only two of which gained any yards at all. It was that kind of game.