By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady really wanted to be teammates with Antonio Brown again. Their reunion in Tampa was not particularly sweet.
The wide receiver made his return to the NFL on Sunday night for the Buccaneers, his first NFL game since Sept. 15 of last year. Having served his eight-game suspension for multiple violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Brown was active for his first game of eligibility in 2020.
The Bucs would lose, 38-3. The connection between Brady and Brown was a complete non-factor.
Brady first targeted Brown late in the first quarter on a deep ball, but the ball was underthrown, forcing Brown to turn into a defensive back to break up a potential interception by Janoris Jenkins.
Brady’s second look to Brown was a success, as the receiver ran in pre-snap motion from right to left on a third-and-3 before running an out route and making a 6-yard gain to move the chains.
The two connected a second time late in the second quarter, this time for 10 yards. But two plays after that completion, Brown did not run the route which Brady expected him to run, leading to Brady throwing his second interception of the night.
Brady did go back to Brown late in the third quarter, with the receiver showing that despite not playing regularly since the end of the 2018 season, he’s still got some world-class hands:
That catch went for 15 yards. Brown decided to celebrate the occasion.
Bucs are losing 31-0.
About 4:15 to play in the third quarter.
Antonio Brown: pic.twitter.com/R9ReGRvI6S
— Randy Scott (@RandyScottESPN) November 9, 2020
That drive ended with an interception — Brady’s third of the night — essentially ending a game that really had been over since the middle of the second quarter.
Brown ended up with with three receptions (on five targets) for 31 yards, with one of those missed targets resulting in a pick. It wasn’t quite the spark that Brady and Brown showed in their brief work together last year, when they connected four times for 56 yards and a touchdown in their lone Patriots game together.
Given the blowout nature of the game, Brown’s performance wouldn’t have stood out one way or another. Yet the Buccaneers likely didn’t expect to have their worst offensive game of the year after bringing Brown aboard, so the attention is sure to increase going into next week, when the Buccaneers visit the Panthers.