BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Tom Brady’s game-winning drive with 15 seconds left that gave the Super Bowl defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 28-24 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium was overlooked.
So was Zach Wilson’s productive day that included a touchdown for 234 yards on 19 of 33 passing. He threw the ball with precision for most of this game, including executing six third downs, which should be encouraging for the Jets moving forward.
Troubled Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown turned out to be the story of this game. He walked out on the team in the third quarter for the only reason he knows. He left the stadium during the game, and he received an Uber ride to the airport on his way home through a commercial flight presumably.
This is a shame because this should be about Brady’s likely last game against the New York Jets. He is 31-8 against Gang Green in what should be his Hall of Fame career. If this was his last game, he made it a memorable one. Of course, he did. That’s how he is the greatest of all time, and he specializes in beating the Jets.
Remember it was the Jets that started Brady’s NFL career. On Sept. 23, 2001, Jets linebacker Mo Lewis leveled Patriots starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe with 5:03 in the game that caused the late Dick Enberg to say “Oh My!”. As you know, the rest is history. Brady collected seven Super Bowl rings, and he is going for his eighth this season. At 44, there’s no reason to think he will be retiring.
The next time the Jets face the Buccaneers is four years from now unless Brady plays for some other team that the Jets can face sooner rather than later. Maybe he can play at 48. His goal is to play until he is 50, and with his play and determination, who is anyone to doubt him? Maybe this may not be the last time.
But in the case he is gone before the Jets play the Buccaneers, he sure left the Jets and their fans with another everlasting memory of his highlight reel at the Jets’ expense.
It all started when the Jets coaching staff decided to go for it at 4th down rather than take the points by kicking the field goal. Wilson ran a quarterback sneak that did not fool the Bucs. He was stuffed on fourth-and-2 at the Bucs’ 7-yard line. Going for it was fine, but the play call of him sneaking wasn’t. It seemed like Wilson forced the issue rather than let the game come to him on that spot. The coaching staff wanted Wilson to throw to Braxton Berrios on that spot.
This gave Brady an opening right there. Understandably, Jets fans were worried. They know where he shines. With 2:11 to go in the game, this was plenty of time for Brady to execute a game-winning drive.
Once Brady threw a 10-yard pass to Cyril Grayson to the Jets 33, the Jets fans knew this would not end well. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, he threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Grayson with 15 seconds remaining, and then the Bucs executed a two-point conversion on former Jet Le’Veon Bell’s run.
It took a nine-play, 93-yard drive for Brady to complete this comeback and deny the Jets of a victory. For most of the game, the Jets outplayed the Bucs. At one point, they led 24-10 in the third quarter. It would have been a victory for the Jets fans to be proud of had they held on, but it was not meant to be.
Of course, it was not meant to be. Brady was determined not to lose to the Jets based on his fiery personality that he displayed all game when things did not go his way early on. It’s what makes him special. I certainly enjoyed rooting for him now that he is not playing for the hated New England Patriots anymore.
There’s no debate anymore about him being the greatest of all time. For him to play at his age and still win, there’s all you need to know. Sunday was just another day in the office for him.
Jets fans knew better than to bet against him on this Sunday. Football fans know better to bet against him come playoff time.
The Buccaneers have a chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions because of Brady. They should be the favorite until he is finally beaten in the playoffs.
The Jets and their fans know it the hard way on Sunday.
They also likely know Brady will be back in four years to create another moment at their expense.