It was one thing when Tom Brady led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl two years ago. After being cast aside in New England, Brady was expected to light it up in Tampa Bay with a dream team around him. The Buccaneers were flush with offensive skill players and boasted a hard-hitting defense.
Brady was their missing ingredient.
The Patriots, meanwhile, limped through a weird transition year with Cam Newton under center. The gap between the Patriots and Buccaneers was immense, but Tampa Bay’s time appeared to be limited. With Mac Jones, the Patriots finally seemed ready to enter a new era of winning.
Instead, they remain mired in mediocrity. The 2022 Patriots aren’t any better than the 2020 version, and might even be tougher to watch.
Three years following Brady’s departure, the Patriots still haven’t closed that gap. The Buccaneers are far from dominant, but they’re better than New England.
Once again, it looks like Patriots fans will look towards Brady this January to provide some entertainment. The longer this lasts, the worse Bill Belichick looks.
The Buccaneers outlasted the Saints 17-16 on “Monday Night Football,” thanks to an epic fourth quarter comeback from Brady. It was the 44th of his career — an NFL record.
Tampa Bay looked lifeless for 55 minutes Monday night in what’s been the most difficult season of Brady’s career. His marriage fell apart in very public fashion and the Bucs seemingly can’t corral any momentum. They horribly mismanaged their timeouts last week against the lowly Browns, once again dipping below .500.
But at 45 years old, Brady is still capable of rescuing his teammates and coaches. The Buccaneers were plodding along during their second-to-last drive, when Brady chucked the ball downfield for Mike Evans. While the pass feel incomplete, Saints cornerback Paulson Adebo was flagged for pass interference, giving the Bucs the ball on the 1-yard line.
Brady connected with little-known tight end Cade Otton for a touchdown on the next play.
The series was quite a contrast from how the Patriots attempted to battle back against the Bills Thursday night with punts, check downs and screen passes. The Patriots are incapable of stretching the field in any fashion.
Brady is still a threat.
The Bucs scored the game-winner on their next possession, an 11-play drive that featured Brady finding the end zone twice. Chris Godwin’s touchdown was nullified due to holding, putting the Bucs back to 1st-and-15 with 16 seconds to go.
It was no problem. Brady never lost control of the game, even forcing the Saints, who were still leading, to call their second timeout without 11 seconds to regroup. Rookie running back Rachaad White hauled in the game-winning grab.
The Patriots would be better if Brady were still here, despite his chaotic and uneven season. In fact, there’s already speculation he could return to Foxborough next season and save Belichick from another plodding campaign.
Each one of Brady’s fourth quarter comebacks only adds to the palace intrigue. Three years in, the Patriots still haven’t moved on. They are no longer delivering in primetime.
Instead, they’re getting flexed out. Ouch.