Tom Brady got the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and now he is hoping to get this franchise a second Super Bowl title. The journey begins on Saturday night when Tampa Bay(11-5) travels to D.C to battle the Washington Football(7-9) in the wild-card game.
As they enter the playoffs, Brady and the Buccaneers’ offense has been rolling. Tampa Bay has averaged 40 points a game, and in those three contests, Brady has thrown for 1137 yards with 10 touchdowns and only one interception.
The 43-year-old Brady looks comfortable in this offense, and they are flourishing on that side of the ball at the right time.
“I’d say every week is getting a little bit better and a little bit more consistent [with] better communication,” Brady said about the offense on Thursday. “We’re all understanding each other a little bit better each week. Football season is tough – there’s a lot of things to coordinate, there’s a lot of moving parts, different players, and in and out, you’re running different schemes. But I think we’ve just tried to not take the foot off the gas pedal [and] tried to understand each other a little bit better each week and try to put ourselves in a decent position.”
According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay will be tough to beat if they continue to score at this level.
“I don’t think with our defense we’re going to lose too many games if we can score 37,” he said. “I’m really satisfied with 30.”
During his 20 seasons with the Patriots, Brady has missed the playoffs only once, and according to the six-time Super Bowl winner, being in the playoffs is a privilege.
“Any time you make the playoffs, it’s a good feeling, and it’s a great opportunity to be playing this weekend. A privilege, I think, for all of us, he said. “I think we want to go make the most of it. Playoff football is pretty special to be a part of, and I’ll be excited to be out there Saturday night…
“I think it’s a different newness, but the same excitement to be ready to go out there and take a bunch of teammates. Going on the road in the playoffs is a tough thing to do. We’re a team that’s made a bunch of improvements over the course of the year, and we have to be at our best. That’s what this part of the season is all about. Regular season is what it is. You put it in the books [and] we’re here to win playoff games.”
Tampa Bay should beat Washington on Saturday; they are just the better team. However, it’s one game, and anything can happen, but with Brady at the helm, expect the Buccaneers to make it to the divisional round of the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was named FedEx Air Player of the Week for Week 17, the NFL announced on Wednesday, marking the 12th time Brady has won this award in his career and the second time with the Buccaneers.
In a 44-27 win versus Atlanta, Brady completed 26-of-41 passes for 399 yards and four touchdowns, recording a 117.8 passer rating. His 399 passing yards were the second most by any player in the final week of the 2020 regular season while his four passing touchdowns tied for the most.
The 43-year-old Brady finished his first season in Tampa Bay with a franchise-record 40 passing touchdowns to go along with 4,633 yards, which rank as the second-most in a single season in team history. Brady’s 102.2 passer rating in 2020 is the highest single-season mark in team history (min. 224 attempts). His 40 passing touchdowns surpassed Peyton Manning (37 in 2012 with Denver) for the most by a player in his first season with a team, while his 4,633 passing yards are the second-most by a player in his first season with a team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady gave the team everything they could ask for in 2020. He led them to 11 wins after Tampa Bay(11-5) defeated the Falcons 44-27 on Sunday. The 11 wins are tied for the second most wins in a single season in team history and the first season with at least 11 wins since 2005. With the victory, the Buccaneers will be the 5th-seed in the NFC playoffs and play the Washington Football Team on Saturday night.
Brady also threw 40 touchdowns this season, a franchise-record, and the second time Brady has thrown 40 or more touchdowns in a season. He also surpassed Peyton Manning (37 in 2012 with Denver) for the most touchdown passes in NFL history by a player in his first season with a team (includes rookies).
After the game, the 43-year-old Brady discussed throwing 40 touchdowns in 2020.
“Whatever happens for me as a quarterback is reflective of what our group does on offense,” Brady said. “I love playing with the guys I play with. We’ve got a great group of receivers, great group of tight ends – very selfless – the backs have done an incredible job. The way the offensive line is playing and protecting gives any quarterback a great opportunity. It’s a team sport – those are great team accomplishments. Just proud of all the guys [for] what they put in this year. Now we’re moving into the playoffs. We have a great opportunity ahead of us, and we’ve got to go try and take advantage of it.”
According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, he expected Brady to throw 40 touchdowns this season.
“I think he broke Peyton Manning’s record for [touchdown passes] being [in the first season] with a team [by] throwing 40 touchdowns,” he said. “I think Peyton had 37, so I know he’ll like that [and] Peyton will be pissed. When we first met, that’s really what we talked about – the guys that we have and what he could do with the players that we have. Adding Rob Gronkowski to the mix just helped. I envisioned 40 [touchdowns]. When he first signed, I said, ‘OK, we’ll be a 40 [touchdown] and 10 [interception] team.’ I was expecting practice; I was expecting OTAs and those things. What he’s done with none of that – especially this last half of the season – is incredible.”
