Rob Issa, FISM News
Tom Brady did it again.
The 45-year-old, seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback threw a pair of touchdowns in the final three minutes of Monday night’s game to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 17-16 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
After being held to just a field goal on the opening drive, Tampa’s offense got going late in the fourth quarter. Brady tossed a 1-yard TD pass to rookie tight end Cade Otton to pull the Buccaneers within six points.
Tampa’s defense then forced the Saints to punt and Brady engineered a 63-yard drive, connecting with rookie running back Rachaad White on a 6-yard TD with only three seconds remaining in the game.
With the game on the line, it was the 🐐's time to shine #NOvsTB pic.twitter.com/FNJgzyw8lP
— NFL (@NFL) December 6, 2022
“Just like we drew it up,” Brady said. “It was great – great route by Rachaad, great catch. (Offensive coordinator) Byron (Leftwich) made a great call.”
The TD pass to White came after another one to Chris Godwin was negated by a holding call on Donovan Smith. Brady maintained his composure and the offense regrouped after being pushed back 10 yards and got the winning score two plays later.
“We thought we threw a touchdown. I didn’t see the one we hit to Chris,” Brady said. “I thought I threw it in about a quarter of a second. I was like ‘how is there a hold? I caught it and I threw it.’ That put us back on the 15, and then (we) still found a way, so it was a great team win.”
The Buccaneers improved to 6-6, which leads the NFC South.
It’s been a difficult season for a team that won the Super Bowl in 2020 and went 14-5 last season, including playoffs. Injuries along the offensive line and the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski and Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet left the Bucs undermanned. They’ve dealt with several key injuries during the season also. Plus, the transition from coach Bruce Arians to Todd Bowles hasn’t gone smoothly.
Bowles has been far more conservative in his coaching than Arians. He’s misused timeouts and hasn’t put Brady in the best position to succeed. Leftwich’s playcalling has been predictable and lacks creativity. Yet, Brady bailed them out for the second time in four games with a last-minute TD drive.
“Great job, great execution,” Bowles said. “It seems like we can only score at the last part of the ballgame. We sputtered around a couple quarters, but the leadership that Tom showed, the receivers did a great job, every one of them, running backs – Rachaad and Lenny (Fournette) – the O-line got the job done and Cade played well. They did good in the last part of the game.
“It was just spreading the ball around. Tom did a great job seeing where they were doubling and going to the open guy, and everybody was executing well putting the ball back down, getting lined up, executing, getting out of bounds, and understanding what we needed to do.”
Brady’s latest performance was his 44th career comeback win in the fourth quarter, surpassing Hall of Famer Peyton Manning for first place on the NFL’s all-time list.
It also was Brady’s 56th career game-winning drive and his 40th career comeback win when trailing by 10 points or more, both of which are the most in NFL history. The 13-point deficit marked the largest regular season fourth-quarter comeback of Brady’s career. He led the New England Patriots to a comeback win in the Super Bowl in 2017 after trailing 28-3 in the second half and 28-9 entering the fourth quarter.
With 8 seconds on the clock when the ball was snapped, Tom Brady threw the latest game-winning touchdown pass of his career.
It marks the largest regular-season 4th quarter comeback of Brady's career. pic.twitter.com/fAcDA6tORQ
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 6, 2022
“He gets better in those moments, like it’s crazy,” wide receiver Mike Evans said. “Usually, before he got here, we were on the other side of those – teams coming back on us. Now, with him, we’ve been on the good side of those more often than not, so it’s great to have a guy like Tom.”