Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said there will be no surprises when he returns to Gillette Stadium for a highly anticipated meeting with the New England Patriots on Sunday night.
"I know what the wind is like. I know how their team is going to prepare," Brady, who led the Pats to six Super Bowl titles during a tenure that spanned from 2000 through 2019, told ESPN's Jeff Darlington. 'I know what their schedule is going to be like. I know what's going to be said."
Jeff Darlington @JeffDarlington
This Sunday, Tom Brady goes back to New England for the most anticipated game of the regular season. And as he tells me in a sit-down interview that will air this Sunday on Sunday NFL Countdown, he's ready for everything. Literally... everything. An excerpt: <a href="https://t.co/DiLxRqaAWj">pic.twitter.com/DiLxRqaAWj</a>
Although most of the outside focus will be on Brady's return to New England, both sides have tried downplaying the situation given the importance of the game itself.
The Patriots dropped to 1-2 after a loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday and could use a bounce-back performance in order to keep pace with the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.
"Look, I have so much respect and appreciation for Tom and everything he did here, and for me and for our team," Pats head coach Bill Belichick said Monday on WEEI (via ESPN's Mike Reiss). "We're just getting ready to compete against Tampa this week, and we're going to keep our focus on that."
Meanwhile, the Bucs are coming off their first loss since Week 12 of the 2020 season to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
"I'm not going to necessarily reminisce," he said. "I don't think this is the moment for that. I'll have plenty opportunities to reminisce about my football career—none of it, none of which I really care to do right now because I'm so much in the moment. I'm not going to be thinking about 20 years of history. I'm going to be thinking about one night of football, a Sunday night game coming off a really tough loss."
Brady and Belichick were the most successful duo in American sports for nearly two decades, and at least some of that success can be directly attributed to the same qualities they're trying to display ahead of Sunday's marquee clash—being laser focused on the next game and not the big picture or outside noise.
That said, it's hard to imagine the Week 4 game won't be a little special for both sides and, since the quarterback and longtime Patriots coach after both competitors, getting a win in their first head-to-head meeting would be meaningful.
Brady's right, though. There won't be many secrets heading into the prime-time clash. Tampa Bay features the more talented roster as New England goes through a rebuilding phase with Mac Jones the potential heir apparent to the Pats' QB throne. But it will all come down the execution.
One thing's for sure: the three-time NFL MVP should get a hero's welcome when he takes the field Sunday night.