For 20 seasons, Tom Brady was the face of the New England Patriots and led the team to nine Super Bowl appearances, winning six of them, before taking his talents to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and promptly leading them to the title game in year one.
As soon as Brady signed with the Bucs last March, it’s likely that a large number of people quickly hit the internet to see who Tampa Bay’s opponents were for the 2020 season, hoping they were squaring off with Bill Belichick and the Patriots. As we all know, that didn’t happen as the Buccaneers were scheduled to play the four teams in the AFC West given how the rotating division matchups work on the NFL schedule.
The only way the two teams could have matched up would have been in the Super Bowl. And, again, we all know that didn’t happen. Brady and the Bucs did their part but Belichick and the Pats missed out on the postseason altogether for the first time since 2008, the year Brady was knocked out for the entire season in Week 1.
However, in 2021, Tom Brady and the Bucs will match up with the four teams in the AFC East and while we don’t yet know the exact date of the game, we do know that TB12 will be making his highly-anticipated return to Gillette Stadium at some point next season.
Tom Brady won six Super Bowls in 20 seasons with the New England Patriots
Famously taken by the New England Patriots in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft out of Michigan, Tom Brady attempted just three passes as a rookie but took over as the starting quarterback when former No. 1 overall pick Drew Bledsoe went down with an injury in the second game of the 2001 season.
Bledsoe, who’d just signed a 10-year/$103 million contract ahead of that season, never got his job back as Brady led the Pats to an AFC East title, the team’s first in four years, and an improbable Super Bowl victory over the St. Louis Rams.
Over the next 19 seasons, Brady led the Pats to eight additional Super Bowl appearances and won five of them. His six titles are the most by any player in NFL history, as are his four Super Bowl MVP trophies. Brady also won NFL MVP on three occasions and was selected to the Pro Bowl 14 times. In 20 seasons in New England, TB12 completed 63.8% of his passes for 74,571 yards with 541 touchdowns. And that was just in the regular season.
In 41 postseason games with the Patriots, Tom Brady completed 63% of his passes for 11,388 yards with 73 touchdowns.
TB12 had one of the best seasons of his career in his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 43-year-old Tom Brady led the team to an 11-5 record, the team’s best mark in 15 years. The Bucs made the postseason for the first time in 13 years and won their first playoff game in 18 years when they knocked off the Washington Football Team in the wild-card round.
TB12 & Co. then went on to defeat Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round before beating Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship Game to earn a trip to Super Bowl 55 in their home stadium.
In year 21 in the NFL, Tom Brady had one of the best overall seasons of his career. He completed 65.7% of his passes (tied for the fifth-highest percentage of his career) for 4,633 yards (the fifth-highest total of his career) with 40 touchdowns (the second-most of his career).
Tom Brady will return to Gilette Stadium to play the New England Patriots as the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021
As the New England Patriots visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the last time the teams in the AFC East and NFC South squared off in 2017 (Tom Brady threw for 303 yards and a touchdown that day to lead the Pats to a 19-14 victory), the Bucs will head to Gillette Stadium in 2021.
While every team knows exactly who and where they’re playing in 2021, the NFL won’t release the full schedule until sometime in the spring, usually in a primetime special in May. One would think with Tom Brady returning to Foxboro in a Buccaneers uniform to play against Bill Belichick that the league would put that game in a high-profile spot on the schedule, likely on Sunday Night Football on NBC where it wouldn’t have to compete against any other game.
UPDATE: As we predicted, Brady and the Bucs will square off with the Pats on SNF in a Week 4 matchup on October 3.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference