Landover, Maryland – new team, same playoff success for Tom Brady.
Brady threw 381 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after Washington, 31-23, in an NFC Wildcard match Saturday night to claim their first playoff victory since the 2002 season.
“If I could win 100-0, it would be the same in the end,” Brady said. “It’s good to win and run.”
In his forty-second post-season start, and initially not in the uniform of the New England Patriots, Brady took advantage of a lack of pressure to split the NFL defense in second place in 22 of 40 assists.
“He’s a fighter, he plays hard, works hard and studies hard, and he’s the right guy for the job,” said pirate back-turning Leonard Fornett.
Brady had to outpace Washington’s Taylor Heinek, who put on an outstanding performance in his only second and first professional debut in the qualifiers, instead of injured star Alex Smith. Heinicke – signed in early December for the coaching team – ran 46 yards and landed and throws 306 yards and a point.
“He almost hit us in the legs,” said Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians. “It was too far fetched.” We knew he was going to scramble, there would be players who were not related. We really hoped for Alex because we knew that part of the match wouldn’t be there. “
But Heinicke wasn’t enough to beat Brady’s brilliance. As Bill Belischik and the Patriots watch from home with the playoff streak interrupted in 11 after the 7-9 season, Brady has a chance to play in another Super Bowl – at his new home stadium.
Pirates await the Chicago Score in New Orleans on Sunday to see if they’ll visit Drew Breeze and the Saints or host the Los Angeles Rams next weekend. They will need upset bears to play on their home turf in the Division Round.
“It doesn’t matter,” Arian said. “They were playing. That’s all that matters.”
Age doesn’t seem to matter much to Brady, who at 43, 159 days passed George Blanda as the oldest player to throw a TD pass in a playoff. The 36-yard call with Antonio Brown was the longest-running Brady in the qualifiers since 2011.
Brady was methodical in the first half with 12 completions at 209 yards and was not dismissed until the last minute of the second quarter.
Heinicke made things interesting in the third stage, most notably the scramble to get 8 yards by diving into the pylon in the corner of the end zone. The play even caught the attention of Super Bowl champ Patrick Mahomes, who tweeted, “Bro what!?!?!”
Chain After Heinicke hit his left shoulder, Brady engineered a scoring engine from 69 yards capping Fournette’s 3-yard TD. This made her 28-16, which was enough to withstand Heinicke’s bid to be the unlikely champ.
“We’re thrilled to win,” said Camerton Pratt, one of the pirate recipients. “I hate to say we’re comfortable, but at this point, we’ve just pumped out that we’ve won. No matter how ugly it is, no matter how many mistakes we make, winning is a win at this time of year.”