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Live updates: Bucs edge Patriots in Tom Brady’s return to New England

Ryan Succop’s 48-yard field goal with just over two minutes remaining is the difference.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) yells after coming on the field just prior to the Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021 in Foxborough, MA.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) yells after coming on the field just prior to the Buccaneers game against the New England Patriots Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021 in Foxborough, MA. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Oct. 3
Updated Oct. 4

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Ryan Succop’s 48-yard field goal with just over two minutes remaining lifted the Bucs to a 19-17 victory over the Patriots Sunday in Tom Brady’s return to New England.

Rain and Bill Belichick’s defensive schemes conspired to make it a difficult night for Brady, who led the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships during his 20 seasons in New England before leaving to sign with the Bucs following the 2019 season.

But Brady made the plays when he needed to, driving the Bucs from their 25 to the Patriots 30 in the closing minutes to set up Succop’s winning kick, his fourth field goal of the night on five attempts. The drive was aided by a 31-yard pass interference penalty against Kyle Van Noy on Leonard Fournette deep downfield.

The Patriots had a chance to go ahead in the final minute, but Nick Folk hit the left upright on a 56-yard field goal attempt, his second miss on three tries. Bucs linebacker Lavonte David batted down a pass on the previous play that might have given Folk a closer attempt.

Brady finished 22 of 43 for 269 yards with no touchdowns and interceptions in his first game against his former team.

He was outplayed by Patriots rookie Mac Jones, who completed 31 of 40 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

Fournette had a big game, rushing 20 times for 91 yards and catching three passes for another 47. Mike Evans (75 yards) and Antonio Brown (63 yards) had seven receptions apiece.

Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. intercepted a pass and forced a fumble before leaving to be evaluated for a concussion. Cornerback Carlton Davis was ruled out earlier in the game after suffering a quadriceps injury.

Here’s how it happened:

Sleight of hand

New England Patriots kicker Nick Folk (6) kicks a field goal to put the Patriots up 17-16 in the fourth quarter.
New England Patriots kicker Nick Folk (6) kicks a field goal to put the Patriots up 17-16 in the fourth quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Patriots used a trick play to move into field-goal position during a late fourth-quarter drive that put them ahead 17-16 with 4:34 to play.

Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers took a pitch on an end around then stopped and dropped a 30-yard pass into the arms of a wide-open Nelson Agholor down the right sideline.

The play gave New England a first down at the Tampa Bay 9, but they could get no closer and had to settle for a 27-yard Nick Folk field goal.

Bucs go back ahead

Bucs running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs the ball as New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) attempts to bring him down during the fourth quarter.
Bucs running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs the ball as New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) attempts to bring him down during the fourth quarter. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
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Ryan Succop’s second field goal of the game put the Bucs back ahead, 16-14, with just under eight minutes remaining.

Succop’s 27-yard kick capped a 15-play, 68-yard drive stalled after consecutive incomplete passes from the Patriots 8-yard line.

The big play was a 23-yard pass from Tom Brady to running back Leonard Fournette, who took a short screen pass and scampered down the right sideline to pick up a first down at the New England 25.

Unflappable

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) right, celebrates with quarterback Brian Hoyer (5) after a second-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Hunter Henry (85).
New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) right, celebrates with quarterback Brian Hoyer (5) after a second-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Hunter Henry (85). [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones led the Patriots right down the field following the Bucs’ go-ahead touchdown, completing all seven of his passes during a 77-yard drive that spanned the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth to put New England back in front.

A one-yard pass to tight end Jonnu Smith off a play-action fake gave the Patriots a 14-13 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.

Jones has completed his past 16 attempts and is now 24 of 29 for 216 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

Change of fortune

Bucs running back Ronald Jones (27) scores a third-quarter touchdown.
Bucs running back Ronald Jones (27) scores a third-quarter touchdown. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

The Patriots thought had forced a turnover in Bucs territory toward the end of the third quarter. Instead, it was Tampa Bay that benefitted from strong field position.

Matthew Slater knocked the ball out of the hands of Bucs punt returner Jaydon Mickens and the ball was recovered by Jakob Johnson at the Tampa Bay 34.

But Slater was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, nullifying the play. A gunner on the punt team, Slater did not immediately return to the field after being knocked out of bounds, resulting in a re-kick.

Mickens returned the next kick to the New England 48-yard line, and the Bucs drove 52 yards on eight plays, five of them on the ground, to take a 13-7 lead on Ronald Jones’ eight-yard run around right end, with Ali Marpet leading the way.

