Mac Jones outshines Tom Brady as former Patriot sets NFL passing record

Last-minute field goal miss hands Brady bragging rights on Foxborough homecoming

Tom Brady's much ballyhooed return to New England to face his former team and longtime coach, Bill Belichick, was not the homecoming he envisioned.

The warm welcome before the game from fans who had adored him for two decades melted in a steady downpour as he took the field at Gillette Stadium to boos.

Brady’s former teammates treated him rudely, not allowing him to find his rhythm passing the ball and limiting him to 269 yards passing and no touchdowns.

After the game, Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians said Brady had played “very carefully. . . In crunchtime when we had to get us field goals, he got it done.”

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In this first and perhaps only showdown between Brady and Belichick, Brady’s play was good enough to prevail in a sloppy, penalty-filled game of field goals, dropped passes, missed tackles and costly penalties.

The Buccaneers won 19-17 to move to 3-1 as they try to defend their Super Bowl title, while the Patriots fell to 1-3, despite a standout performance from the rookie who has replaced Brady, Mac Jones.

Brady was lucky to leave with a win. He was outplayed by Jones, who showed why the Patriots drafted him in the first round this spring. Brady looked unsteady, missing receivers and settling for field goals instead of touchdowns.

Still, when he completed a 28-yard pass to receiver Mike Evans in the first quarter, Brady became the NFL’s career passing leader, surpassing the record of 80,358 yards set last year by Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback who retired at the end of the season. Brady now has 80,560 career yards passing.

New England noted the record on the stadium’s video screens and there was a burst of cheers but it was otherwise business as usual as fans snapped back into form.

They roared when Patriots linebacker Matt Judon sacked Brady for an eight yard loss in the second quarter. Brady, though, did what he’s done so many times: he came alive when the stakes were high.

Down 7-3 with less than two minutes left in the first half, Brady quickly completed four passes for 69 yards to put the Buccaneers in a position to score. Then he missed three straight passes and the team settled for a field goal to narrow the deficit to 7-6 at halftime.

Jones overcame poor pass protection and a lack of a running game to keep the Patriots in the game. He completed 31 of 40 passes, including 19 completions in a row, for 275 yards and two touchdowns.

Belichick also called two trick plays, including one in which receiver Jakobi Meyers threw to receiver Nelson Agholor for a 30-yard gain.

Many of Jones’ passes went to receivers being defended by Richard Sherman, the All-Pro cornerback who was signed last week as a free agent by the Buccaneers.

The Patriots had a chance to win the game with less than a minute remaining, but Nick Folk’s 56-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright. Brady took a knee and the clock ran to zero.

Brady's homecoming was anticipated from the moment the NFL announced the season's schedule in the spring. The game had all the elements the league's broadcasters crave: A star player, feeling jilted, facing his old team led by the longtime coach who discovered and developed him.

Last season, Brady answered the biggest question- whether he could win without Belichick - when he led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title.

But as details have emerged about Brady’s departure, with his allies claiming that Belichick did not respect the quarterback’s input, the game took on the feeling of a grudge match.

Brady and Belichick both played down the supposed feud, and the Buccaneers published a photo of Brady talking warmly to Patriots owner Robert Kraft before the game. But the aggressive play by both defences showed both teams were eager to win. - This article originally appeared in The New York Times.