Six-time champion Tom Brady’s postseason begins on Saturday, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback bids for a Super Bowl berth far from the chilly embrace of his former New England Patriots.
After a productive season with 40 touchdown passes, his most since 2007, Brady and the Bucs will visit the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card round, as the seemingly ageless 43-year-old looks to prove he is still a reliable postseason threat.
“It all comes down to one game,” Brady told reporters after the Bucs’ 44-27 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. “It’s one football game, who plays well, who executes when the pressure is on.”
His former rival Peyton Manning is the only starting National Football League (NFL) quarterback to have brought home a Super Bowl ring with multiple teams – one of a scarce few achievements Brady has yet to reach in his 21 seasons.
But Brady, who wrote in April that he would join the Bucs “to see how great I can be,” is on the right track, casting aside late-season concerns over his ability to get the ball downfield to close out the season with 399 passing yards in the regular-season finale.
Asked if he had to pick one player he was most proud of, head coach Bruce Arians diplomatically told reporters this week that there were many – but then singled out Brady.
“I’d probably have to say Tom for what he’s been through,” said Arians. “What he’s done – 40 touchdowns with a new team – learning all that verbiage, it was not easy.”
Triumphing over Washington will not be a breeze either, with three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans not participating in practice on Tuesday after a knee injury and linebacker Devin White, who had 140 tackles in 2020, on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
“They’re an extremely well-coached team,” said Arians.
Of particular concern for Brady will be rookie defensive end Chase Young, already a Pro Bowler, who boldly declared “Tom Brady, I’m coming!” after the 7-9 Washington’s sloppy 20-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles to book a spot in the playoffs.
“He’s a hell of a player,” said Arians. “We’ll have our hands full but it’s one of those games where you better watch what you wish for.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Toby Davis)