Throwing his weight around

Bucs outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (9) celebrates his sack of New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) during the third quarter.
Bucs outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (9) celebrates his sack of New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) during the third quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Bucs outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka ended a Patriots drive midway through the third quarter with a sack, but his efforts paled in comparison to those of teammate Vita Vea.

The 6-foot-4, 347-pound Vea took out two Patriots linemen with a power rush, clearing a lane for Tryon-Shoyinka, who swallowed up quarterback Mac Jones, forcing a New England punt.

Splash player

Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) celebrates a first-quarter interception with free safety Jordan Whitehead (33).
Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) celebrates a first-quarter interception with free safety Jordan Whitehead (33). [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. has made two of the biggest plays of the game for the Bucs.

After intercepting a pass in the first half, Winfield forced a fumble early in the second.

Winfield hit running back J.J. Taylor after a short reception, knocking the ball loose, and cornerback Richard Sherman returned it four yards to the Tampa Bay 32.

The Bucs were unable to take advantage of the opportunity, however, and punted the ball back to the Patriots after going three-and-out.

Not helping

Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) is taken down following a 27-yard reception in the first quarter.
Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) is taken down following a 27-yard reception in the first quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Bucs appeared to be moving into Patriots territory on their first drive of the second half, but a 44-yard completion from Tom Brady to Antonio Brown was nullified by a holding penalty against tackle Donovan Smith.

Instead of a first down at the Patriots 38, Tampa Bay lost nine yards on the play, making it third-and-15 from its nine. A short pass to running back Leonard Fournette on the next play gained only six yards, and the Bucs were forced to punt.

In a hurry

Bucs kicker Ryan Succop (3) prepares to kick a field goal during the first quarter.
Bucs kicker Ryan Succop (3) prepares to kick a field goal during the first quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Bucs got the ball at their 5-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in the half, but Tom Brady wasted no time moving the ball down the field.

After a short pass to Antonio Brown gave him some room to work, Brady completed passes of 28 and 26 yards to Chris Godwin on consecutive plays to move the ball out to the Patriots 37.

The Bucs reached the 26 on an 11-yard pass from Brady to Cameron Brate, but three straight incompletions stalled their momentum, and they had to settle for a 44-yard Ryan Succop field goal and 7-6 halftime deficit.

New concern for Bucs’ secondary

Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis (24) is attended to on the field after getting injured during the second quarter.
Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis (24) is attended to on the field after getting injured during the second quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

An already shorthanded Bucs secondary got even leaner just before halftime, as cornerback Carlton Davis pulled up lame during a Tampa Bay punt return and had to be helped off the field.

Davis, who was questionable with an abdomen/rib injury heading into the game, was taken to the locker room on a cart, appearing to favor his left leg.

Davis was later declared out with a quadriceps injury.

Picking on the new guy

Bucs cornerback Richard Sherman (5) reacts after being called for pass interference during the second quarter.
Bucs cornerback Richard Sherman (5) reacts after being called for pass interference during the second quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Patriots threw at recently signed cornerback Richard Sherman a couple of times during a mid-second-quarter drive, and it helped lead to a go-ahead touchdown.

Sherman was called for pass interference on N’Keal Harry on a short pass to the right side of the field, the 10-yard penalty moving the ball to the Tampa Bay 37.

After a holding penalty against Mike Onwenu cost New England the 10 yards, Mac Jones completed a 16-yard pass across the middle to Kendrick Bourne to the Bucs 31 with Sherman in coverage. The play turned a second-and-20 situation into a much more manageable third-and-4.

Five plays — and a pass interference call against Carlton Davis — later, the Patriots got on the scoreboard on an 11-yard pass from Jones to tight end Hunter Henry.

Missed opportunity

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) is seen on the field after being sacked in the second quarter.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) is seen on the field after being sacked in the second quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Bucs drove to the Patriots 18 early in the second quarter but came away empty-handed.

Leonard Fournette couldn’t get to a Tom Brady pass on third and 7, and Ryan Succop missed wide right on a 36-yard field goal attempt, leaving the Bucs clinging to a 3-0 lead.

After an Antoine Winfield Jr. interception gave Tampa Bay possession at its 34-yard line, Brady completed a 27-yard pass to Antonio Brown down the left sideline to give the Bucs a first down at the Patriots 21.

