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Tom Brady has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking dangerous

A lot was made of Tom Brady’s struggles with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers heading into Week 17 against the Carolina Panthers.

Brady had thrown just 21 touchdowns against nine interceptions in 15 games. He was leading a Buccaneers offense that ranked 27th in the NFL in scoring.

Despite this, Tampa Bay had an opportunity to clinch the NFC South with a home win over Carolina.

It did not start out too swimmingly for the seven-time Super Bowl champion and his team. Carolina opened up a 14-0 lead with touchdown drives of 75 yards and 57 yards, respectively.

That’s when Tom Terrific started to do his thing by turning back the clock in a big way. He connected with Mike Evans on a 63-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to give the Bucs their first points of the game.

A deep pass to Mike Evans? It’s a thing that actually happened. It also represented Evans’ first touchdown since all the way back in Week 3. But this connection was not close to done.

With the Bucs down 21-10 in the third quarter, Tom Brady once again connected with his No. 1 receiver. This time, it came via a 57-yard touchdown to pull Tampa Bay to within one score.

Brady, 45, entered Week 17 averaging just 9.4 yards per completion. If this held firm through the final two weeks, it would’ve represented a career-worst mark for the future first ballot Hall of Famer. Apparently, Brady wasn’t about to let that happen.

A few minutes later, Brady then found Evans for the hat trick to give Tampa Bay a 24-21 lead. This time, it came via a 30-yard touchdown to cap off a 92-yard drive.

Talk about stepping up with everything on the line. We’ve seen this countless times throughout Brady’s brilliant 23-year career. But most figured Father Time had caught up to Mr. Brady. He was out there to prove these skeptics wrong.

Less than a minute later, Tampa Bay took advantage of a Panthers lost fumble to score another touchdown and take a two-score lead. When all was said and done, the Bucs came out on top by the score of 30-24 with Brady putting up his best performance since back in Week 5 of the 2021 season.

  • Tom Brady stats (Week 17): 34-of-45 passing, 432 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 127.3 QB rating

Now at 8-8 on the season and having clinched the NFC South, Brady and Co. can rest their starters Week 18 against the Atlanta Falcons and prepare for the NFL Wild Card Playoffs.

Related: Tom Brady and NFL’s top QBs of 2023

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers dangerous heading into the playoffs

tampa bay buccaneers qb tom brady
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

If the season ended today, Tampa would host the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the NFL Playoffs. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this has to be of concern for Mike McCarthy’s squad with what we saw from Brady on New Year’s Day.

For the Buccaneers, it now seems like ages since they lost to the San Francisco 49ers by the score of 35-7. They played the Bengals close in Week 15 before taking on the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas and disposing of the Panthers on Sunday.

Related: NFL Playoff and Super Bowl predictions

Realistically, the Buccaneers have a ton of holes on both sides of the ball. They are not top-end Super Bowl contenders. But when a team has someone of Brady’s ilk and championship pedigree, anything can happen. The Cowboys might find that out first hand during the wild card round as they look to overcome playoff struggles of the past quarter century.