Might this be the last Bucs’ game for Brady?

by Gary Shelton on January 14, 2023

in general

Would this be Brady's greatest comeback?/TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Is this the start of Tom Brady's greatest comeback of all?

Or is this goodbye?

Already, three. years is up. Already, the speculation has Brady going to the Raiders, or the Dolphins, or wherever. Even as Brady enters the playoffs, the internet is stuffed with guesswork about his future.

What Tampa Bay has is this week, and memories of a nice slice of Brady's exceptional career. For now, that will have to do.

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Even if Brady doesn't lead the Bucs to an upset of Dallas on Monday night -- and the odds say he will not -- then Tampa Bay fans can feel good about the best three years of quarterback they have ever seen. That's inarguable.

A Super Bowl.

Two division titles.

Three playoffs.

1,643 yards (and 1,661 more in the post-season).

One hundred and eight touchdowns (and 13 more in the post-season)l.

32 wins (and five in the post-season).

Ten fourth quarter comebacks (and four other game-winning drives).

And hope.

For the Bucs, that hope is the loudest category of them all. Tampa Bay can win Monday if they are average at blocking (as usual) and horrible at running (ditto). But they cannot survive unless Brady is good. It's a large load to put on any one guy, but Brady has spent a career picking it up.

For all the comebacks (46 in his career, plus nine in the post-season), this would be the greatest. This time, he is trying to come back from mediocrity. He is trying to salvage a season from the scrap heap. He is trying to breathe life into a dead offense.

Frankly, the Bucs don't look especially prepared for Brady's exit. Neither Blaine Gabbert nor Kyle Trask has done much to instill faith. For the Bucs, relevancy next season depends on who is the quarterback.

So what has to happen Monday night? The line has to give Brady time. The pass rush has to get home. The secondary has to make sure CeeDee Lamb doesn't light them on fire. A couple of turnovers wouldn't hurt.

But most of all, Brady has to be sharp. He hasn't always been, not even when he has had time. He has to throw for 280 yards. He has to score 24 points, maybe 30.

Otherwise, he walks away, and he takes his legacy with him.

Yes, he was better than Doug Williams, and I think the world of Doug. He was better than Brad Johnson, whose Super Bowl run is under-appreciated. Goodness knows, he was better than Jameis Winston and Vinny Testaverde and Josh Freeman and the rest of the dancing catastrophes.

He made the Bucs matter. He made deficits seem small. He made end zones seem reachable.

Monday night he tries one more time.

At least.

Prediction: Dallas 28, Tampa Bay 24.

In other NFL games:

San Francisco 35, Seattle 17.

L.A. Chargers 24, Jacksonville 20.

Buffalo 37, Miami 14.

Minnesota 27, N.Y. Giants 17.

Cincinnati 30, Baltimore 20.

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