Tom Brady, the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, triumphantly raised his fist in the air as he left Raymond James Stadium on Sunday night after defeating the Los Angeles Rams 16-13. The Rams had previously denied Brady’s bid for an eighth Super Bowl on this very field last season in the divisional round of the playoffs and had also been a major factor in getting him to come out of retirement.
Brady was sobbing almost uncontrollably ten days ago in the Bucs’ locker room after they lost to the Baltimore Ravens 27-22 in prime time. After 13 years of marriage, he and his wife Gisele Bundchen finalised their divorce the following day. Brady, however, was able to regain some of the magic that has come to characterise his extraordinary 23-year career on Sunday. More importantly, he was able to experience joy once more. Both his teammates and coaches agreed.
Brady, a former Buccaneer who had failed to defeat the Rams in his previous three attempts, stated, “That was fantastic.” That was just fantastic.
Brady made NFL history by becoming the first quarterback to surpass 100,000 career throwing yards in both the regular season and postseason with his 15-yard ball to running back Leonard Fournette in the second quarter. However, Brady’s play against the Super Bowl champs with 44 seconds left against him demonstrated why, at the age of 45, he still defies logic and age, and it also enabled a struggling club to end a three-game losing streak.
Win is everything, said Brady. “Man, it’s all about the win. The [records] have never interested me. Win is everything.”
The Buccaneers’ defence stopped the Rams from going three-and-out, giving Brady the ball back at the Tampa Bay 40. Tampa Bay’s offence had been unsuccessful all night in finding the end zone, including three consecutive incomplete passes inside the Los Angeles 6-yard line on the previous drive. He then made four consecutive completions (on his fifth, Mike Evans drew a defensive pass interference flag on Derion Kendrick), before connecting with rookie tight end Cade Otton for a 1-yard score as he broke out of a bunch formation and into the flat.
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Brady, though, has had trouble finding the end zone throughout the whole season, and without a number of crucial members of their defence in recent weeks, they were unable to take up the slack. Akiem Hicks’ return to health on Sunday allowed defensive lineman Vita Vea to sack Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford twice, with additional sacks coming from Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Genard Avery.
Cooper Kupp still had 127 receiving yards when cornerbacks Carlton Davis III and Sean Murphy-Bunting returned to the field and failed to cover him for a 69-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Despite this, Kupp’s damage was lessened. Up until the defence handed the ball back to Brady for one more attempt, the Bucs were in the lead against the Rams.
Not just Brady chose to ignore his own suffering in order to play. In Tumwater, Washington, last weekend, Otton and his family conducted a memorial service for his mother Sally, who passed away from Parkinson’s disease on September 20.
In the south end zone corner where Otton scored, Brady, Otton, and a number of other teammates quickly hugged. Brady had never thrown a touchdown ball to a tight end all season as he struggled to adjust to life without his best target and close buddy Rob Gronkowski, who retired for the second time this offseason.
Evans praised Otton, who had five catches on six targets for 68 receiving yards, saying that “He’s a rookie, he’s a great teammate, he works his ass off.” “I’m happy he got the game winner for his first one.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are currently 4-5, are still one game below.500, but they have taken back control of the NFC South after the Atlanta Falcons’ loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Winning is the best thing in this league because it’s so hard — especially against a good team like that,” Evans said. “We’re all happy. … It was a tough three-game stretch — games that we definitely could have won and we just couldn’t get it done, for whatever the reason was. But we came back, fought hard tonight and got a much-needed win.”
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