- Covered the Buccaneers since 2009
- Joined ESPN in 2016
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Nearly 20 years to the day after his first NFL start, which ignited the New England Patriots’ dynasty and one of the greatest runs in professional sports history, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady broke the NFL’s career passing yards record in his return to Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
With 80,291 career passing yards heading into the game against the Patriots — his first trip back to Foxborough since his departure in 2020 — Brady needed 68 more to eclipse Drew Brees’ 80,358.
Brady broke the record with a 28-yard completion on a crossing route to wide receiver Mike Evans. It set up a 29-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop for a 3-0 lead with 4:49 to go in the first quarter. But unlike when Brees set the record with the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 8, 2018, at the Superdome, there was no lengthy stoppage of play — just an acknowledgement of the record.
Brees was on hand to witness the occasion, working as an analyst for NBC Sports. He had said earlier this week that “Records are meant to be broken.”
Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians had said Friday that he hoped his team could get the record setting “over with” and then “score a bunch more.” It happened on the Bucs’ 12th offensive play of the game.
Brady’s first career start was Sept. 30, 2001, a 44-13 win over the Indianapolis Colts at the old Foxboro Stadium, en route to defeating the St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Prior to Brees clinching the record, Peyton Manning had held it since Nov. 15, 2015.
Among active players, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is closest to Brady on the list at seventh with 60,831 yards, followed by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (ninth, 56,231) and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (10th, 51,633), so Brady’s record should stand for some time.
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