THE RETURN: On Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), the TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (2-1) visit the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1-2) as quarterback TOM BRADY and tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI make their first appearance as visiting players in Foxborough.
Originally selected in the sixth round (199th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft, Brady spent 20 seasons with the Patriots (2000-19), all under head coach BILL BELICHICK.
Brady, who led the Patriots to division titles in 17 of his 20 seasons, ranks as the franchise’s all-time leader in every major passing category: quarterback wins (219), passing yards (74,571), passing touchdowns (541) and completions (6,377). Each of those totals are the most by any quarterback with one team in NFL history. The 219 regular-season wins are also the most by a quarterback-head coach pairing all-time.
During his postseason career in New England, Brady appeared in 41 games and totaled 1,025 completions, 11,388 passing yards and 73 touchdown passes (all NFL playoff records he extended during the 2020 playoffs with Tampa Bay). Together, Brady and Belichick won six Super Bowl titles, the most by a single player and the most by a quarterback-head coach combination in NFL history. The two won 30 playoff games together, more than twice as many as the next-best duo.
On Sunday night, Brady – who has 80,291 career passing yards – needs 68 passing yards to surpass DREW BREES (80,358) as the league’s all-time passing leader.
With a win against his former team, Brady would become the fourth quarterback all-time to register at least one win against 32 different NFL franchises, joining DREW BREES and Pro Football Hall of Famers BRETT FAVRE and PEYTON MANNING.
Gronkowski was selected in the second round (42nd overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Patriots and ranks first in franchise history in touchdown receptions (79), second in receiving yards (7,861) and fifth in receptions (521). He is also the franchise’s leader in postseason touchdown catches (12) and ranks second in team history in both receptions (81) and receiving yards (1,163) during the playoffs.
Gronkowski, who has 8,668 receiving yards in 134 games with New England and Tampa Bay, needs 16 receiving yards to surpass GREG OLSEN (8,683) for the fifth-most receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history.
The tight ends with the most receiving yards in NFL history:
|Tony GonzalezHOF||Kansas City, Atlanta||15,127|
|Jason Witten||Dallas, Las Vegas||13,046|
|Antonio Gates||San Diego/L.A. Chargers||11,841|
|Shannon SharpeHOF||Denver, Baltimore||10,060|
|Greg Olsen||Chicago, Carolina, Seattle||8,683|
|Rob Gronkowski||New England, Tampa Bay||8,668*|
|*entering Week 4|
— NFL —
ALL-TIME PASSERS: In addition to Brady’s ascent to the top spot as the league’s all-time passing leader, Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS and Pittsburgh quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER can each move up the all-time passing charts when their teams meet on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS) at Lambeau Field.
Rodgers ranks seventh in league annals with 418 touchdown passes and can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (420 touchdown passes) and PHILIP RIVERS (421) for the fifth-most all time. In Week 2, he surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN ELWAY (51,475 passing yards) for the 10th-most passing yards in NFL history.
Roethlisberger has 399 touchdown passes and can become the eighth quarterback all-time with 400 career touchdown passes. He also has 61,149 career passing yards and can surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (61,361) for the sixth-most passing yards in NFL history.
The players with the most passing yards and most touchdown passes in NFL history:
|PLAYER||PASSING YARDS||PLAYER||TOUCHDOWN PASSES|
|1.||Drew Brees||80,358||1.||Tom Brady*||591|
|2.||Tom Brady*||80,291||2.||Drew Brees||571|
|3.||Peyton ManningHOF||71,940||3.||Peyton ManningHOF||539|
|4.||Brett FavreHOF||71,838||4.||Brett FavreHOF||508|
|5.||Philip Rivers||63,440||5.||Philip Rivers||421|
|6.||Dan MarinoHOF||61,361||6.||Dan MarinoHOF||420|
|7.||Ben Roethlisberger*||61,149||7.||Aaron Rodgers*||418|
|8.||Eli Manning||57,023||8.||Ben Roethlisberger*||399|
|9.||Matt Ryan*||56,474||9.||Eli Manning||366|
|10.||Aaron Rodgers*||51,894||10.||Matt Ryan*||351|
— NFL —
FEELING 50: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES is slated to make his 50th career start when the Chiefs (1-2) visit the Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). He has 15,092 passing yards and 123 touchdown passes during his five-year career, both the most by a quarterback in his first 50 career starts.
Since his first career start in Week 17 of the 2017 season, Mahomes has compiled a 39-10 record (.796) as a starting quarterback and with a win on Sunday can join Pro Football Hall of Famer KEN STABLER (40-9-1) as the only quarterbacks whose career began in the Super Bowl era to win 40 of their first 50 career starts.
The quarterbacks with the most wins in their first 50 career starts whose career began in the Super Bowl era:
|Ken StablerHOF||Oakland Raiders||40||9||1||.810|
|Patrick Mahomes*||Kansas City||39||10||0||.796|
|Tom Brady||New England||38||12||0||.760|
|*50th career start in Week 4|
Mahomes is tied for second in the league with nine touchdown passes this season and has recorded three touchdown passes in each of his first three games. With at least three touchdown passes in Philadelphia, he would become the fifth quarterback in NFL history to register at least three touchdown passes in each of his first four games of a season.
