By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Tom Brady entered Week 5 coming off one of his best games in years, a five-touchdown come-from-behind victory over the Chargers. It was a dynamite performance from the 43-year-old, who showed that he can still -- still! -- play a young man's game at its very highest level.
Fortunately for us, Brady's next game came in prime time. And it came just four days later.
Unfortunately for Tom, it ended with an embarrassing blunder.
Matt Nagy somewhat foolishly opted to pass the ball on a second-and-9 from the Bucs' 24-yard line with 1:28 left in the game, with the Bears trailing by two points. It was aggressive, as a first down there would essentially seal the win for the home team. But it was foolish, because an incompletion would give Tom Brady an extra 40 seconds to work with on his eventual and inevitable comeback drive.
You don't give Tom Brady extra time in the fourth quarter.
Or maybe you do.
That pass fell incomplete, the Bears threw again on third down but completed it short of the sticks, leading to Cairo Santos kicking the go-ahead field goal with 1:13 left in the game.
It was Tom Brady time. National TV. The whole football world watching. This is the moment Brady wanted when he ventured off from New England. This was his time.
And the winning drive started on a promising note, with Brady connecting with Mike Evans for 12 yards and with the receiver getting out of bounds. It was on.
But then Brady threw incomplete to Evans. Then he completed a short pass over the middle to Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who was tackled in bounds after a gain of just four. The Bucs rushed to the line on third-and-6, with Brady throwing a high pass out of the reach of Rob Gronkowski's hands.
That led the Bucs into a fourth-and-6, with the game on the line. Everyone was ready for Brady to make a Brady play. Instead, he took a deep shot up the left seam to Cameron Brate, who was well-covered by DeAndre Houston-Carson. The pass fell to the turf harmlessly, and the Bears began celebrating.
Brady, meanwhile, began signaling with four fingers to the referee.
Tom Brady -- the greatest quarterback of all time, the most clutch performer in NFL history, the greatest winner the game has ever seen -- somehow DID NOT KNOW that he had just taken a snap on fourth down.
Somehow, some way, Thomas Edwards Patrick Brady Jr. lost track of downs at the end of a game in a situation where his team was looking to him to put them on his shoulders and carry them to victory.
Brady couldn't even admit what happened after the loss.
"Yeah I knew we needed a chunk, and I was thinking about more yardage," Brady replied when asked if he didn't know it was fourth down on the incompletion to Brate. "And then, you know ... it was just, it was bad execution. I mean, we had a great opportunity there. So just didn't execute when we needed to."
Outside of that moment, it wast just a mediocre night for Brady, coming off his NFC Offensive Player of the Week performance just four days prior. Brady completed 25 of his 41 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown. He didn't throw any interceptions, but the Chicago pass rush turned up the heat in the second half and sacked him three times.
It was a pretty so-so night from Brady. Here's a deeper look at what else stood out from the game, which the Bears (and Nick Foles) won 20-19. Here's how it went for ol' Tommy Boy in his first game under the lights as a member of the Buccaneers.
STILL THE GUN
One thing that's really stood out about Brady over the past five days is his velocity. The guys is just zinging missiles out there.
It was evident Thursday on Brady's touchdown pass to Mike Evans in the first quarter:
And it was evident on some other balls that left trails of smoke on them throughout the night:
Some bozos said his arm strength was declining like ... I don't even remember. Five years ago? They were bozos then, they're bozos now.
The Bucs led 13-0 before falling behind 14-13 before halftime. In the third quarter, the Bucs' offense faced a second-and-27, a first-and-30 and a third-and-27.
That's not ideal. None of it.
Whether it was offensive pass interference on Evans, or unnecessary roughness on Ryan Jensen, or holding on Tristan Wirfs, or illegal contact on Rob Gronkowski, or holding on Alex Cappa, it seemed like Brady didn't appreciate the lack of discipline when he got to the sideline after getting hit while chucking a deep prayer on a third-and-a-million.
Rumor has it he was parroting Will Ferrell's locker room speech from "Old School."