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans also had a milestone on Sunday before leaving the game with a knee injury in the second quarter. Evans surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the seventh-straight season. Evans is the first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in seven consecutive seasons to begin his career, surpassing Randy Moss (six straight seasons). Evans finished his seventh season with a franchise-record 13 receiving touchdowns.
Regarding Evans, Arians did say after the game that he does not think Evans has any “serious damage” to his knee.
if Tampa Bay can win three games, probably all on the road, they will be the first team to play a Super Bowl at their home stadium. It won’t be easy, but you have Brady, so anything is possible
No matter what happens, the next few weeks should be interesting!
The Giants were riding their train on the way home from Baltimore yesterday evening when they learned the results of the late afternoon games involving NFC East teams that left them with an opportunity to win the division title on the final weekend of the regular season.
But Joe Judge would prefer his players not think about the possibility of playing in the postseason but instead concentrate on their Week 17 opponents, the Dallas Cowboys.
It’s the same approach the first-year coach has taken all year.
“I actually met with the team last night when we got back to make sure we were set on what the plan for the week was,” Judge said on a Zoom call today. “Our focus still needs to remain on the Cowboys. That’s the priority this week. We remain focused on improving as a team. We have a division rival coming up ahead, it’s a big game for us. Obviously, there are implications. As I’ve said all along, those games right now don’t exist. Until I can talk about any kind of opponent coming up beyond who we’re playing, there’s not a conversation to be had. Our focus remains on the Cowboys.”
Dallas has won three consecutive games to improve to 6-9. On Oct. 11, the Cowboys defeated the Giants in AT&T Stadium, 37-34, on Greg Zuerlein’s 34-yard field goal as time expired. Dallas has won the last seven games between the teams.
The Giants are alive in the division race despite a three-game losing streak that has dropped their record to 5-10. The winner of their game against Dallas in MetLife Stadium at 1 p.m. Sunday must then wait for the result of the Washington Football Team vs. Eagles game that night in Philadelphia. A Washington victory will give it the division crown at 7-9. Should Dallas win and Washington lose, the Cowboys will stand alone at 7-9 and the Giants will finish third at 5-11. But if the Giants and the Eagles – who are eliminated – each win, all three contenders will be 6-10. The Giants would claim the championship based on their 3-1 head-to-head record vs. Dallas and Washington.
Yesterday, the Giants lost to the Ravens in the 1 o’clock window, 27-13. Dallas and Washington each played late in the afternoon, giving Judge and the Giants an opportunity to monitor their games as they returned to New Jersey. The Cowboys crushed the Eagles, 37-17, while Washington lost to the Carolina Panthers, 20-13.
“Being on the train, actually we had the game streaming in the background,” Judge said. “We had kind of a little conference room in the front car that I was in. Me and (defensive coordinator) Pat Graham sat in there. We went through the defensive tape together and watched like we do, we did the same thing coming back from Washington and talked some ball. We were kind of checking scores throughout the league with a lot of games going. That’s kind of normal custom right there. Everyone’s kind of checking scores around the league. Last night was no different. Obviously, there were some division games going on that we were conscious of. We checked those, we streamed those and watched the end of those games.”
Judge was asked what the team’s reaction was after learning their Week 17 games would potentially have a division championship at stake.
“To be honest with you, I was actually separate from the rest of the players,” Judge said. “They had us very spaced out in the cars. The front car was kind of more coaches than it was players. I saw the players on the back end when we got back to the facility. I called a quick meeting in the bubble just to address how we’re going to handle the week going forward, and kind of clear up any questions that may have come up. To be honest with you, look, the questions about the playoffs, these are things the players obviously have as well.
“We’re going to keep our focus on Dallas. We’re not getting focused on the playoffs. I truly believe what I said earlier. This is a hypothetical game. The only thing we can control is what we do against Dallas. At the same time, there’s a human nature that they’re very conscious of what’s going on around the league. It would be naïve or ignorant to pretend that they’re not paying attention as well. When we got back, I grabbed the team and just kind of let them know what the situation is, but really, reaffirm the importance of staying focused on Dallas. That’s all we can control.”
The players, no doubt following a directive from Judge, have virtually abstained from discussing the division race and postseason permutations.
“I’m just focused on Dallas,” center Nick Gates said. “We have to beat Dallas first to be able to even think about the playoffs. After we beat them, we have to see if Washington wins. I’m just focused on Dallas and trying to give ourselves the best opportunity.”
