All eyes will be on Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and all ears will also be on Adele, when the two finally square off in Week 4.
Well, people will be paying attention to Belichick and Brady. Adele’s presence only comes in the form of NBC using her hit song “Hello” to tease the long-anticipated showdown between coach and quarterback.
Brady, as is often the case, has an opportunity to make history when his Tampa Bay Buccaneers face Belichick’s New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. If the seven-time Super Bowl champion hopes to secure a 3-1 record and join a rare NFL club in the process, he’ll need an old friend to lend a hand.
Tom Brady needs Rob Gronkowski to help him make history against the New England Patriots in Week 4
We know the setup of this movie by now. Brady spent 20 seasons with the Patriots and won six Super Bowls under Belichick. Now, the three-time NFL MVP returns to Foxborough, Mass., as a conqueror rather than a hero.
The Sunday Night Football matchup also marks a homecoming for Rob Gronkowski, the Buccaneers’ star tight end. The four-time first-team All-Pro selection won three rings in New England before he retired after the 2018 season. Since returning to football in 2020 and teaming up with Brady in Tampa Bay, the five-time Pro Bowler has resembled his younger self far more than he did at the end of his Patriots tenure.
Here’s where things get especially interesting. Brady has beaten 31 of the league’s 32 teams, from the Arizona Cardinals through the New York Jets, in his 22 NFL seasons. The team missing from that list? Why, it’d be the Patriots, who he’s obviously never faced.
Gronkowski could very well prove to be the key in Brady’s hopes of taking down Belichick. The veteran tight end recorded 16 catches for 184 yards and four touchdowns through his first three games, putting him on pace for 90 catches, 981 yards, and 23 touchdowns in a 17 game season.
Don’t be surprised to see Sunday night become the Brady and Gronkowski show in New England one last time, especially if the legendary quarterback is feeling petty. What better way to stick it to Belichick than by having him watch a Gronk Spike while trailing by three touchdowns?
Who are the other quarterbacks who defeated all 32 NFL teams?
The NFL has had 32 teams since David Carr and the Houston Texans began playing in 2002. As one might expect, the list of quarterbacks who have beaten all 32 teams isn’t exactly that extensive.
- Brett Favre spent the bulk of his career with the Green Bay Packers. As a member of the Minnesota Vikings, he founded the 32-teams-defeated-club (we’ll eventually come up with a better name) in October 2009 when he threw three touchdown passes against his former team on Monday Night Football. While in Green Bay, he defeated the Atlanta Falcons — the team which drafted him in 1991 — for the first time on Dec. 18, 1994.
- Peyton Manning spent 13 seasons slinging touchdowns for the Indianapolis Colts. As a member of the Denver Broncos, he opened the 2014 season with three touchdown passes against his former team in a 31-24 victory on Sept. 7, 2014. The Colts got their revenge four months later with a road victory in the AFC Divisional Round.
- Drew Brees played his first five seasons with the then-San Diego Chargers. Interestingly, the Chargers weren’t the final team he needed to beat when he joined the club in 2018 because he’d already defeated them three times before. Instead, the Baltimore Ravens stood in his way. It took a rare missed extra point from Ravens kicker Justin Tucker to give Brees a 24-23 win and victories over all 32 NFL teams.
For those curious, Brees won his lone game against the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 7, 2004. Elsewhere that day, Brady threw two touchdowns in a 40-22 road victory over the then-St. Louis Rams. Manning totaled four passing touchdowns in a last-second 31-28 win over the Vikings.
Don’t be surprised if Brady faces the Patriots one more time down the line
Considering Brady is 44 and doesn’t play in the AFC anymore, we’re willing to hear out the idea that this will be his only regular-season game against Belichick and the Patriots.
Still, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to see him face them again down the line. The seven-time champion has repeatedly talked nonstop wanting to keep playing for as long as he’s can. He’s even publicly floated the idea of playing until 2027 when he’d be 50 years old.
Let’s say Brady decides to play another three seasons. He’s currently scheduled to become a free agent in March 2023, less than five months before he turns 46. Would anyone really be surprised if he signed with an AFC team scheduled to play the Patriots that year?
According to the Patriots’ official website, the team already has 14 of its 17 opponents determined for the 2023 season. Maybe we should start preparing to see Brady leading the Broncos into Foxborough that fall. However, only time will tell if Belichick is still coaching the Patriots or if Bill O’Brien or Joe Judge has replaced him.