Tampa Bay clinched their first playoff berth since 2007 in dominating fashion on Saturday, handling the Detroit Lions with ease on their way to a 47-7 victory.
Carrying a 34-0 lead into the locker room for halftime, Tom Brady would play just two quarters as backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert took over under center for the entirety of the second half. Despite playing in just the first half, Brady finished the contest with 22 completions on 27 attempts for 348 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. On the Bucs’ first drive of the game, Brady found Rob Gronkowski for his first of two receiving touchdowns of the day and Tampa Bay wouldn’t look back. On the next drive Brady would move down the field on a 47-yard reception to Chris Godwin before throwing a strike to Mike Evans for a 27-yard touchdown. Leonard Fournette would find paydirt on a four-yard carry in the second quarter and Brady would add two more touchdown passes to Godwin and Antonio Brown before the end of the half. In the second half Tampa Bay would extend their lead with two touchdown passes from Gabbert, delivering both Evans and Gronkowski their second touchdowns of the contest as the Bucs’ lone points allowed would come on a punt returned for a touchdown from Detroit’s Jamal Agnew.
While Tampa Bay locked up their first playoff appearance in 13 seasons on Saturday, they also saw a number of franchise records fall. Brady entered the day with 32 passing touchdowns on the season, just one shy of the Bucs’ single-season record set by Jameis Winston in 2019. With four on the day, Brady eclipsed Winston’s mark of 33 last season and currently sits at 36 passing touchdowns with one game remaining against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 17. In addition to Brady’s record, Evans’ two receiving touchdowns tied and eventually broke his own single-season receiving touchdown record that he set in 2014 and then matched in 2016. With 13 total non-passing touchdowns on the year, Evans also tied that franchise record that was set by running back James Wilder in 1984.
Entering the day with 779 receiving yards in 2020, Evans would need 221 yards in the Bucs’ last two games of the season to set an NFL record with 1,000 receiving yards in seven consecutive seasons to start a career, previously sharing the record of six such seasons with Randy Moss. Evans finished the game with 181 receiving yards on 10 receptions and will need just 40 yards against Atlanta in the Bucs’ season finale to hit the 1,000-yard mark.
The win on Saturday puts Tampa Bay at 10-5 on the season and, for the time being, pushes the Bucs ahead the Los Angeles Rams for the fifth seed in the NFC playoff picture.