“Our coaches hit it best,” said middle linebacker and defensive captain Blake Martinez. “They said, you always want to have meaningful December football games. Obviously, this game will be in January, so meaningful January games. To be able to have that, every competitor, especially in the NFL, wants to have that opportunity.”
And what are Martinez’s thoughts about the Giants’ playoff chances?
“You just go about each and every week the same that we have been doing since the start of the season,” Martinez said. “Just making sure we get better. Going to work Monday, making improvements that we need to from the previous game. Just focus on what we can do as a team to be better than we were last week. Be better than we were to start the season. As long as we’re doing that and showing it the following Sunday, whatever ends up happening, happens. We’re ready to go and we’ll do the same thing if we get another chance to re-focus in and get back to work the following Monday after that.”
Martinez is one captain clearly following the orders of his general.
Jacksonville Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew is a starter again for the team as they prepare to travel to Baltimore to battle the Ravens(8-5) on Sunday. Jacksonville(1-12) is looking to snap a 12-game losing streak.
The second-year quarterback replaced au ineffective Mike Glennon last week in Jacksonville’s loss to the Titans. Minshew saw his first action since he injured his thumb back in October. Before the injury, Minshew started the first seven games for Jacksonville.
“I mean going into the week, I was kind of expecting it, ready to roll,” Minshew said on Wednesday about being named the starter against Baltimore. “[I’m] just glad to be back in the saddle.”
Being 1-12 and on a 12-game losing streak, Minshew believes there is no pressure on this team at this juncture of the season.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a ton of pressure right now,” Minshew said. “I don’t think anybody really expects much of a 1-12 team, but we expect a lot of ourselves. We’re going to go out there, try not to let what’s going on this season determine what happens these next three games. We’re going to go try to have a lot of fun, make the most of them, put some good stuff on tape.”
There’s a good chance Minshew won’t be in Jacksonville next season. At this point, the team still has an outside chance at getting the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but for that to happen, they have to keep on losing and hope that the Jets(0-13) find a way to win a game. At this time, due to strength of schedule(Jaguars having an easier strength of schedule), if the Jaguars and Jets end up with the same record, Jacksonville will get the number one pick, which means they probably get Lawrence if he declares for the draft.
So, Jacksonville has a lot to play for at this point of the season, and if things go their way, maybe they will get that franchise quarterback they have coveted for many years.
Philadelphia Eagles K Jake Elliott was one of the heroes of Super Bowl 52. Elliott made three field goals in that contest, including a 46-yarder that put the Eagles up 41-33 late in the game. Ultimately, as we know, Philadelphia would hold on and defeat the Patriots on that day.
Before this season, the 25-year-old Elliott had been a very consistent kicker for the Eagles and was rewarded with a five-year, $21 million contract extension last November, but one year later, Elliott is floundering. In 13 games this season, Elliott has missed five field goals(13-18), including a 22-yarder last week in the team’s win over New Orleans.
On Tuesday, Eagles special teams coach Dave Fipp talked about Elliott’s struggles in 2020.
“Obviously, the last three weeks, he’s had some short misses there. It’s unacceptable for us. He knows that I know that,” Fipp said… “I mean, I have to do a better job with him just working our fundamentals, our techniques, our drills. We had a good snap, a good hold. I think the operation has been really good for him. He’s obviously made a bunch of longer kicks, so some of it is hard to fathom. At the end of the day, I’m not going to get into all the techniques and detail, but it comes down to just striking the ball more consistently. We got to get him in a little bit better rhythm and make sure he’s striking the ball a little bit more consistently there.
“He’s a talented player; he’s got a lot of tools, he’s a really talented player, he works really hard at it. It’s really important to him, it’s not a lack of effort or of a want to, so we’ll just stay the course. I think any player in that position in this league or most players in that position in this league have had to fight through something. This will be a good opportunity for him to fight through a little adversity here.”
Elliott has to be better going forward for the Eagles. In reality, no one cares about the kicker until they have to care about the kicker, and that usually happens when the kicker is struggling, and at this time, Elliott is struggling. It’s hard to understand why, but hopefully, Fipp can find ways to help Elliott turn it around. Otherwise, Philadelphia may have a decision to make at the kicker position.
The Giants’ recent good times were interrupted Sunday afternoon.
Soaring into their MetLife Stadium matchup against the Arizona Cardinals with a four-game winning streak, the Giants were grounded by an ineffective offense and lost, 26-7. The defeat dropped them to 5-8 and likely set up a wild three-week finish to the NFC East title chase. Just one week ago, the Giants earned their most impressive victory of the season, against the Seahawks in Seattle.
