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Sunday night was a fitting reunion for 2 competitors who’ve never emphasized stats, always ignored ‘the noise'

The Tampa Bay Bucs beat the New England Patriots 19-17 Sunday night. And while Tom Brady might not be a Patriot anymore, he's still subscribing to the 'Patriot way.'
Credit: AP

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady broke the NFL record for career regular-season passing yards Sunday night, and if you blinked you might've missed it. Perhaps that's what we should have expected all along.

ESPN reported prior to the matchup that the New England Patriots planned to pause but not stop the game when Brady reached the milestone, which he did about nine minutes in. And while the crowd did cheer when a message was shown on the Gillette Stadium video board acknowledging the feat, the game was hardly paused. #12 seemed more intent on getting his team into the end zone than celebrating a personal accomplishment -- one of many reasons he and Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick had so much success together.

After the game, Brady focused on the teammates who helped him reach the record.

"I just think it's an amazing statistic in that so many people can share it with me. A quarterback doesn't throw and catch, a quarterback can just throw it," Brady said during his postgame press conference. "Passing yards have to be caught, so I just hope that everybody who caught passes from me over the years just had a little smile on their face tonight just knowing that they contributed to a very cool record."

Belichick and Brady met privately after the game but disclosed very few details of what they talked about.

"We've had a lot of personal conversations that should remain that way and they’re very private," Brady said. "I would say, so much is made of our relationship … Nothing is really accurate that I ever see."

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Brady might not be a Patriot anymore, but he's still subscribing to the "Patriot way": praise others rather than yourself when given the opportunity and don't offer insights or make comments that could become storylines for fans or the media. Belichick should be proud.

The game played out in a fitting way, too. Some expected Brady to light up the scoreboard while others expected Belichick to craft a masterpiece of a defensive game plan, and it ended up feeling like neither. While Belichick was able to slow Brady down, the grind-it-out game in the raw Foxborough weather was more about limiting mistakes and maximizing field position, two underrated elements of football that both Brady and Belichick have preached for years.

Perhaps the buildup was more dramatic than the event itself. For Patriots fans, there's a sense of relief knowing that the homecoming has happened. And with the positive signs Mac Jones showed under center and under pressure Sunday night, fans have reason to be excited for the future.

For those who can't help themselves and simply can't resist Brady-Belichick speculation, imagine if Nick Folk's 56-yard "doink," which essentially ended the game, had gone through the uprights. The Patriots would have gone up 20-19 with about 55 seconds left for Brady and the Bucs to respond against Belichick's defense. As we all know, that's a lot of time for Tom Brady!