The Buccaneers won the toss to begin the game with a call of heads and elected to defer. It was the first time all year the Bucs' defense would start with the ball and the home crowd at Gillette Stadium would have to wait to see Tom Brady take the field.
The defense set the tone forcing a three-and-out on the first drive. It was then that Brady and the Bucs' offense trotted onto the field to the resounding boos from the crowd. When Brady had initially taken the field in pregame, he was met with resounding cheers so it wasn't all bad from New England fans.
The Bucs' offense managed one first down on the drive but ultimately stalled and punted right back. Rookie Mac Jones and the New England offense would make it three straight punts to begin this highly anticipated matchup. The Bucs' defense almost had their first takeaway of the night as it looked like outside linebacker Shaq Barrett had forced a fumble that inside linebacker Devin White recovered, though the ruling was reversed and ruled an incomplete pass. It didn't end up mattering as the ball was handed back to Brady and the Bucs' offense.
This time, Tampa Bay would come away with points – though it wasn't as many as the Bucs likely wanted. They settled for a 29-yard field goal by Ryan Succop to make the score 3-0 with 4:49 left in the first quarter.
The momentum seemed entirely in the Bucs' favor as quarterback Mac Jones was picked off by Bucs' safety Antoine Winfield Jr. thanks to cornerback Ross Cockrell getting the tip. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay wouldn't capitalize, settling for another field goal attempt, this time from 36 yards that sailed wide right.
View photos of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Week four matchup against the New England Patriots.
This time, the Patriots took control and the lead, spanning the field thanks to a couple defensive pass interference penalties committed by the Bucs that would land them in the end zone for the first time. Jones hit tight end Hunter Henry for an 11-yard touchdown that put New England up 7-3 with 8:28 left in the second quarter.
The two teams then traded punts back and forth and with the ball back in the hands of Brady, he drove down the field with under two minutes to play and managed to get far enough thanks to back-to-back long passes to wide receiver Chris Godwin to allow Succop to attempt a 44-yard field goal. This one would go through and the Bucs cut the lead to 7-6 with 13 seconds to go. The Patriots ran one play before heading into the locker room at the half, holding onto a one-point lead.
The opening drive of the second half didn't go any better for the Bucs offense as a penalty negated a huge gain into Patriots' territory on third down. Instead of a 44-yard gain on the pass from Brady to wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Bucs were backed into third and 15 at their own nine. They'd end up punting and after a short punt and an 11-yard return, the Pats would start their first drive of the second half at the Buccaneer 34.
The drive was cut short, however, thanks again to safety Antoine Winfield Jr. He forced a fumble from the hands of J.J. Taylor, which was then recovered by cornerback Richard Sherman with 11:19 to go in the third quarter.
Tampa Bay unfortunately wouldn't capitalize and ended up punting the ball back to the Patriots after just a minute and a half of clock elapsed.
New England wouldn't get far thanks to back-to-back sacks by the Bucs' defense. First, it was defensive tackle Will Gholston with his second sack of the season followed by outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka with his second sack of the night. It forced the Patriots' punt… twice.
The first punt was fumbled on the return but the Bucs got bailed out with a penalty on the Patriots. Refs ruled a replay of fourth down and the Patriots punted again. This time, it would be returned to nearly midfield as the Bucs set off to put more points on the board.
And that they did. Brady kept the ball mostly on the ground and the 52-yard drive ended in an eight-yard touchdown run by running back Ronald Jones that made the score 13-7 with 3:29 to go in the third quarter.
Unfortunately, the Patriots answered on their next drive as Jones drove down the field. It ended in a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jonnu Smith to put New England back on top, 14-13, with 14:57 left to go in the fourth quarter.
The Bucs ate up some clock on the next drive that would span 15 plays but in the end, they'd end up settling for the 26-yard field goal. It was enough to give them the lead back, though, making the score 16-14 with 7:58 left in the game.
New England answered with a field goal of their own to again take a one-point lead. The 27-yard kick made the score 17-16 with 4:34 left to play.
And after a hard-fought drive that took the game to the two-minute warning, the Bucs would answer with a kick of their own. Succop was good from 48 yards to give the Bucs a 19-17 lead with 1:57 to play and the Patriots with just one of their timeouts left.
The defense held up, forcing the Patriots to attempt a 56-yard field goal in the rain. It was no good from Folk and it preserved the 19-17 lead and victory for the Buccaneers in Tom Brady's return.