Beyond the Bison: New England Homecoming

Kaylee Donnelly, Contributing Writer

While it may have felt like a regular Sunday for the rest of the world, for New England it was an emotional one. On Oct. 3, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced off against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, bringing esteemed quarterback Tom Brady along with them.

In March of 2020, Tom Brady left the Patriots after a 20 year tenure of being their beloved quarterback. During his time at New England, Brady was able to help the team secure six Super Bowl titles, as well as personally earning league records for regular-season touchdown passes, game-winning drives, postseason passing touchdowns, and quarterback wins, along with several others. Nobody could say that his career at New England wasn’t successful. 

Brady was picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the spring, starting off his first season with a team that wasn’t the Patriots since his debut in the NFL in 2000. A testament to the team and Brady’s skill, they pumped out a winning season, finishing second in the NFC South. Even more impressive was the team’s Super Bowl win in early 2021, securing the seventh ring on Brady’s finger, and completing his first season with his new team. 

All this is to say that this past Sunday proved heavy to the New Englanders. The quarterback had to study his old team and his old teammates as the opponents, especially since he knew they were doing the exact same thing. The crowd refused to silence themselves the whole game, occasionally chanting Brady’s name despite him playing for the other team. 

But Brady did not waver, his coaches and teammates describing him as normal, maybe even too normal. Brady even managed to usurp Drew Brees’ record for all-time passing yardage, adding another record to his already extensive list, but did not leave much room to celebrate on the field as his head was in the game. 

The two teams played a tight game until the very end, with Buccaneers up 13-7 late in the third quarter, only for the Patriots to secure a 17-16 lead with around four minutes left. A field goal in the last minutes of the game put the score at 19-17 in Tampa Bay’s favor, where it would stay until the clock ran out.

The game ended in a Buccaneers win, leaving perhaps a bitter taste in the mouth of the Patriots and the rest of New England, but also a sense of closure for the players and viewers who were sad to see him go. Brady smiled and hugged his former teammates and even his old coach Bill Belichick, who he hadn’t seen face to face in over 18 months. Belichick coached the quarterback throughout his entire career at the Patriots, so the reunion was a highly anticipated one. The two were able to catch up in the locker room after the game, much to the satisfaction of some fans and the media. 

The game put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a record of 3-1, showing a successful start for Brady and the rest of the team in hopes for the remainder of the season. 

And despite the score on the board, this game did more than just change a record. The emotions of this game provided something new, a chance for justice and closure. The two teams battled, and whilst one team may have won, a large group of fans were happy no matter what. This homecoming game for the New Englanders did not fail to live up to its hype, providing a thrill of entertainment and emotions for all it’s viewers. While the teams and fans will continue to play and root for their favorite teams, this night will be one many of them will not forget. 

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