FOXBORO, Mass — Sunday was no ordinary game for Tom Brady.
The New England Patriots quarterback stepped onto the Gillette Stadium field for the first time since January, and he sent his loyal supporters home happy with a 35-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
It was a moment Patriots fans have been waiting for ever since Brady announced he would end his fight against Deflategate and serve the four-game suspension to begin the 2016 season, and they certainly let TB12 know how much he meant to them in his triumphant return.
“Yeah, it was a great crowd,” Brady said. “We always get great crowds, and they were into it today. I was glad we could do a lot better there in the second half and finish the game strong. We got off to a little bit of a slow start but finished with 35 points, so it was pretty good.”
Fans chanted “Brady, Brady, Brady” almost every time he stepped onto the field to start a drive, and they reached a fever pitch when Brady down the tunnel with his teammates before the game. And plenty of A-listers were there, too, after they slammed Patriots owner Robert Kraft with ticket requests.
That passionate support, which Brady pointed out extends to all the local teams, wasn’t lost on the quarterback after the game.
“Yeah, it certainly has — I’ve felt it,” Brady said. “They’ve had the back of our team for just the same amount of time. Since I got here in 2000, you feel that with the (Boston) Red Sox, It’s heartbreaking when they lose, like they did Monday night. Then with the Celtics and Bruins, and then certainly for us, we feel it every time we take the field.
“This is my home now; this is where my family lives. It’s a great place. I love being here, and I love being the quarterback of this team. Hopefully I can do it for a long time.”
Even though Brady has been playing in the NFL since 2001 and has four Super Bowls, emotions sometimes can play a factor for him. But he also knows by now how to keep them in check.
“I think I know how to get to that place where I need to be,” he said. “You only have so much energy, and at some point, you’ve got to cut it loose when the moment is right. It’s certainly an emotional environment for football. There were a lot of people there when we ran out, and they were there all game, so it was great.
“And it was great to win. That’s what we want to do. Our job is to come out here and to be focused in what we need to do, and then make a bunch of good plays and then try to beat the opponent, and we figured out a way to do that.”
As far as Week 6 games go, this one certainly wasn’t just another game. It was a homecoming.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images