Tom Brady made a costly mistake on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ final play in Thursday night’s loss against the Chicago Bears.
Trailing 20-19 and driving for a possible game-winning field goal, Brady threw an incomplete pass down the field on fourth-and-five with 33 seconds remaining. The quarterback held up four fingers when the play ended, appearing to believe the next play was actually fourth down and Tampa Bay had another shot to stay alive.
But it was Chicago’s ball, and Tampa Bay was unable to complete the comeback.
“I know we needed a chunk and I was thinking about more yardage and it was bad execution,” Brady told reporters after the game. “I had a great opportunity there. Just didn’t execute when we needed to.”
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said Brady knew it was fourth down, and the quarterback didn’t admit to thinking Tampa Bay had one more play. Either way, it was very un-Brady-like for the veteran not to lead his team to a game-winning score.
It appeared that Tom Brady thought it was only 3rd down after his incomplete pass to Cameron Brate. pic.twitter.com/n3NFbZnH2o
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 9, 2020
It was the kind of uncharacteristic play that raises questions about how much Brady has left in the tank. The 43-year-old finished the night with pedestrian numbers, going 25-41 for 253 yards and a mediocre 86.7 passer rating. Tampa Bay failed to score a touchdown after the first quarter, allowing Nick Foles and the Bears to pull off the upset.
Is Brady washed up? Despite Thursday’s error, the first four games of the 2020 NFL season indicate the six-time Super Bowl champion is still better than most quarterbacks.
Brady was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 4 only a few days ago after throwing for 369 yards, five touchdowns and an interception in a 38-31 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. He’s averaging 275.0 yards per game and a 96.8 passer rating with 12 touchdowns and four picks.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay’s No.2 wide receiver, has missed two games with an injury. Leading receiver Mike Evans has been battling a hamstring injury all season.
Tampa Bay has a 3-2 record with a half-game lead atop the NFC South. The Bucs are still considered to be among the conference’s Super Bowl contenders.
Brady won’t be able to lead Tampa Bay to a title without plenty of help. He no longer resides in the top tier of quarterbacks, which is occupied by the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson.
The greatest quarterback of all time isn’t quite the same player he was with the New England Patriots, so he might make NFL fans scratch their head a few more times before the season is over.