In the NFL's 2012 kickoff game one week ago, tight end Martellus Bennett had four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown in his first regular-season game with the New York Giants, albeit in a losing cause against his former team, the Dallas Cowboys. Four days later,
Statistically, you can call Week One of the season a wash between the Bennett brothers, but the two will get a chance to renew a lifetime of friendly competition this coming Sunday when Michael's Bucs head to the Meadowlands to take on Martellus' Giants.
In the long run, the game could have some bearing in the NFC playoff race, but the consequences of Sunday's outcome will be felt even beyond this year's Super Bowl. Martellus wants to help the defending NFL champs avoid an 0-2 start and Michael wants to help the Bucs stay undefeated, but neither brother wants to foot the ball for some upcoming joint travels in the offseason.
"If we win, he's taking me and my family on vacation," said Bennett, relaying the terms of the latest brotherly wager. "If they win, I'm going to take them on a vacation."
This isn't the first time a pair of brothers have squared off in a Bucs-Giants game, though the Bennett NFL family doesn't yet have as high of a profile as the Barber twins. This also isn't the first time Michael and Martellus have competed on an NFL field; last December the Cowboys visited Tampa for a Saturday night game on December 17. Michael may have had the more impressive stat line – three tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss and a quarterback hit versus three catches for 23 yards for Martellus – but the Cowboys took home the victory.
Michael, who talks to his brother every day and has already discussed each team's opener at length with him, thinks the Buccaneers will have their hands full again against a Giants team with an extra dose of motivation.
"It's probably frustrating to be the defending champions and to lose," said the Bucs' Bennett. "They want to come back and play strong like any other team would. Any time you lose, you have to get focused on the next game. It should be a hard-fought game. [Martellus] had a big game last week. He's very focused on the season. It should be a good game."
Michael said Martellus got some early scouting work in by watching Tampa Bay's season opener, since the Giants had some extra time after playing on Wednesday. The Giants tight end came away impressed with his brother's team.
"Last week he watched our game and gave me pointers before we played," said Michael. "He complimented our defense. He said our defensive line played very well and our whole defense did very well. He thought the D-tackles, Roy [Miller] and Gerald [McCoy], played very well, and of course the ends did too."