Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady made a career in fourth quarter comebacks but didn’t look the part at Chicago in 2020 when his fourth down mixup went viral.
Brady, who has the second-most career fourth quarter comebacks in NFL history at 39, believed it was only third down when he rifled a pass well past the chains on fourth-and-five. The Bucs went lost to the Bears 20-19.
“You guys remember this one? fourth quarter, last chance in Chicago. I thought it was the second-to-last chance in Chicago but apparently not,” Brady said in a video shared by Sports Center. “I don’t think I’ve ever been as confused as I’ve been in this moment right here. Look at that face.”
The Bears ran out the clock after that moment, and the Bucs dipped to 3-2 for the season. It turned out to be inconsequential to the overall picture as Brady led the Bucs to an 8-3 mark after that and a playoff run to win Super Bowl LV.
Brady shined throughout the rest of the regular season and playoffs, throwing for 4,319 yards and 38 touchdowns. He also won his fifth Super Bowl MVP along the way.
Things didn’t look that way at the time of Brady’s mistake. Questions of his age and being past his prime emerged left and right.
Brady again put away the doubters with his performance, but Brady’s fourth down failure memes circulated — sometimes with a more positive spin. The Bucs posted it, for instance, after collecting a fourth playoff win and beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Tampa beat Washington, New Orleans, and Green Bay in the NFC Playoffs.
“How many playoff games did you win this year, Tom Brady,” the Bucs social media team wrote.
The latest Bucs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bucs newsletter here!
Brady wouldn’t admit the mistake immediately following the Oct. 9, 2020, defeat. He danced around the subject instead when asked.
“Yeah, you’re up against the clock and you’re up against the — I knew we had to gain a chunk, so I should have been thinking more first down instead of chunk in that situation,” Brady said per ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “I knew we needed a chunk and I was thinking about more yardage. It was just bad execution. We had a great opportunity there so … just didn’t execute when we needed to.”
Brady missed on a pass to tight end Cameron Brate on that play under tight coverage, which could have set up a game-winning field goal if caught. The Bucs only needed five yards to convert the fourth down with the ball just behind midfield as 38 seconds remained on the game clock.
Tampa could have avoided the situation entirely though by maintaining its early 13-0 lead before giving up two second-quarter touchdowns. The Bucs mustered two field goals in the second half.
Arians Covered It up, Too
Though Bucs head coach Bruce Arians didn’t shy away from honest criticism of Brady’s performances throughout the season, Arians didn’t do that with the fourth-down debacle.
“Yeah, he knew,” Arians said per Laine.
Arians placed the blame on coaching instead, Laine wrote.
Having coached with AFC teams Brady once tormented, Arians knows too well that Brady succeeds under pressure way more than he gaffes.