“I don’t think we had any kind of a hangover from going out to Seattle last week,” coach Joe Judge said. “I don’t think that’s the cause of it. Again, this game is completely independent of anything that has happened before. We simply didn’t come out today and we didn’t coach well enough and we didn’t play well enough. That’s the hard truth of it. We have to do a much better job.”
They’ll get an opportunity next Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns, who are 9-3 entering their clash tomorrow against the Baltimore Ravens.
Quarterback Daniel Jones, who missed the Seattle game with a hamstring injury, returned to the starting lineup, but his comfort level appeared to be less than optimal.
Jones completed only 11 passes, his lowest total in any of his 24 career starts. His 21 attempts and 127 yards were this second-lowest figures. Jones was sacked six times, tying the second-highest total he’s absorbed in a game. He fumbled three times, losing one. And for the first time as a pro, he did not have a rushing attempt.
“I think I wasn’t able to run like I normally do, but I felt good during the game,” Jones said. “I was able to move around the pocket and do what I needed to do throwing the ball. I think I got to do better with that still.”
“Something that has been very positive for our offense this year is Daniel being able to run the ball and extend some plays right there,” Judge said. “He had a few today. He got outside of the pocket. He had some passes down the sideline. He had a throw away and a completion down there at one point. Obviously, you take away part of the offense in any regard, it’s going to affect how everything else complements itself right there.”
Jones was replaced for the Giants’ final offensive series by Colt McCoy, who played the entire game last week.
“It (the injury) wore on me a bit during the game,” Jones said. “Just got to do a good job staying on top of it and making sure it’s healing up like it should.”
Judge had numerous conversations with Jones in the days leading up to the game.
“I thought he was able to protect himself in the pocket, which was the main concern as in can he step up and can he move in it,” Judge said. “We knew there were going to be some situations today where he wasn’t going to pull it down and just run like he’s done in the past. We knew that he was going to either end up throwing the ball away or take sacks at certain point. We knew that going into the game and we saw that early on. But I thought, overall, that he showed that he was able to protect himself in the pocket. I checked on him at halftime. I checked on him throughout the course of the game. That was really kind of the feedback we got right there.”
In response to a follow-up question, Judge said, “No, I have no regrets on playing him. We made a calculated decision based on what he could do as a player. We went out there, and as a team, we have to execute better.”
He’ll get no dissent on that final point. The Giants posted numerous season-low numbers, including 159 total yards, 81 net passing yards, eight sacks allowed (McCoy took two) and 10 first downs and tied another with three turnovers (all fumbles). They owned the ball for only 22:08. Wayne Gallman led the rushing attack with 57 yards. Dion Lewis scored their only touchdown, on a one-yard run in the third quarter. No receiver caught more than three passes.
The offense likely helped Arizona outside linebacker Hassan Reddick win the NFC Defensive Player of the Week Award. Reddick set a record for a Giants opponent and a Cardinals record with 5.0 sacks and forced three fumbles.
“They definitely did some things that we didn’t expect, but we did what we could,” Gallman said. “Of course, there are things that we have to get better at ourselves. They played good today, but I think there are things that we could have done better in terms of our IDs and stuff as our own unit. That’s just something that we have to go back and fix during our practice.”
“They had a good game plan going in, a few different things, but every team does every week,” Jones said. “We got to do a better job identifying, I have to do a better job with that and getting the ball out on time.”
The Giants’ defense had its own share of frustration. Arizona ran the ball 43 times for 149 yards, both the highest totals by a Giants opponent this season. The Cardinals never turned over the ball. Quarterback Kyler Murray constantly demonstrated his slippery elusiveness while getting sacked just once on 36 dropbacks. He completed 24 passes for 244 yards and ran for 47 more. Murray’s favorite target was DeAndre Hopkins, who finished with nine catches for 136 yards.
“Murray is a special player, we knew he was going to make certain plays here and there,” linebacker Blake Martinez said. “We needed to do better keeping him in there and making sure we had our game plan set, we just didn’t play as well as we wanted to.”
Arizona scored touchdowns on a seven-yard pass to tight end Dan Arnold in the second quarter, Kenyan Drake’s one-yard dive in the third and four field goals by Mike Nugent, who was in the Giants’ training camp in 2017 and played in his first game since Oct. 27, 2019, with New England. Nugent’s field goals traveled 34, 37, 34 and 30 yards.
“I think it just came down to they performed better than us,” cornerback James Bradberry said. “We didn’t execute when we needed to and that’s usually the name of the game. You’ve got to execute and make plays, and we didn’t do enough today.”
It doesn’t mean the good times can’t return next week.