FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A notion that seemed preposterous only days ago was thrust into reality Sunday night at Gillette Stadium.
All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who signed Wednesday with the Bucs and didn’t expect to log any game action until the Oct. 10 home game against the Dolphins, started in the injury-decimated Bucs secondary and played virtually the whole game.
By halftime, Sherman had a team-high five tackles, one pass-interference whistle (in the second quarter) and even more pressure to step up on minimal preparation.
Shortly before halftime, starting cornerback Carlton Davis had to be assisted off the field after sustaining a left quad injury while on the punt return unit. Davis didn’t return.
“I think it’s easy for him because he’s an 11-year vet,” inside linebacker Devin White said.
“He’s a very intelligent person off the field, so that makes football really easy for him. And when you’ve got a guy like Coach (Todd) Bowles (defensive coordinator), he’s going to break it down for you. He’s going to help you out.”
Still, when the second half commenced, Sherman and veteran Pierre Desir — cut by the Seahawks in late August — were the starting corners. Before Sunday, neither had played a defensive snap in 2021. Moreover, neither was with the team just three weeks ago.
Less than four minutes into the second half, Sherman recovered a J.J. Taylor fumble forced by safety Antoine Winfield Jr. On the Patriots’ late field-goal drive that gave them a 17-16 lead, he surrendered a 21-yard Mac Jones completion to Jakobi Meyers in single coverage.
But he also finished with a team-best seven tackles.
“We were out there letting him know like, ‘This coverage you’ve got this,’ and ‘Play this,’” White added. “You tell him what to do and he’ll do it. So I think that’s what made it easier.”
By the numbers
3 Career forced fumbles by Winfield
7 Career fumble recoveries by Sherman
15 Career rushing touchdowns by Ronald Jones, tied for ninth-most in franchise history. Jones had an 8-yard TD in the third quarter
50 Tom Brady’s victory total as a starting quarterback since turning 40
49 Combined win total of Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Warren Moon and Vinny Testaverde after turning 40
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69 Age that Bucs head coach Bruce Arians turned Sunday
91 Rushing yards Sunday by tailback Leonard Fournette (on 20 carries)
92 Rushing yards totaled by Fournette in first three games
A statistical Mount Rushmore
By eclipsing the NFL’s career regular-season passing-yardage record previously held by Drew Brees, Brady became one of only four players in NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball history to lead their sport in titles won and own a major stat.
The other three (according to ESPN Stats & Info): Bill Russell (NBA’s career rebounds leader), Maurice Richard (NHL goals) and Babe Ruth (big-league home runs).
In addition to Davis (quad), Winfield exited late in the game and was evaluated for a concussion. Neither returned.
Davis suffered his injury on a Bucs punt return late in the second quarter. Arians explained he was in on special teams because it was a “punt-safe situation” and the Bucs were keeping an eye out for the fake.
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