On the run

Bucs running back Leonard Fournette (7) fights for yardage as he is taken down by New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) during the first quarter.
Bucs running back Leonard Fournette (7) fights for yardage as he is taken down by New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (32) during the first quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Running back Leonard Fournette was a big part of the Bucs’ offense in the first quarter, carrying six times for 41 yards, an average of 6.8 per carry.

He was instrumental during a field-goal drive that produced Tampa Bay’s only points of the quarter, rushing for 11 yards on the first play of the drive and later catching a 13-yard pass from Tom Brady on the 10-play, 72-yard drive that resulted in a 29-yard Ryan Succop field goal.

Earlier, Fournette picked up Tampa Bay’s first, first down with a 21-yard run up the middle on the opening drive.

Helpful tip

Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) celebrates a first-quarter interception along with teammates free safety Jordan Whitehead (33), back left, and safety Mike Edwards (32).
Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (31) celebrates a first-quarter interception along with teammates free safety Jordan Whitehead (33), back left, and safety Mike Edwards (32). [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Leading 3-0 with less than four minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Bucs forced their first turnover of the game on an Antoine Winfield Jr. interception.

With inside linebacker Devin White pressuring Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, Ross Cockrell tipped a pass intended for Nelson Agholor deep down the middle into the air, and it was intercepted by Winfield.

Tampa Bay gained possession at its 34-yard line.

Brady becomes NFL’s career passing leader

Tom Brady (12), right, and New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) run up the field after Brady completed a pass to Mike Evans during the first quarter.
Tom Brady (12), right, and New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) run up the field after Brady completed a pass to Mike Evans during the first quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Tom Brady broke Drew Brees’ career passing yardage mark (80,358) with a 28-yard pass over the middle to wide receiver Mike Evans late in the first quarter.

There was little made of it, outside of a graphic on the Gillette Stadium scoreboard, and play continued.

Brady completed a three-yard pass to Antonio Brown on the following play, but the drive bogged down inside the red zone, with Brady’s third-down pass for tight end Cameron Brate from the 11 going incomplete.

Tampa Bay settled for a 29-yard Ryan Succop field goal and early 3-0 lead.

Takeaway taken away

The Bucs nearly got the ball deep in Patriots territory on New England’s second drive.

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett appeared to force a fumble after a short Mac Jones pass over the middle to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. Inside linebacker Devin White scooped up the ball at the Patriots 23 and returned it eight yards to the 15.

But the pass was ruled incomplete pass after a replay review, negating the fumble recovery.

The Bucs got the ball right back, as Ross Cockrell and Mike Evans tackled running back Brandon Bolden well short of the sticks after a seven-yard reception on third-and-14 from the New England 16, forcing the Patriots to punt.

But it cost the Bucs a ton of field possession, as they took over at their 18 following a 49-yard Josh Bailey punt and a penalty against Rashard Robinson for an illegal block above the waist.

First things first

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass during the first quarter.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass during the first quarter. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The Bucs picked up a first down on their opening possession — it took them three drives to move the sticks last week against the Rams — but were forced to punt after the six-play, 34-yard drive stalled at the Tampa Bay 45.

The big play wasn’t produced by the arm of Tom Brady. It came on the legs of running back Leonard Fournette, who burst up the middle for 21 yards and a first down at the 40.

Brady completed 2 of 4 passes on the drive for 14 yards. The drive ended when Brady threw incomplete for tight end Cameron Brate deep down the right side of the field.

Welcomed back

Taking the field

Who’s out

Bucs-Patriots pregame scene a Brady jersey bonanza

Joe Tropeano, a chef from Foxborough, Mass., sports a split Bucs-Patriots Tom Brady jersey in the Gillette Stadium parking lot prior to Sunday night's game.
Joe Tropeano, a chef from Foxborough, Mass., sports a split Bucs-Patriots Tom Brady jersey in the Gillette Stadium parking lot prior to Sunday night's game. [ JOEY KNIGHT | Times ]

A random stroll through a 2,500-square-foot stretch of Gillette Stadium’s sprawling parking lot late Sunday afternoon — more than three hours before Tom Brady’s de facto homecoming formally commenced —resulted in sightings of no fewer than seven variations of Brady jerseys.

That didn’t count Brady-centric T-shirts. One couldn’t deliver a spiral in any direction without hitting a No. 12.

Read Joey Knight’s full story here.

Biggest regular-season game ever?

Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) and wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrate Evans’ touchdown reception against the Atlanta Falcons last month at Raymond James Stadium.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) and wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrate Evans’ touchdown reception against the Atlanta Falcons last month at Raymond James Stadium. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

During their 20 seasons together with the Patriots, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick went to the playoffs 17 times, won 30 postseason games, advanced to nine Super Bowls and won six. Brady went on to win another four playoff games, including Super Bowl 55, with the Bucs last season.

And yet tonight’s game is bigger than all of them.

Well, no, obviously. But given the hype that has surrounded it since the NFL schedule first came out in May and the personal meaning it must have for the two men at the center of it, it’s easy to get that impression.

Though the quarterback and coach have downplayed any rift between them this week, the question of who was more responsible for the Patriots’ unparalleled success is front and center as Brady makes his first return to New England since leaving after the 2019 season to join the Bucs.

As if that isn’t enough, Brady has a chance to eclipse Drew Brees’ all-time passing yardage mark, needing just 68 yards to exceed Brees’ 80,358.

And Bucs coach Bruce Arians will be celebrating his 69th birthday.

For his part, Brady says he is just looking for a win after the Rams ended the Bucs’ 10-game winning streak last week in Inglewood, Calif. Belichick, presumably, wants the same thing for his squad, which dropped to 1-2 following an abysmal loss to the Saints.

Brady’s teammates in Tampa Bay are determined to get a win for him in his homecoming game, especially after he put a Super Bowl ring on their fingers last season. Belichick’s players don’t have the same warm and fuzzy feelings for him, but you can bet new starting quarterback Mac Jones and his mates are eager to get the best of the GOAT in front of a national television audience.

Of course, as NBC analyst and former Patriot Rodney Harrison pointed out, there were a lot of others besides Brady and Belichick who contributed to New England’s Super Bowl success, just as there will be a lot of other players on the field tonight who could impact the outcome of the game.

One of them is five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman, who will start just days after signing with the Bucs due to injuries in the secondary. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, a former Patriot himself, did not make the trip to New England and could be out for some time after suffering a cracked rib, four broken ribs and a punctured lung in the loss to the Rams.

Follow our live updates, starting at 8:20 p.m., as what some are calling the biggest regular-season game in NFL history gets underway at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

— FRANK PASTOR, Assistant Sports Editor

Report: Gronk has punctured lung

Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) is attended after being hit by Los Angeles Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis during last week's game in Inglewood, Calif.
Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) is attended after being hit by Los Angeles Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis during last week's game in Inglewood, Calif. [ KEVORK DJANSEZIAN | Associated Press ]

Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski remained behind in Tampa, but he is sharing more information about the severity of the injury he suffered in last Sunday’s loss to the Rams in Inglewood, Calif.

We reported that a CT scan revealed Gronkowski fractured his ribs when he caught a pass and was hit by Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis.

But it appears the injury is much worse than that.

Read Rick Stroud’s full story here.

Bucs to start Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman, right, talks with fellow cornerback Carlton Davis during practice Wednesday in Tampa.
Richard Sherman, right, talks with fellow cornerback Carlton Davis during practice Wednesday in Tampa. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

Five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Sherman, 33, will start for the Bucs today against the Patriots due to a plethora of injuries in Tampa Bay’s secondary, the Tampa Bay Times confirmed.

The Bucs got some more bad news Saturday, as cornerback Jamel Dean was ruled out and starter Carlton Davis (abdomen/ribs) was downgraded to questionable.

Read Rick Stroud’s full story here.

Gameday scene

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A read on the game

Here’s some of our content leading up to today’s game:

New England might need a couples therapist after Tom Brady visits

Rob Gronkowski won’t play Sunday against Patriots

Tom Brady will have to beat his emotions before taking down Patriots

Rush hour has hit a definite snag for the Bucs defense

Patriots QB Mac Jones trying to carve his own New England niche

Jason Pierre-Paul might be available to play against Patriots

Tom Brady says breakup with Patriots was ‘handled perfect’

Richard Sherman signs with Bucs: ‘An opportunity I couldn’t pass up’

Richard Sherman said he found ‘silver lining’ in offseason arrest

Antonio Brown expected to rejoin Bucs Thursday

How TB12 keeps Tom Brady ageless and thriving in the NFL

Bill Belichick says Bucs’ offense is same one Tom Brady has run ‘his whole career’

Tom Brady vs. Bill Belichick debate ‘stupid,’ Rodney Harrison says

Bruce Arians: Beleaguered Bucs defense ‘not meshing very well

Is Tom Brady vs. Patriots the NFL’s most hyped regular-season game ever?

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