Tom Brady leapfrogged Drew Brees to become the NFL’s all-time leading passer with a 28-yard completion to Mike Evans in the first quarter against his former team. | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Brady rallied the Buccaneers to a 19-17 victory over the Patriots on a rainy Sunday night, with Ryan Succop hitting the winning 48-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Playing as a visitor at Gillette Stadium wasn’t the only big change for Tom Brady on Sunday night.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion, six with the Patriots, struggled in the rainy conditions much of the evening. He was booed — often.
Being Brady, he also won.
Brady took Tampa Bay on a 45-yard drive aided by a 31-yard pass interference penalty, and Ryan Succop made a 48-yard field goal for a 19-17 victory. While most of the game was not a classic for the 44-year-old quarterback, the march to victory seemed fitting in a place Brady has won 135 of 158 games.
Brady threw for 269 yards, but the Bucs (3-1) scored only one touchdown, on an eight-yard run by Ronald Jones. With the game in the balance, he watched from an unfamiliar sideline as Patriots kicker Nick Folk had a 56-yard field goal hit the left upright in the final minute.
Brady then hugged dozens of his former teammates and coaches at midfield — a quick one with Bill Belichick — as the rain intensified and Gillette Stadium emptied in silence.
Even when he set the record for yards passing in a career on a 28-yard completion to Mike Evans in the first quarter, there was a mixture of cheers and applause along with the jeers.
Brady, 44, reached 80,359 yards through the air and then called a timeout before the next play — though no announcement had been made about setting the mark. That came during the timeout.
Ryan Succop’s field goal a few plays later — after Brady misfired on a couple of throws — gave Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead. By halftime in a steady rain, Brady looked ordinary in the highly charged atmosphere, and the Buccaneers trailed 7-6. Brady was 15-for-27 for 182 yards, with a few pinpoint completions and just as many overthrows.
Patriots rookie Mac Jones finished 31 of 40 for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
The Patriots are 1-3 for the first time since 2001.
The Buccaneers were hurt by multiple mistakes on defense as well as spotty special teams play — marked by poor punts, a missed early field goal and costly penalties.
But Tampa was able to come up with timely plays to stay in the game, including Antoine Winfield Jr. forcing a fumble by J.J. Taylor that was recovered by Richard Sherman to thwart a promising drive early in the third quarter.
With Tampa Bay down 17-16, Brady and the Buccaneers took over on their own 25 and needed just seven plays drive to the Patriots 30.
After Antonio Brown failed to hang onto a pass in the end zone Succop calmly connected on a 48-yarder with 2:02 left.
Leading 7-6, the Patriots punted and Matt Slater appeared to recover a fumble by Jaydon Mickens. But an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Slater negated the play.
The Bucs took over and finished an eight-play, 52-yard drive with an eight-yard scoring run by Ronald Jones.
The Patriots responded on their next possession, using six straight completions by Jones to drive to the Bucs’ 1. Jones then found Jonnu Smith in back of the end zone for to put the Patriots back in front 14-13.
Tampa marched all the way to the Patriots’ 8 on their ensuing drive before being forced to settle for Ryan Succop’s third field goal of the game to make it 16-14. New England took back over with 7:58 left in the game and quickly moved down the field, getting into the red zone on a trick play that ended with receiver Jakobi Meyers throwing a 30-yard pass to Nelson Agholor. The drive stalled there and the Patriots nudged back in front 17-16 on Nick Folk’s 27-yard field goal.