TAMPA, Fla. — It’s not often you hear Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady put any one game ahead of the others.
“We’re in a decent position at 9-3 and going home now for the biggest game of the year against the Bills,” Brady said after the Bucs’ win Sunday in Atlanta.
The match-up with the Buffalo Bills (7-5) has the buzz of a potential Super Bowl meeting. It’s also a chance for Tampa Bay to clinch the NFC South division with a win, and some help, for the first time since 2007.
“Tickets are expensive, I feel like that’s a good indicator, too,” Tampa Bay offensive lineman Ali Marpret said. “That’s a benchmark. I notice that, too.”
“They were a few plays away last year, we could’ve played them in the Super Bowl last year,” Bucs’ wide receiver Mike Evans said. “They are a really good team coming off a tough loss. We’re expecting their best. We look forward to putting on our best showing.”
Bills fans likely cringe when they see Tom Brady facing their team. After all, Brady is 32-3 in his career against Buffalo. But there is one Bucs’ player that Bills fan actually don’t hate. That’s Rob Gronkowski, who grew up in Buffalo.
“The Bills do mean a lot to my family and I. We grew up in Buffalo, 25 minutes from the stadium. I was a big Bills fan growing up,” Gronkowski said. “Takeo Spikes, Eric Moulds, the Jim Kelly era. Whenever I was in the back yard playing football with my friends, my brothers and I, you line up out wide you’re pretending you’re the receiver they had. Moulds was my favorite player. If you make a stop or big hit you’re acting like Takeo Spikes. The history of the Buffalo Bills goes way back for my family and I from playing in the back yard to watching the games.”
Those fondest of childhood memories are soon forgotten when the game kicks off.
“I do feel that intensity more, for sure. We have a playoff team coming into our house,” Gronkowski said. “There is going to be a lot of pressure. But, they are a good team, they got a winning record. They have a lot of playmakers, a lot of good players on defense. It’s going to be another playoff atmosphere.”
The game kicks off at 4:25 p.m. on Sunday.