Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski make history vs. Cowboys

Written By Edward Sutelan
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The pass. The spike. The celebration.

The Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski connection has haunted NFL defenses since the pairing first played together in 2010. And 11 years since Gronk debuted in the NFL, it's still one of the league's best combinations.

In the Buccaneers' 31-29 win against the Cowboys to open the 2021 NFL season on Thursday, Brady hit Gronkowski for two touchdowns on eight passes and 90 yards, moving the duo past the combo of Steve Young and Jerry Rice (85) for the third-most regular season touchdown connections at 86, according to Stathead. Only Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison (112) and Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates (89) have more in the regular season. Including the postseason, Brady to Gronk is second with 100, while Manning to Harrison is first with 114.

Following the game, Gronkowski said that Brady's touchdown pass in the third quarter that increased Tampa Bay's lead to 28-19 was on an audible, with Brady telling his tight end to block and release based on the defense he saw, according to ProFootballTalk.

“Tom made a great call,” Gronkowski said. “I was actually on a route, and then he checked me into blocking, and then he checked me into blocking and releasing. He just sees it all on the field. It’s impressive. I mean the guy’s been playing for like 80 years, seen every defense, seen every play." Gronkowski caught all eight targets thrown his way against the Cowboys.

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As has seemingly become routine at this point, Brady started off another NFL season by lighting up a defense in Week 1. He finished the game having completed 32-of-50 passes for 379 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions — one of which came on a Hail Mary to end the first half. He capped off his night by leading the team on yet another game-winning drive, taking his team down the field 57 yards on 11 plays in 1:22 to set up the go-ahead field goal that won the game for Tampa Bay, even if there was a bit of controversy toward the end.

Between the playoffs and regular season, no quarterback has had more game-winning drives than Brady with 63.

NFL Next Gen Stats

In a career consistently filled with making history, Brady continued to set marks on Thursday. He passed Drew Brees for touchdowns thrown in Week 1 with his 43rd passing TD, moving past Brees at 41, according to Stathead. His 15 wins also are the most all-time among quarterbacks in Week 1 and his 5,311 passing yards now trail only Brees at 5,566.

This was also Brady's ninth season-opener with at least three passing touchdowns and his third with four.

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