There were only 44 seconds left on the clock, but Tom Brady was not going to lose his fourth straight game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
That’s all the time he needed to put together another classic game-winning drive that culminated in a well-deserved Bucs victory over the Los Angeles Rams, 16-13, on Sunday afternoon.
After forcing the Rams to kick once more — Los Angeles couldn’t do anything after taking a 13-6 lead in the third quarter — Brady looked at the clock and knew what to do. Fans have seen it before, but with the way the Buccaneers’ offense has been rocked at this point in the season, there were probably some doubts on the part of the fans.
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Still, Brady put on his helmet and got to work.
Six plays were needed to send Tampa Bay, without any downtime, on the field. Set up on his own 40-yard line, Brady found tight end Cade Otton first with a 28-yard strike to get into Rams territory. Then, after rounding out Leonard Fournette, Brady found Scotty Miller on back-to-back plays to pull up another 21 yards and reach the Rams’ seven-yard line with time to play a few plays.
Brady wasted no time trying out his old reliable target, Mike Evans. Despite failing to finish, Derion Kendrick was called for defensive pass interference, and now the Bucs were really in business.
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First and base from the Rams yard line, Brady found Otton for a yard score, and Raymond James Stadium went wild as the Bucs scored the game-winning touchdown with just nine seconds left.
It was Brady’s 55th career win.
“It was great,” he said after the game.
Brady not only notched another victory from behind with a classic game-winning drive, but he also topped 100,000 passing yards for his career. He entered the game with 99,836, which was already the NFL’s all-time record, and exited with 100,116 after a performance of 280 yards on 58 passing attempts.
But that game wasn’t memorable for Brady and the Bucs until then. It was more or less the same as the previous three games in which they struggled to get things done, and when they did, penalties ruined the positive momentum.
The Rams, who also struggle on the offensive side of the ball, couldn’t find much. However, Cooper Kupp scored the only first-half touchdown by any team on a 69-yard catch-and-run from quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Although he entered this game with an ankle injury, Kupp was his usual productive self, totaling 127 yards on eight receptions with his score.
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But the Rams’ running game was poor — Darrell Henderson Jr. had 56 yards on 12 carries with LA totaling just 68 rushing yards — and Stafford didn’t have too much time to let plays develop. He finished with 165 yards on 13 for 27 while being sacked four times.
The Bucs, however, had just 51 yards rushing as Leonard Fournette once again couldn’t do anything behind his O line. He had just 19 yards on nine carries, although he caught five passes from Brady for 41 yards.
Brady used nine different receivers in this one to do what was necessary to get the win despite how sloppy he could have been.
It was just another reminder of why Brady is considered the greatest of all time: Even when he looks down, there’s still time for the 45-year-old to do so.
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The Bucs will travel to Munich, Germany to face the surprising Seattle Seahawks next week. The Rams face the Arizona Cardinals, an NFC West foe, at home.