Sunday October 17th, 2021 12:28PM

Tom Brady excited, ready to lead Buccaneers into playoffs

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New team, same ole Tom Brady.

The six-time Super Bowl champion who left New England for sunny Florida is in the playoffs for a NFL-record 18th time in 21 years, and eager to build on an ever-expanding legacy in his first postseason appearance with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots are home watching following a historic two-decade run with the 43-year-old quarterback, who’s now pumping vitality into a franchise with the worst all-time winning percentage in the four major professional sports.

Brady led New England to the Super Bowl nine times in 20 seasons, appearing in 41 playoff games and winning 30 — both records.

The Bucs, who will end a 13-year postseason drought when they face Washington in a NFC wild-card game Saturday night, have played 15 playoff games in the club’s 45-season history.

“Anytime you make the playoffs, it’s a good feeling, and it’s a good opportunity to be playing this weekend, a privilege for any of us,” Brady said Wednesday.

“We’re a team that’s made a bunch of improvements over the course of the year, and we have to be at our best. That’s what this part of the season is all about,” the three-time league MVP added. “The regular season is what it is. You realize you put it in the books, but we’re here to win playoff games.”

Brady left New England in free agency, signing a two-year, $50 million contract with the Bucs, who’ve surrounded him with an All-Star cast of playmakers that includes receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, tight end Rob Gronkowski and running backs Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette.

An improved defense has helped Brady continue to defy Father Time, too.

“It’s amazing because when you’re out there watching him in practice, you’re like, ‘This guy looks like he’s 30, maybe 33 at most,’" coach Bruce Arians said.

"It’s just amazing watching him and the way he works so hard at taking care of himself. That’s not easy at 43, taking a few shots — hopefully not too many — and moving on. ... He really is a freak of nature in that regard.”

It’s never been Brady’s style to call attention to his accomplishments, so he lets his play speak for what he’s been able to do this season without benefit of a normal offseason or preseason to prepare for his transition to a new team.

With a franchise-record 40 touchdown passes, he joined Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Dan Marino as the only quarterbacks to throw at least 40 in multiple seasons. It also tied Russell Wilson for the second most in the league this year behind’s Rodgers’ 48.

“When he first signed I said, ‘OK, we’ll be a 40 (touchdown) and 10 (interception) team,’” Arians said. “I was expecting practice, I was expecting OTAs and those things. What he’s done with none of that — especially this last half of the season — is incredible.”

Brady enters the playoffs coming off throwing for 1,067 yards and 10 touchdowns over the last eight quarters he played. He rallied the Bucs from double-digit deficits to win four times this season and has thrown for at least two TDs in seven consecutive games.

“As a player, he really hasn’t changed,” Gronkowski, the quarterback’s favorite target in New England, said. “From the second I first met him, he’s been all-in — all-in with practices, all-in at meetings, all-in trying to get better every single day.”

In some ways, Brady has exceeded Arians’ expectations.

“His leadership is beyond anything I’ve ever seen. Peyton Manning is the only thing close,” said Arians, who’s worked with Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and Andrew Luck while establishing a reputation as a quarterback whisperer.

“It’s a never-ending thing with him, the perfectionist, to get everything right in practice,” Arians added. “Also, his calmness on the sideline in games when we’re not winning, saying ‘We’re going to win.’ Those type of things. You put those in a bottle and you make a bunch of money.”

It hasn’t been all rosy, though.

While the Bucs went 10-0 against teams that failed to make the playoffs, they were 1-5 against opponents that earned berths. Brady had 10 touchdown passes and nine interceptions in the losses.

When Arians, who doesn’t sugarcoat his assessment of quarterbacks, spoke publicly about Brady’s early inconsistency many wondered if there was a rift developing between player and coach.

A four-game winning streak to end the regular season put that notion to rest.

“I feel like we have a great relationship. From the moment I got here, we’ve just had great dialogue and I certainly appreciate all the insight he gives me and the way he coaches and leads,” Brady said.

