Tom Brady pulled out his second half Superman cape the Atlanta Falcons know all too well because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers couldn’t shake a season-long problem.
Slow starts remain a question that will be coming Brady and the Bucs’ way all week after a 31-27 comeback win over the Falcons on Sunday until a Week 16 tilt against the Detroit Lions. Bucs players and coaches fielded the questions many times this season, and it will linger into the holidays.
Brady didn’t shy away from the first round of questions about it at Sunday’s postgame press conference.
“We’re going to have to do it for 60 minutes, and that’s a big point of emphasis for us,” Brady said. “Everyone loves winning, but we also want to play better. We want to play our best.”
First quarter woes that plagued the Buccaneers all season worsen on Sunday at Atlanta as the Bucs fell behind 17-0 by halftime. Brady, who engineered a comeback in the second half, couldn’t reverse the Bucs’ offensive tendencies to start games.
After Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan led an opening touchdown drive, the Bucs offense sputtered on its first possession when running back Leonard Fournette lost eight yards on a catch from Brady. The 43-year-old quarterback couldn’t get any long completions on the second drive as that one also ended in a punt.
Brady got sacked in the third drive, which resulted in a three-and-out. He only mustered a seven-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Evans on that drive. The Bucs fourth drive of the half also stalled out on a Brady sack.
Brady Does it Again
Three years ago, then-New England Patriots quarterback Brady erased a 28-3 second-half deficit against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
Brady couldn’t outdo himself in his encore, but he still came up big with 390 yards passing and two touchdowns. He led the Bucs to five consecutive scoring drives in the second half. He also did something no other quarterback in the league has done this season according to Dan Graziano of ESPN via Twitter.
Per @ESPNStatsInfo , the 320 yards by Tom Brady today was the most in the second half by any QB in the league this year.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) December 20, 2020
Brady outdueled Ryan in a quarterback rematch of Super Bowl LI. Ryan finished with 34-49 passing 356 yards passing and three touchdowns. Brady improved to 7-0 all-time against the Falcons, broadcaster Rich Eisen tweeted.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) December 20, 2020
Bucs linebacker Devin White said he didn’t think about Brady’s epic comeback per WTSP’s Grace Remington on Twitter.
Devin White says he didn’t think about Tom Brady’s Super Bowl comeback vs ATL today. “I just know anytime you got TB on your side, he’s gonna make the play… it might start a little slow, but I know when it's time to come through for us he can come through.” #Bucs
— Grace Remington (@GraceRemiWTSP) December 20, 2020
Bucs tight end Cameron Brate admitted he thought about it according to Buccaneers.com’ Carmen Vitali on Twitter.
TE Cam Brate said Tom Brady's track record and his belief in the team helps them stay confident in themselves.
"He's done it on the biggest stage. Like that 28-3 game."
— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) December 20, 2020
While Brady and the Bucs found a way in the second half, they’ll still need answers for slow starts. Otherwise, Brady will need that Superman cape every week. He made a career of this thus far as The Athletic’s Greg Auman Tweeted.
Today's fourth-quarter comeback was the 39th of Tom Brady's NFL career — he's second all-time, and moves closer to Peyton Manning's NFL record of 43. Has three this year, with Chargers, Giants and today vs. Falcons. https://t.co/to3NH240JH
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) December 20, 2020
Brown Finally Catches TD
Antonio Brown drew criticism for low-production in his first five games as a Buccaneer.
The star wide receiver, signed in October by the Bucs, caught his first touchdown pass against the Falcons as Brady found him on a 46-yard connection. It put the Bucs ahead to stay.
“He’s done a lot of work to get to this point,” Brady said in the postgame press conference. “AB came down with a big one for us.”
Part of Brown’s wait for a TD stems from an abundance of talent at skill positions for the Bucs, Brady acknowledged.
“As a quarterback, it’s tough sometimes because you’ve got a lot of guys open, and you’ve got to distribute it to different guys,” Brady said.