Tom Brady will hit another milestone in the state of Michigan on Saturday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Detroit Lions.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback played the first snaps of his career at the former Pontiac Silverdome, the Lions' now-demolished home, as a rookie in relief during a Thanksgiving blowout loss back in 2000. On Saturday, Brady will play his 300th regular-season game at Detroit's Ford Field.
"Yeah, I think it's pretty cool," Brady said, via the team's official website. "I don't get caught up too much in statistics and those types of things, but football has just been a very important part of my life for a long time, 30 years. I love the ability to go out there and compete with my teammates, compete for our fans and I love the game. I love the nuances of the game, I love the relationships I've built, all the memories I've had."
The former University of Michigan quarterback will play his 300th game in the state that helped him grow into the greatest quarterback of all time.
"I learned a lot of those lessons at Michigan," he said. "Michigan was a great training ground for me because nothing was gifted. You had to go out there and earn it. You had to earn the respect of your teammates and your coaches. For me, that's what I had to do in order to play in college. I didn't expect much difference when I went to the pros and got my opportunity. I always felt like if I got my opportunity I was never going to look back. I still haven't really looked back that much, even 20-plus years later."
Assuming he finishes the season under center, Brady will end the year tied for 11th all-time in regular-season games played with kicker John Kasey, one behind Brett Favre and two games behind Jerry Rice -- the only two non-kicker-types in the top 10.
The Bucs can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the lowly Lions. 2020 would be Brady's 12th consecutive playoff appearance. His 11 straight years is already the longest-such streak by any QB in the Super Bowl era. Brady last missed playoffs in 2008 (knee injury in Week 1).
The Bucs' offense has struggled to consistently move the ball -- epitomized by last week's lethargic start before getting scorching hot in the second half -- but against the Lions last-ranked scoring defense, Brady & Co. should be able to get in a groove.
Brady has two-plus passing TDs in each of his last five games (12 pass TDs since Week 10), his longest such streak since 2015 (nine straight games). The Lions have allowed 29 pass TDs this season (T-4th-most in NFL).
For Brady, getting to 300 regular-season games is a testament to his famous longevity. The G.O.A.T. still doesn't believe he's close to being done.
"I'm very blessed to be 43 years old and still doing it," he said. "It's definitely a challenge for me still. There's physical challenges, there's mental challenges, there's emotional challenges. I just love doing it. It's pretty cool that I'm still able to do it and still have a team that's supportive of me being out there, and I want to go out there and do the best I can for them."
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions kick off from Ford Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET, airing exclusively on NFL Network.