By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- There are very few guarantees in life, and even fewer in sports. The future can rarely, if ever, be known with full certainty.
Yet, when looking ahead to next weekend's Buccaneers-Patriots game, it feels very safe to say that Tom Brady will be setting the NFL's all-time passing yards record early on in his first career game as a visitor in New England.
That seems to be a safe bet after Brady threw for 432 yards in a losing effort against the Rams on Sunday. Brady entered this week just 499 yards behind Drew Brees for the all-time regular-season passing yards record of 80,358, so Sunday's performance puts Brady just 68 yards away from setting a new NFL record.
(Brady's touchdown pass on Sunday was the 591st of his career, making him 20 touchdowns clear of Brees for most all time in that category. Brady, as you'd expect, is the all-time leader in postseason passing yards and touchdowns, and has been for quite some time.)
Brady could rack up 68 yards on his opening drive vs. the Patriots, but he should have the record by halftime at the absolute latest.
It will be very interesting to see how the Patriots treat the occurrence. You may recall that when Brees set the record, his game was stopped so that an official could hand him ... a laminated piece of paper. That historic moment, however, took place in a home game for Brees. When Peyton Manning passed Brett Favre to set the record in 2015, his game stopped as well. That, too, was a home game for Manning (who ended up getting benched in that game after throwing four touchdowns).
Again, nothing is ever a guarantee. But consider this: Brady has made 302 regular-season starts. He's thrown for at least 68 yards in all but one of them.
That lone start with the low passing yardage total barely counts, too. He was 3-for-8 for 37 yards with one touchdown and one interception in Week 17 of the 2005 season. Brady left that game after the first quarter, giving way to Matt Cassel in a game the Patriots may have lost on purpose to get a more favorable matchup in the wild card round of the playoffs. (You may remember it as the Doug Flutie drop kick game.)
Even in Week 1 in 2008, when Brady suffered a season-ending injury on the second series of the game, the quarterback amassed 76 passing yards before departing.
So in every game that he's started and played more than one quarter, he's managed to throw for at least 68 yards. If you add in his 45 playoff starts, he's 346-for-347 at throwing for at least 68 passing yards in his starts.
Seems like he'll probably get this thing done.
After Sunday's loss to the Rams, Brady was asked about his approach to the week that lies ahead of him.
"It's a tough loss for us, so I'll just get through the plane and evaluate kind of what we need to do to put ourselves in a better position to win from a quarterback standpoint," he said. "So, I want to win every time I take the field."
Anything can happen next week -- injury, inaccuracy, a bad bounce, a tornado, a sudden NFL rule change that bans the forward pass -- so the record isn't yet Brady's. But barring an absolute abnormality for the most consistent performer in NFL history, Brady will be adding yet another significant NFL record to his long list of accomplishments, and he'll be doing it in the place he called home for 20 years.
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