For the first time in his career, Brady ran out at the Gillette Stadium — home of the New England Patriots — from the away dressing room.
Returning to his home of 20 years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback got one over his former team, as well as former coach Bill Belichick, with a hard-fought 19-17 victory in heavy rain.
It was fitting that on his homecoming to the venue where he forged his name as arguably the greatest quarterback in history, Brady surpassed Drew Brees 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, ending the night on 269 yards to set the new all-time benchmark for passing yardage at 80,560.
“I just think it’s an amazing statistic in that so many people can share in it with me,” Brady told reporters after the game.
“A quarterback doesn’t throw and catch, a quarterback can just throw it. Passing yards have to be caught, so I just hope that everybody who caught passes from me over the years had a little smile on their face tonight knowing that they contributed to a very cool record.
“There’s some people that have preceded it … Drew Brees, who I look up to as a hell of a guy, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino but obviously my teammates who caught all these passes over the years mean an awful lot to me,” Brady added.
Victory added another entry in Brady’s never ending log of records — he is now just the fourth quarterback in history to have beaten all 32 NFL teams, joining Favre, Brees and Manning.
Patriots kicker Nick Folk was mere inches away from stripping Brady of the accolade and spoiling the homecoming, his 56-yard field goal attempt with less than a minute to play bouncing agonizingly off the crossbar.
‘Nothing’s really accurate that I ever see’
In the run up to the game, Brady had been coy about his feelings surrounding a return to face the team that he left as a free agent in 2020.
Brady won six Super Bowls with Belichick across two decades, but as a Buccaneer has since gone on to secure a seventh ring. Ahead of of Sunday’s game, the quarterback’s father — Tom Brady Sr — had spoken about his son’s most recent Super Bowl success being a vindication for leaving the Patriots.
Brady referenced Belichik as a “great mentor” ahead of his return to Foxborough, but questioned speculation over the pair’s relationship in his post-match press conference.
“We had a personal relationship, for twenty plus years. He drafted me here, had a lot of personal conversations that should remain that way and are very private,” Brady said.
“I would say so much is made of our relationship and, as I said earlier this week, from a player standpoint you just expect the coach to give you everything he’s got.
“I’m sure as a player I’m sure that’s what he was hoping for me, but nothing’s really accurate that I ever see — 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 that are trying to make it successful,” Brady added.
Thanks for the memories
The 44-year-old was welcomed to cheers at the Gillette Stadium and was honored with a one-minute highlight reel pre-game, but was booed as the Patriots attempted to rally for victory during the match.
“That was pretty cool,” 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 great town, a great city, a great area. I love it up here.
“I have so many people I have relationships with, but this was about this team coming up here to win. This wasn’t about one player. This was about our entire team going on the road beating a good team.
“Yeah they cheered for me a little bit but at the end, they were cheering for their team and obviously they wanted the Patriots to come through.”
Victory for Brady and the Buccaneers takes them to a 3-1 record ahead of their home fixture with the Miami Dolphins next Sunday, whilst Belichick’s Patriots will look to turn the tide on their 1-3 start to the season when they visit the Houston Texans.