“It’s very open, honest dialogue about how we think, certainly how I can be most effective,” Brady added. “Any questions he has, we always have a great, open line of communication. I really enjoy my time getting to know him, and I have great admiration for him as a coach, as a man, as what he is off the field and how he commands and leads the team.”

Arians said there was never a problem.

“The chemistry really started in our first meeting. We first started talking offensive football and then the Tampa Bay Bucs. His excitement level and my excitement level just kept growing and is still growing,” Arians said.

“We’re still learning each and every week the little things, the game plans and situational football that we talk out,” the coach added. “The collaboration has been awesome and like I’ve said, it’s our job to keep him healthy, keep him upright and let him do his thing.”


More AP NFL: and

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Pro-Trump mob storms US Capitol in bid to overturn election
 A violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump have stormed the U.S. Capitol and forced lawmakers into hiding
7:05PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Tom Brady excited, ready to lead Buccaneers into playoffs
New team, same ole Tom Brady
7:04PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Protesters swarm Statehouses across US; some evacuated
Protesters who back President Donald Trump have massed at statehouses from Georgia to New Mexico
7:02PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Bama's Waddle back practicing, status for title game unclear
Alabama star receiver Jaylen Waddle has returned to practice but it's not clear yet whether he will play in Monday night's national championship game against Ohio State
5:40PM ( 1 hour ago )
Browns' Stefanski: 'We've got to find a way' vs Steelers
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski says he feels well despite contracting COVID-19, but that he's obviously disappointed he'll have to miss Sunday's playoff game in Pittsburgh
5:22PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Pro-Trump demonstrators swarm capitals across US
Pro-Trump demonstrators have massed outside statehouses across the country, forcing evacuations in at least two states
5:09PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
The Latest: No. 7 Arizona women's basketball game postponed
The seventh-ranked Arizona women’s basketball game at Washington scheduled for Friday has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Huskies program
2:36PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Patriot League postpones 2 men's hoops games
The Patriot League men’s basketball games between American and Lehigh scheduled for Saturday and Sunday have been postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test within American’s Tier 1 personnel
1:38PM ( 5 hours ago )
Stefanski: 'We've got to find a way' despite COVID-19 issues
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski says he feels well despite contracting COVID-19, but that he's obviously disappointed he'll have to miss Sunday's playoff game in Pittsburgh
12:53PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Football
New 7th seed helps Bears 8 years too late for Lovie Smith
While Matt Nagy gets to coach Chicago in the playoffs despite a middling 8-8 record that could help save his job, former Bears coach Lovie Smith can only wonder if the extra team in the postseason could have helped him eight years ago
2:40AM ( 16 hours ago )
LA Rams' top-ranked defense still rolling as playoffs loom
The Los Angeles Rams had the franchise's first top-ranked NFL defense in decades
9:30PM ( 21 hours ago )
Georgia QB Daniels coming back; DE Herring, C Hill NFL bound
Georgia quarterback JT Daniels says he's returning for another year between the hedges
7:51PM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Sports - NFL
Protesters swarm Statehouses across US; some evacuated
Protesters who back President Donald Trump have massed at statehouses from Georgia to New Mexico
7:02PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Governors scramble to speed vaccine effort after slow start
New York’s governor is threatening to fine hospitals that don’t use their allotment of COVID-19 vaccine fast enough
6:59PM ( 16 minutes ago )
The Latest: Pelosi says Congress to resume once Capitol safe
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress will resume the Electoral College proceedings once the Capitol is cleared of pro-Donald Trump protesters and safe for use
6:56PM ( 19 minutes ago )
The Latest: Pro-Trump protesters remain out after DC curfew
Dozens of pro-Trump protesters remain on the streets of the nation’s capital in defiance of the curfew imposed after rioters stormed the Capitol
6:48PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Masters behind him, Johnson ready to keep going in new year
Dustin Johnson is loving his new title as Masters champion
6:41PM ( 34 minutes ago )