TAMPA, Fla. ( Associated Press) – Tom Brady still has the ability to pull off the impossible.
The seven-time Super Bowl champions have an NFL-record 44 falling yards in the fourth quarter, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers avoided falling two games below .500 and relegated the team to the NFL South.
It could turn out to be a game-winner for the Bucs (6-6) ahead of a tough two-game series. This week they travel to face NFC West leader San Francisco, and next weekend they host American Conference champion Cincinnati.
Brady almost went without a touchdown pass at home against the Saints for the third straight year until he threw a pair of touchdown passes in the final three minutes of a 17-16 loss to New Orleans on Monday.
It was the second time in a month the 45-year-old quarterback came from 3 1/2 bad quarters to lead a game-winning play in the final seconds. The Bucs defeated the Los Angeles Rams 16–13 on November 6.
“In the NFL you are not going to win by beating the majority. We won a lot of close games when we won the Super Bowl (two years ago),” coach Todd Bowles said Tuesday and the confidence will increase.
Brady tied Peyton Manning for the most fourth quarter darts in NFL history. It was the 56th time he led a game-winning game in the fourth quarter or overtime – another league record – as well as the 40th time he overcame a deficit of 10 or more points to win.
Despite missing three starters from the secondary due to injury, the defense held the Saints to one touchdown. The ability to force Andy Dalton into three-play field goals in Tampa Bay territory allowed the Bucs to hold off until Brady made the offense work.
The Bucs averaged only 18 points per game. He participated in the regular season series against the division rival Saints, but did not score a touchdown in either game until the fourth quarter.