By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- The Buccaneers expended a lot of effort this week to make sure they could put forth a solid performance in prime time. Struggling under the bright lights had been an issue of the team this year.
Alas, it remains an issue, as the Buccaneers fell flat in the second half en route to a 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.
While a number of issues -- dropped passes, bad penalties, and a porous secondary come to mind -- contributed to the loss, Tom Brady was nevertheless a major factor.
Overall, Brady was OK, completing 26 of his 48 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns against the league's top defense. But he threw a pair of interceptions in the second half that absolutely sunk the Bucs' chances of winning this one.
The first one was ugly. It came midway through the third quarter, with the game tied at 17-17. Brady felt the pressure of a collapsing pocket and blindly threw a ball to Chris Godwin, who was running a post.
The ball, though, never made it anywhere near Godwin, instead hitting safety Jordan Fuller directly between the 3 and 2 on his chest.
It wasn't the worst interception of Brady's career. But it certainly goes on the short list.
The Rams made that one hurt, too, as the offense followed up Fuller's 37-yard interception return with a five-play, 37-yard touchdown drive to take a 24-17 lead.
Later in the quarter, Brady benefited from a perhaaaaaps slightly questionable call on an "incomplete pass," thus saving the Bucs from another back-breaking turnover.
Alas, the relief was short-lived.
After the Rams kicked a field goal to take a 27-24 lead in the game's final minutes, the stage was set for another vintage game-winning drive from the GOAT. It ... did not go as planned.
Brady completed two passes -- a 7-yarder to Cameron Brate and a 12-yard completion to Chris Godwin -- before the two-minute warning. After the break, though, Brady threw incomplete to Antonio Brown on first down from the Tampa Bay 38-yard line. On second down, Brady decided to go for a deep ball up the right seam to Brate.
The pass was overthrown. Brate was never open, and the safety had it read the entire play.
The end result was yet another pick for Fuller.
"Just a bad read. Bad throw. Decision. Everything," Brady said after the 27-24 loss. "Can't happen."
That one was the killer, as the Rams were able to drain enough clock to punt the ball away and kill off the final nine seconds of the game. Brady and the offense never got the ball back, and the Rams won the game.
For the Bucs, the loss continues a troubling trend of failing to show up in prime-time games. The team is now 1-3 in night-time games, with the only victory being a 2-point win over the 3-7 Giants. The Buccaneers are 6-1 in games played in the afternoon.
With five touchdown passes and five interceptions, Brady has a 73.9 passer rating in his four prime-time games this year. He has a 108.3 passer rating in all other games, with 20 touchdowns and four interceptions.
BRADY IN AFTERNOON GAMES IN 2020
1,998 yards, 7.5 yards per attempt
20 TDs, 4 INTs
3 rushing TDs
108.3 passer rating
BRADY IN NIGHT GAMES IN 2020
957 yards, 5.7 yards per attempt
5 TDs, 5 INTs
0 rushing TDs
73.9 passer rating
This year in prime time, Brady has authored arguably the worst on-field gaffe of his career (forgetting what down it was in Chicago) and one of the very worst games of his entire career (a zero-TD, three-INT, 38-3 loss against the Saints two weeks ago). Monday's performance wasn't quite on that level, but those second-half interceptions were atypical -- to say the least -- for the greatest clutch performer the game has ever seen.
Clearly, the prime-time issues remain a problem, as Brady hurt the Bucs more than he helped them as they dropped to 7-4 on the season and drifted farther away from the top spot in the NFC postseason picture.
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