The quarterbacks with the most consecutive games with at least three touchdown passes to begin their seasons in NFL history:
|Tom Brady||New England||2007||10|
|Steve YoungHOF||San Francisco||1998||5|
|Kurt WarnerHOF||St. Louis Rams||1999||4|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||2021||3*|
— NFL —
CARR YOU READY: Las Vegas quarterback DEREK CARR leads the NFL with 1,203 passing yards as the Raiders have opened 3-0 for the first time since 2002. He has recorded at least 325 passing yards in five consecutive games dating back to Week 16 of the 2020 season, tied for the second-longest such streak all-time.
With 297 passing yards against the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN), Carr would become the fifth quarterback in league annals with at least 1,500 passing yards through his team’s first four games of a season.
The quarterbacks with the most passing yards in their team’s first four games of a season in NFL history:
|Kurt WarnerHOF||St. Louis Rams||2000||1,557|
|Tom Brady||New England||2011||1,553|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||2019||1,510|
|Derek Carr||Las Vegas||2021||1,203*|
|*entering Week 4|
Carr has passed for at least 375 yards in three consecutive games and registered at least 350 passing yards in each of his past four starts dating back to Week 17 last season. No quarterback in NFL history has thrown for 375 yards in four consecutive games or for 350 yards in five consecutive games.
— NFL —
PERCENTAGE PLAY: Denver quarterback TEDDY BRIDGEWATER ranks second in the NFL with a 76.8 completion percentage (73 of 95) and has recorded a completion percentage of 75-or-higher in each of his first three games this season as the Broncos are 3-0 for the first time since 2016.
With a completion percentage of 75-or-higher on Sunday against Baltimore (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Bridgewater will become the sixth quarterback with a completion percentage of 75-or-higher in four consecutive games (minimum 20 attempts) in NFL history and can join TOM BRADY (2007) as the only quarterbacks to accomplish the feat within a single season.
The quarterbacks with the most consecutive games with a completion percentage of 75-or-higher in NFL history (minimum 20 attempts):
|Alex Smith||Kansas City||2016-17||4|
|Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay||2014-15||4|
|Tom Brady||New England||2007||4|
|Kurt WarnerHOF||St. Louis Rams||2001-02||4|
Dallas quarterback DAK PRESCOTT, who ranks first in the NFL with a 77.5 completion percentage (86 of 111), and Arizona quarterback KYLER MURRAY, who ranks third (76.5 completion percentage; 78 of 102), have each completed above 80 percent of their passes in each of their past two games. On Sunday, they can become the first quarterbacks all-time to register a completion percentage of 80-or-higher (minimum 20 attempts) in three consecutive games.
— NFL —
HOLLYWOOD WIDEOUTS: Los Angeles Rams wide receiver COOPER KUPP – who leads the league in receiving yards (367) and receiving touchdowns (five), and ties for the NFL lead in receptions (25) – and Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver MIKE WILLIAMS (22 receptions for 295 yards and four touchdowns) have each recorded at least seven receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown catch in each of their team’s first three games of the 2021 season.
Kupp, who faces Arizona on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, FOX), and Williams, whose Chargers host Las Vegas on Monday Night Football (8:15 PM ET, ESPN) can become the fourth and fifth players ever with at least 80 receiving yards and one touchdown reception in each of their team’s first four games of a season.
The pair can also join T.J. HOUSHMANDZADEH (2007) as the only players with at least seven receptions and one touchdown catch in each of their team’s first four games of a season in league annals.
The players with at least 80 receiving yards and one touchdown reception in each of their team’s first four games of a season all-time:
|Don MaynardHOF||N.Y. Titans (AFL)||1961||4|
|Randy MossHOF||New England||2007||4|
|Cooper Kupp||L.A. Rams||2021||3*|
|Mike Williams||L.A. Chargers||2021||3*|
— NFL —
SACK STREAKS: The CAROLINA PANTHERS (3-0) lead the NFL with 14 sacks through the first three weeks and are 3-0 for the first time since 2015, when they began the season 14-0 and advanced to Super Bowl 50. Carolina’s BRIAN BURNS and HAASON REDDICK are two of the four NFL players who have recorded at least one sack in each of the first three games this season, along with Denver’s VON MILLER and New York Giants rookie AZEEZ OJULARI.
If both Burns and Reddick record a sack on Sunday at Dallas (1:00 PM ET, FOX), they would become the fifth pair of teammates since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic, to each record at least one sack in each of their team’s first four games of a season.
The teammates to record at least one sack in each of their team’s first four games of a season since 1982:
|2016||Arizona||Markus Golden & Chandler Jones|
|1994||Philadelphia||William Fuller & Burt Grossman|
|1988||L.A. Rams||Kevin GreeneHOF & Mel Owens|
|1983||Miami||Doug Betters & A.J. Duhe|
|2021||Carolina||Brian Burns* & Haason Reddick*|
|*sack in each of first three games|
Ojulari, who has recorded a sack in each of his first three career games, can join SANTANA DOTSON (1992) and TERRELL SUGGS (2003) as the only rookies since 1982 to record a sack in each of their first four career games.