Tom Brady returned to New England last night for the first time since he left the team ahead of last season. But it was also the return of Sunday Night Football viewers as millions tuned in to watch the drama unfold.
The NFL has struggled to keep viewers of the past few seasons, but on Sunday many returned in droves. Deadline reports that the game drew in 22 million viewers among the most sought-after 18-49 demographic. That’s up almost 60 percent from Sept. 26’s nailbiter between Green Bay and San Francisco. These are early figures, though, and NBC expects them to climb as they factor in streaming viewers.
The NFL has hyped this match-up since the league announced the schedule earlier this year. And commentators have starred this showdown as one of the most anticipated of the year. And, for the most part, the game delivered.
The Patriots stalled Tom Brady and kept him out of the rain-soaked endzone. He finished the night with 269 yards through the air. But a strong running game propelled the defending Super Bowl champs to a 19-17 win over the home team. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who looked like the successor to Brady that the Pats have hoped for, finished with two scores on 275 yards passing.
The game ended as a last-second, 56-yard New England field goal clanked off the uprights.
Fans had mixed reactions about Brady’s return. Some cheered him on and waved signed thanking him for his years of service and Super Bowl wins. Others, though, acted more like jilted lovers and booed him even as he broke the all-time career passing record early in the first quarter.
The Buccaneers are now 3-1, and the Patriots slipped to 1-3.
Tom Brady, Bill Belichick Had Private Meeting After the Game
While last night’s Sunday Night Football game was full of on-field drama, there was a lot of speculation about what happened between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick after the game. Belichick arranged for a private meeting with Tom Brady in the visitor’s locker room. They spoke for about 20 minutes, reports said.
Rumors have dogged them since the 44-year-old Brady walked away from the team that he led to six Super Bowl titles. Commentators believe there was behind-the-scenes infighting between Brady and Belichick. Though, they’ve both denied those accusations.
It’s unclear what they discussed, and neither of them was willing to say.
“We’ve had a personal relationship for 20-plus years,” Brady said after that meeting. “He drafted me here. We had a lot of personal conversations that should remain that way. They’re very private.
“I would say, so much is made of our relationship. … Nothing is really accurate that I ever see. It definitely doesn’t come from my personal feelings or beliefs.”