The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs.
Table of Contents
This week’s topic: Brady’s Best Game With The Bucs In 2020
Scott Reynolds: Brady’s Comeback Win vs. Chargers
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady had a handful of truly masterful performances during the 2020 regular season – and of course, the postseason. But which one was his best? Which one really stood out to me? It would have to be Brady’s first dominant game under center in Tampa Bay, which came in Week 4 in a thrilling, come-from-behind, 38-31 victory at home over the Los Angeles Chargers. Brady started off a bit shaky, throwing a pick-six – his second in four games – that helped the Chargers race out to a 17-point lead in the first half.
But then Brady showed the resolve and focus that made him the greatest quarterback of all-time during his 20 years in New England. He wound up completing 30-of-46 passes (61 percent) for 369 yards with a season-high five touchdowns to help lead the Bucs’ comeback. He connected on scoring strikes with Cameron Brate, Mike Evans, Scotty Miller, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and O.J. Howard before the tight end suffered a torn Achilles that would cost him the rest of the season. Brady would be named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his Week 4 brilliance.
The win over the Chargers set the Bucs up with a promising 3-1 beginning of what turned into a Super Bowl season instead of a more modest 2-2 start. The fact that Brady’s steady hand led the Bucs to a comeback win after trailing by 17 points helped the Tampa Bay players believe in him and gain confidence that they would never be out of any game as long as TB12 was at the helm. The Bucs would trail Atlanta by 17 points at halftime later in the season in Week 15, but wouldn’t flinch because of the groundwork Brady and the offense laid in that riveting Week 4 win.
Mark Cook: Second Half Turnaround In Atlanta
The Bucs were reeling. They were coming off a much needed bye-week after losing three of their previous four games and were sitting at 7-5 when they traveled to face a dangerous Falcons team loaded with offensive weapons on the road. A loss to Atlanta and who knows if Tampa Bay even makes the playoffs – much less wins a Super Bowl.
Things didn’t start well for Tampa Bay as the Falcons jumped out early marching down the field and scoring on three first half possessions to take a 17-0 lead into halftime. The Bucs offense was sputtering gaining just 60 total yards on 24 first half plays. But something happening at halftime. Whether it was the coaching staff who got more aggressive in their play-calling, or the players who were just plain embarrassed, when the third quarter began it was a different offense and a different Tom Brady.
On their first drive, Brady’s first pass went for 20 yards, he followed it up with a 14-yard pass to Cam Brate and a 32-yard completion to Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette capped off the 7-play, 80 yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run and the Bucs were back in business. Brady and the offense dominated the final two quarters, scoring 31 points on their way to their eighth win of the year and the team never lost again. Brady finished that game going 31-of-45 passing for 390 yards and two scores and ended the day with a 110.4 QB rating.
Jon Ledyard: Brady Carried Bucs To First Playoff Victory In 18 Years
Not many figured the Bucs would be Super Bowl champions when the 2021 playoffs began, but most figured they’d at least find a way to beat 7-9 Washington in the Wild Card round for the team’s first playoff win in 18 years. But that result looked in doubt late in the fourth quarter, as Washington cut the Bucs lead to 28-23 with just under five minutes left in the contest.
It was no fault of Brady’s that the Bucs were in that predicament however, as he had carved up an excellent Washington defense that had dominated almost every opponent since before midseason. Despite five uncharacteristic drops from Chris Godwin, including a touchdown on a drive that Tampa Bay was forced to settle for a field goal, a key fumble just outside of field goal range by Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the second half presence of backup guard Ted Larsen, who allowed two sacks, and a defense that was being carved up by the unknown Taylor Heinicke, Brady was nearly flawless, throwing for 381 yards and two touchdowns.
Up just 28-23 with a little over four minutes left in the game, Brady made the “stones” throw of the game, ripping a deep shot to Mike Evans for 35 yards while getting hit as he threw, all after fielding a low snap from Ryan Jensen. The 2nd-and-8 conversion set the Bucs up at the Washington 40, and they eventually kicked a field goal to go up eight while running the clock under three minutes. Without Brady, I don’t think the Bucs can win what was at that point the most important game in franchise history since the 2003 Super Bowl. Critical performance on the biggest stage to give Tampa Bay the confidence they needed to make a run through the playoffs.
Matt Matera: Brady’s Five Touchdown Game At Vegas
Though it was earlier in the season and before the Bucs went on their eight game win streak that eventually led to a Super Bowl LV championship, Tom Brady’s performance in Tampa Bay’s 45-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 7 proved how dominant the Bucs’ offense could be if they’re consistent for a full 60 minutes. Brady was responsible for five touchdowns – throwing for four and rushing for one – which tied for the most amount of scores he had in a game this season.
It wasn’t just the amount of touchdowns that Brady threw for, it was how it was all executed. This seemed like the first time we were seeing the combination of Brady’s offensive play and Bruce Arians’ offensive game plan gel together for top level results. The Bucs defense had just one takeaway in the game, so the offense was formulating their own drives down the field. Brady had some absolute dimes for his touchdown throws, particularly to Rob Gronkowksi and a fantastic 33-yard deep to Scotty Miller for the score with 17 seconds left in the half. Who would have thought this would be foreshadowing another thrilling late quarter touchdown between the two later on in the NFC Championship?
Brady was methodical all game, completing 33-of-45 passes for 369 yards. His completion percentage of 73.3 and quarterback rating of 127 were both second best for him on the year, and it could have been even better if it wasn’t for dropped passes and some forced throwaways. Brady was able to get everyone involved as well by completing passes to nine different receivers in the game. The fact that Miller was the leading receiver and Tyler Johnson was one of the touchdown recipients shows that he’d trust anyone that was out there.
Taylor Jenkins: Brady’s Dominant Half In Detroit
When talking about Tom Brady’s most dominant game of the year, it’s hard to look any further than his game against Detroit. Well, I say his game against Detroit, but he didn’t even have to play a full four quarters to display arguably his most impressive outing of the year.
In Week 15 the Bucs got out to an extremely slow start against the Atlanta Falcons, trailing 17-0 at halftime, before Brady went on an absolutely absurd four-quarter stretch. In the second half, Brady threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 31-27 victory and the second-largest comeback in franchise history. Then the Bucs moved onto the Lions. At the end of the first quarter the game was still within reach as two touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski and Mike Evans had given the Bucs a 13-7 lead, but by halftime Tampa Bay had taken a commanding handle on the game. Brady finished the contest with 22 completions on 27 attempts for 348 passing yards, four passing touchdowns and a perfect 158.3 rating but what makes this performance so incredibly impressive is that he did not even take a snap in the second half, passing the torch to backup Blaine Gabbert for the final two quarters of the Bucs’ eventual 47-7 victory.
The Bucs’ match-up against Detroit was Brady’s highest completion percentage of the season, his fifth-most passing yards of the season and tied his second-most passing touchdowns of the season – trailing only a five-touchdown performance against the Chargers in Week 4 – and he did it all within the span of one half of football. So I think that when you look back on Brady’s best game of the 2020 season, it has to be the victory that the veteran signal-caller had signed, sealed and delivered before heading to the locker room for halftime.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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