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Tom Brady comes out dealing in NFC playoffs, gives Buccaneers his Patriots best

Tom Brady obtained his first NFL playoff win with the Buccaneers. His efficiency did not look a lot totally different from the large playoff wins he had for the Patriots.

Tampa Bay wanted each little bit of the GOAT quarterback’s greatness to outlast host Washington 31-23 in Saturday evening’s NFC wild-card playoff recreation. In an unlikely passing duel with Taylor Heinicke and dealing with a troublesome move rush, Brady had all of the solutions with each sort of throw.

A 12 months in the past, Brady struggled with a restricted Patriots offense within the AFC playoffs, with a late pick-six stamping his shaky loss to the Titans. With the Buccaneers, there have been zero questions on his arm or downfield accuracy.

Brady did not look near 43 as Heinicke, 16 years his junior, was conserving Washington within the recreation till the ultimate drive whereas enjoying for an injured Alex Smith. Brady wasn’t good as he confronted loads of strain; he took three sacks and accomplished simply 55 p.c of his move makes an attempt. However even with out finishing a move to tight finish Rob Gronkowski — who was wanted to assist out in move safety — he delivered large performs all around the subject.

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Washington did its greatest, nevertheless it could not maintain Brady (22-of-40 passing, 381 yards, two touchdowns, 8.9 yards per try, 104.3 ranking) from frequently sidestepping the rush and getting the ball downfield to his elite extensive receivers, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. With Gronkowski enjoying extra in-line, Brady merely pivoted to Cameron Brate to make chunk catches from tight finish.

That opened issues up for Leonard Fournette to steer a prolific speeding assault. There was a notion at one level Saturday that Washington’s protection was doing an awesome job. However ultimately, the Bucs racked up three touchdowns, 4 subject targets and 507 yards of offense. Brady’s evening might have been larger with out uncharacteristic drops by Godwin and others.

Brady is enjoying at a excessive degree, however he is additionally getting nice assist from the Bucs’ offensive line and the a great deal of expertise on the talent positions. After a number of hiccups throughout the common season, he is now in a whole thoughts meld with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich that is paying homage to his reference to Josh McDaniels in New England.

Heinicke was a recreation playmaker, save for one early interception and some dangerous balls. Forward are extra harmful QBs who’re contemporaries of Brady. If type holds within the NFC playoffs, then Brady would subsequent get one other shot at Drew Brees and the Saints — who swept the Bucs within the common season. If the Bucs advance to the NFC championship recreation, then they’d be in line to face Aaron Rodgers and the Packers — whom the Bucs routed within the common season.

NFL 2021 PLAYOFFS: Schedule, scores, TV

The Bucs’ protection is proficient. It constantly stops the run and coordinator Todd Bowles has good pass-rushers and strong defensive backs for his blitzing scheme. However in watching Heinicke decide aside that protection, it was evident that there are additionally loads of holes in protection. There can be continued strain, then, on Brady and the offense to win high-scoring video games within the playoffs. 

Brady was fired up and funky on the similar time Saturday. He was by no means rattled, and regardless that Washington put up a great battle, there was no purpose to imagine the Bucs weren’t all the time in full management of the sport. Alongside the best way, he made a few of his traditional jaw-dropping throws completely tailor-made to his receivers.

The Buccaneers have been clad of their pink and pewter uniforms, making an attempt to throw it again to the magic of their Tremendous Bowl 37 championship. However one may very well be simply fooled that Brady was nonetheless sporting the pink, white and navy blue of the Patriots groups that received Tremendous Bowls 36, 38, 39, 49, 51 and 53.

Brady left the Patriots as a result of they have been not the staff greatest suited to get the most effective out of him. He correctly picked the Bucs, and though it took some time, they fully grew to become his staff proper earlier than the playoffs.

Now that the Bucs are within the playoffs, they’re getting a really acquainted QB — nothing in need of a full GOAT.

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