Here's the thing, though: These tirades where you demand perfection and discipline from your teammates? They carry a lot more weight when you don't LOSE TRACK OF WHAT DOWN IT IS AT THE END OF THE GAME!
Holy moly, sweet cannoli. I still cannot believe it.
OLD MAN CAN STILL MOVE
As you surely know, 43-year-old people don't play in the NFL. It's unsafe. If they do, they kick. They certainly don't stand in the pocket as 265-pound machines come charging at them from every angle. It's unsafe.
Yet Brady's still playing, and he's still showing the same pocket awareness that made him special in the early 2000s.
It won't make SportsCenter. (Do the kids still watch SportsCenter??) But it's worth a note from time to time that this has never been done before.
OLD MAN GOT HIT
Khalil Mack is a frightening human being. His football card says he's 6-foot-3, 260 pounds. Feels like a low estimate, to be honest.
Anyways, Brady got around Wirfs to sack Brady in the third quarter, and then he went ahead and looked like a real life Captain America by dumping Wirfs to the turf.
Later in the third, Mack slammed Brady to the turf, drawing a penalty flag and inspiring Brady to lean over and scream in Mack's face.
Brady was also very lucky to avoid injury after this very low (and a little late) hit by Mario Edwards:
In a game where roughly 11,000 flags were thrown (including a flat-out bad roughing the passer penalty that bailed out Foles), that one oddly didn't lead to a call. That was costly, too, as the play resulted in a Ke'Shawn Vaughn fumble that led to the Bears' go-ahead touchdown.
BEST BUDS REUNITED
Rob Gronkowski loves Tom Brady as much as anybody loves anybody else in this cold, dark world. It's very sweet.
And with O.J. Howard suffering a season-ending injury on Sunday, Gronk knew that it was finally time to activate his superpowers. After Gronkowski had just nine catches for 88 yards in the Bucs' first four games, he delivered a three-catch, 52-yard performance vs. the Bears. He also had a 16-yard completion taken away due to an offensive pass interference penalty on Evans.
It wasn't a gaudy 11-catch, 153-yard, 2-TD performance like a 23-year-old Gronk could put forth. But for the first time in a long time, 87 looked like 87. That was about the only thing that made Brady smile on this night.
Tom Brady is the all-time leader in inspiring viewers at home around the country to disgustedly yell, "Wait ... WHO caught that pass?"
It happened last year on a Thursday night game, when Brady was throwing passes to Gunner Olszewski and Jakobi Myers. This year on a Thursday night, Tyler Johnson and Tanner Hudson filled that role.
THE QB SNEAK LIVES
Nobody's been better at running the quarterback sneak in the history of football than Tom Brady. That is a fact.
And he showed he's still got the secret juice when Bruce Arians rolled the dice and went for it on a fourth-and-1 at his own 19-yard line early in the second quarter.
ARIANS HAD BRADY'S BACK
Remember back in Week 1, when Bruce Arians blamed Brady for an interception, only to come back a day or two later and correct himself, noting that Evans was to blame?
It seems as though the coach is not playing the blame game anymore.
"Yeah, he knew," Arians said when asked if Brady knew what down it was on the final offensive play. "He knew."
But uhh ... also he didn't know.
You know that Brady will want to move on from this one as soon as he can. Because ... yikes.
And who's next on Tampa's schedule? Why it's Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
That'll make for some good television, one way or another.
ULTIMATE YEESH MOMENT
Make no mistake: Everything you just read and watched? It'll all be ignored by everyone. It's possible that you ignored it all, scrolling to the bottom to reach the final point. SHAME ON YOU! GIFs take time, you know.
Anyways. That was a colossal blunder by Brady. It's not that it was the lone reason the Buccaneers lost the game. It's certainly possible that the Bears would have ended up coming up with a fifth-down stop. The Bucs also committed 11 penalties for 109 yards and fumbled the ball in their own territory. Their execution was lacking.
It was not, overall, a championship performance.
Still ... STILL! Wow. Tom Brady with a choke in the clutch.
Only in 2020, people. Only in 2020.
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