Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went head to head with Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Sept. 9 to kick the National Football League (NFL) season off.
“The atmosphere was so electric I have never seen so many people in my life,” said Peyton Bailey, senior communications major at The University of Tampa. “The stadium was so jammed packed with hundreds of fans with no masks; it felt like we were back to normal like old times before the pandemic.”
The Buccaneers opened up their season to a maximum capacity home crowd which allowed true home field advantage for the first time in over a year. With tickets ranging from $180 to $300, the showdown was worth the price of admission at Raymond James stadium as Tampa won 31-29.
The Cowboys led by Prescott came out hot despite the packed stadium. Dallas’s defense was near perfect and Prescott was locked in and comfortable in his first game back from his season ending ankle injury.
The 28 year old out of Mississippi State threw for 403 yards alongside three touchdowns and one interception. Prescott shredded through the thin Bucs secondary to set Greg Zuerlein up for a 48 yard field goal to put the Cowboys up 29-28 with 1:29 to go in the fourth quarter.
Before the game was at the make or break moment, the Bucs went neck and neck with the Cowboys as some defensive injuries weakened their dominant play.
Despite the minor setback, Brady and Rob Gronkowski carried the Bucs to a victory as Brady connected with Gronk twice in the endzone.
“I think I was actually on a route, and then he checked me into blocking, then checked me into blocking and releasing,” said Gronkowski in an ESPN article. “I was like, oh man, he just sees it all on the field, it’s impressive, he’s been playing for like 80 years, so he’s seen every defense and every player.”
The future Hall of Fame tight end racked up his 100th touchdown thrown by Brady. The pair sit second at most quarterback to tight end touchdowns in NFL history.
Tom Brady and his head coach Bruce Arians made some history themselves as they are the oldest coach and quarterback duo. At 44 years old, Brady has proved his skill despite his age and threw for 379 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
At the end of the game, Tom Brady orchestrated a near perfect drive to set the team up for a game winning field goal which marked his 40th career comeback victory. Ryan Succop, who was the unsung hero of the night, drilled a 36 yard field goal to put the Buccaneers on top with 2 seconds remaining.
The Buccaneers are now 1-0 and look forward to next Sunday, Sept. 19 where they will be staying home to take on Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.