After completely shocking the New Orleans Saints with yet another game-winning drive, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady fixed his unzipped jacket as he walked into the press conference room and said the only thing you’d expect him to say at this point in his illustrious career.
“Just like we drew it up,” Brady said smiling to a laughing crowd of reporters.
The mix of emotions from Brady throughout the game – screaming on the sideline in frustration with how the offense was sputtering to celebrating Rachaad White’s game-winning touchdown to seal a 17-6 stunning victory – was edge-of-your-seat-type stuff.
But after seeing this same film played out for years, it’s almost expected at this point when Brady has enough time left in the game to win it if the score says there’s a chance.
The score was 16-3 in the fourth quarter, and Brady had only won a game down 13-or-more points in the fourth once in his career. That was Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons that resulted in an overtime victory with the New England Patriots.
Overtime wasn’t needed for this one. Instead, Brady just needed to find the end zone for the first time in the game with rookie tight end Cade Otton hauling in a one-yard bootleg pass from the G.O.A.T to bring the Bucs within six points.
Feeling the pressure, New Orleans needed a couple of first downs to ice the game, as the Bucs had all three timeouts still on their sideline.
Instead, Andy Dalton and his bunch went three-and-out, burning just two of the Buccaneers’ timeouts and the two-minute warning not yet reached, effectively giving Brady two timeouts and more than enough time to win the game with a touchdown and successful extra point.
At that point in the game, yeah, it’s just like Brady has drawn it up multiple times before. He dissected the Saints’ defense with short, methodic passes to allow his receivers to get out of bounds.
And when he needed that big play, he found Julio Jones, who hauled in a pass on a tremendous leaping grab that set the Bucs up on the Saints’ five-yard line.
Brady, then found Chris Godwin for what would’ve been the game-winning touchdown had left tackle Donovan Smith, the most penalized offensive lineman in the NFL this season, not been called for holding.
Nonetheless, Brady found Godwin again for nine yards to give the Bucs a chance from the Saints’ six-yard line.
That’s when Brady waited for White to win his matchup on linebacker Demario Davis and stretched his body into the end zone. Ryan Succop’s extra point was good and Brady added his 44th game-winning drive to his future Hall of Fame resume.
The season hasn’t been drawn up the way Brady would like at this point, as Tampa Bay gutted out just their sixth win of the season.
But the Bucs sit atop a dreadful NFC South division, and separate themselves a bit from the pack with this win.
So, while there wasn’t a lot to smile or joke about during most of this game, all that matters is a win – something Brady is used to doing in crunch time.
Brady finished the game with 281 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 36 of 54 passing.