Rob Issa, FISM News
Tom Brady waved his cap to the crowd as he jogged off the field for perhaps the final time in his unprecedented career, stopped to kiss his parents, and left behind uncertainty about his future.
The 45-year-old Brady, widely considered the greatest quarterback of all time, had one of his worst playoff games in Tampa Bay’s 31-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
The Cowboys advanced to play the San Francisco 49ers, while the Buccaneers start an offseason filled with major question marks.
“It’s just been one day at a time, truly,” Brady said about the process of deciding his future.
WILL HE RETIRE AGAIN?
Brady retired last year only to return 40 days later to play his third season in Tampa following 20 with the New England Patriots. The seven-time Super Bowl champion is set to become a free agent and there’s speculation he may want to play for a different team in 2023.
“Hopefully, you know, I love this organization, it’s a great place to be,” Brady said. “Thank you everybody for welcoming me — all you regulars — and just very grateful for the respect and hope I gave the same thing back to guys, so thank you very much. Appreciate it.”
The Cowboys dominated the Buccaneers to win their first road playoff game since 1993. Dak Prescott threw four touchdown passes and ran for a score.
One, two, three, four, FIVE TOTAL TOUCHDOWNS FOR DAK 🔥
— ESPN (@espn) January 17, 2023
Micah Parsons had a sack and pressured Brady throughout the game. Parsons, a two-time All-Pro in his first two NFL seasons, was a game-wrecker. He had three tackles for a loss and nine pressures with one sack. The Buccaneers couldn’t figure out a way to slow him down and Brady spent the night rushing passes to avoid taking hits.
Cowboys LB Micah Parsons predicted his best football would come in playoffs. He backed that up Monday. Relentless pressure from varied alignments. Multiple batted passes. Drew attention to free up teammate on sack before one for himself. A dominant night. https://t.co/sT7QjbeSpS pic.twitter.com/zTW0jNGcJQ
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) January 17, 2023
Brady threw 66 passes, a career-high. He completed 35 of them for 351 yards and two TDs with the one pick.
“Everybody kind of knows you have to get to the quarterback someway, somehow,” Parsons said. “My job had to go to the extra step, and going back-and-forth, blitzing on the ball, off the ball, giving him different looks. Understanding that they were sliding and chipping, trying to create short edges. We got creative today.”
Prescott struggled down the stretch of the regular season. He threw three interceptions that were returned for TDs in the previous four games.
“I prepared well, I knew obviously watching tape, that this team would be able to create matchups and what we were going to be able to do,” Prescott said.
Preparation, just knowing what this group is capable of doing, not getting frustrated with them and I can’t say that I didn’t do that last week. There was a little bit of frustration, but this week knowing that I couldn’t allow that to get in my head. I couldn’t allow me to change the way that I played this game. I obviously credit the defense, as I said, getting us the ball right back out of those first two possessions. I told the offense in the huddle, ‘Hey if we get one first down, this thing is going to roll.’ And that’s exactly what happened. So yeah, we just have to continue to do that.
Dallas kicker Brett Maher missed his first four extra points, becoming the first player to miss more than three in one game in league history. But Maher made his last try and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the team won’t bring in another kicker.
“I was worried about what those extra points might do toward winning this game,” Jones said. “When I got by that, then I’m not going to worry about it anymore. He’s done enough good ones. I don’t think he’s blown the socket or whatever you do.”
While the Cowboys move forward, the Buccaneers ponder what’s next.
If Brady comes back after leading them to a Super Bowl title and two NFC South championships in three seasons, they’ll be a contender. If not, they’ll have to rebuild the roster.
“We fell short two years in a row,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. “You like the courage, you like the fight, but we’ve got to get better in a lot of areas, and we’ll get to work on it.”