Tom Brady and Tampa Bay Buccaneers advance to NFL playoffs as New York Giants seal playoff spot
Tom Brady and the NFL playoffs have become synonymous over his long and storied career.
And the 45-year-old booked his playoff spot again on Sunday thanks to a 30-24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers win over the Carolina Panthers.
The Bucs fell to big deficits twice – 14-0 and 21-10 – at Raymond James Stadium, but were twice able to produce goals to claim their second straight NFC South Division title.
Brady produced his best performance of what has been a disappointing season so far, completing 34 of 45 passes for 432 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Afterwards, the Bucs quarterback — having sealed his berth in the NFL playoffs for the 14th straight season — hailed his team’s resolve as a rocky regular season nears its finale.
“It was awesome,” Brady said, according to the Buccaneers website. “I’m really proud of our guys and all the team members, the coaches.
“We’ve been through a lot of tough stuff this year. Happy to win the division; it’s always hard to do that. NFL games are hard to win and we always find a way to keep them somehow exciting. I wish they weren’t as exciting as we did, but I’m glad we got the win and glad so many guys contributed.
Brady’s three touchdowns were thrown to wide receiver Mike Evans, who enjoyed a career afternoon in the Week 17 matchup.
Evans caught 10 passes for 207 yards and the trio of touchdown passes. Not only did the Monster Afternoon extend his streak of consecutive seasons with 1,000 receiving yards at nine, becoming the first NFL player to open his career with such a streak, Evans also became the first Bucs player to record 200 or more receiving yards and three scores. in one game.
The pair had connected for 26 touchdowns in their previous two seasons, but only three in the previous 16 weeks of the 2022 season.
But after weeks of struggles and looking offbeat, Brady and Evans dissected a Panthers defense just when it counted.
“It’s awesome,” Evans said. “It has been a year of ups and downs. We just kept fighting and we played our best ball today and it was really needed.
Elsewhere on Sunday, the New York Giants sealed their playoff spot with a dominating 38-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more as New York returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
It caps a dramatic improvement under first-year head coach Brian Daboll after five straight losing seasons and underperformance.
But the resurgence of running back Saquon Barkley and a budding defense led the Giants to a 9-6-1 record and a playoff berth.
As is tradition when a team reaches the playoffs, Daboll was doused in Gatorade to celebrate the assured win.
A smiling Daboll described the victory celebrations as “sticky and wet”.
“It was good excitement, obviously,” Daboll said, according to the Giants’ website.
“You work hard in this business to try to give yourself a chance to play extra innings or more games. So we did. We put ourselves in a position to compete in more than one other game. So the excitement, of course. Absolutely.”