TAMPA, Fla. ( Associated Press) – Little has worked for Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.
Despite their struggles, they could repeat as NFC South champions and be guaranteed a home game in the postseason if they beat the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
“When you play for something big at the end of the year it always means something,” said coach Todd Bowles after the Bucs (7-8) maintained their division lead with a 19-game overtime win. ” to Arizona.
“You want to play good football in December and play meaningful games,” Bowles said. “Next week, they need it and we do too, so it’s going to be a good fight.
If the Bucs had not rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Cardinals, they would face possible elimination this week when they host Carolina, which won the previous meeting between the division rivals 21-3.
Now, a win over the Panthers (6-9) would lead the Bucs to back-to-back division titles for the first time in franchise history.
A loss won’t eliminate Tampa Bay, but Carolina will tie them in wins and be in position to clinch the division title for the first time since 2015 with a win next week in New Orleans.
“There’s a lot of resilience on this team,” acknowledged Brady, who bounced back from his poor game in which he allowed Arizona to lead 16–6 before tying it in the final minutes of regulation as the quarterback fumbled in overtime. capped off his 58th winning game.
Brady said, “We fought hard – 7-8, that’s not where we want to be.” “We have a chance to win the championship game next week.”
Does it work
The Bucs have struggled to run the ball consistently and rank last among the 32 teams. However, running back Leonard Fournette had a spark against Arizona, rushing for 72 yards and gaining another 90 on a team-high nine catches. Rookie Rachad White made the most of some opportunities, averaging 5 yards per carry on seven attempts, plus he caught four passes for 17 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Bucs, who are averaging a few points this season, had 396 yards of offense but produced just one touchdown against the Cardinals. He went 6 of 17 on third down, which has been typical for the team.