Tom Brady finds Mike Evans for 3 TDs as Bucs win NFC South

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers overcame two double-digit deficits to defeat the Carolina Panthers 30-24 Sunday, clinching the NFC South for the second straight 12 months and punching Tom Brady’s ticket to the playoffs for a 14th consecutive season and coach Todd Bowles’ first as head coach of the Buccaneers.

Getting ready to dropping his voice and desirous to deflect reward to his teammates, Brady gushed, “I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

Gamers wore crimson shirts that stated “CONQUERED THE SOUTH.” Apart from broad receiver Mike Evans. He had among the best video games of his profession with 10 catches for 207 receiving yards and three touchdowns and rocked a Carolina blue classic Michael Jordan North Carolina Tar Heels jersey, gifted to him by teammate Chris Godwin within the group’s Secret Santa alternate final week.

And Bowles, who joked, “My heart ain’t got much left” in any case these comebacks, stated he deliberate to have a good time not like his predecessor Bruce Arians with a bottle of Crown Royal (Arians was inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor Sunday), however with a glass of 1% milk and cookies.

“They didn’t get down and they didn’t get disgusted,” Bowles stated of his group. “We’ve been through a lot this year, so we have a lot of resiliency and strength, so we don’t get down when we get down scorewise. They buckled down, they stayed together as a team and they came through.”

The Bucs had not come again from a deficit of 14 factors or extra all through a season marred by sluggish begins and a nonexistent vertical passing recreation. And Brady and Mike Evans’ streak of video games with no landing had grown to 11 — the longest within the profession of the Bucs’ franchise receiving chief.

However after falling behind 14-0 on Sunday, three landing passes from Brady to Evans and three turnovers pressured by the protection made the distinction.

“Tom was just dropping dimes,” stated Evans, who seldom sees single protection however did so Sunday, whereas the offensive line had certainly one of its finest video games defending Brady all season, affording him extra time to throw and Evans extra time to get downfield. “Those were some really, really good balls. This was one of the best games I’ve seen Tom play since he’s been here.

“They have been like falling proper in my … within the breadbasket each time. He had an unbelievable recreation.”

Brady said of Evans, “I like taking part in on the market with him and he is a tremendous participant — I’ve missed him too many instances this 12 months, so it was good to attach with him and hopefully we will hold that going. I believe we are going to.”

The first touchdown was a 63-yarder airmailed to Evans. The score gave Evans 1,000 receiving yards for the ninth consecutive season, tied for second most in NFL history with Tim Brown and behind only Jerry Rice. That touchdown changed the momentum completely with 2:18 to go in the first half.

“I used to be telling him all all through the sport — he is that man,” Godwin said of Evans. “He would not get practically the respect he deserves, so any likelihood I get, I will communicate it for him as a result of I do know he will not do it. Mike is a canine, man. Each time he goes on the market, he is able to doing one thing like that. It is an honor for me to play subsequent to a man like that.”

Outside linebacker Devin White recovered a Sam Darnold fumble at the Carolina 17-yard line moments later, and the Bucs cut the Panthers’ lead to 14-10 with a 22-yard field goal from Ryan Succop.

Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting intercepted Darnold at the Tampa Bay 2 on the Panthers’ first drive of the second half, but on the Bucs’ ensuing drive, a 26-yard field goal attempt by Succop was blocked by CJ Henderson.

The Bucs slipped into a 21-10 deficit after Darnold threw a touchdown strike to Shi Smith to open the fourth quarter. But Brady responded immediately with a 57-yard heave to Evans — marking the first time since 2016 that the 45-year-old QB has thrown two 50-yard touchdowns in the same game. The score was followed by a failed 2-point conversion, cutting the Panthers’ lead to 21-16 with 13:49 to go.

Brady still wasn’t done finding his top receiver, as he connected with Evans for 30 yards on their third touchdown to give the Bucs the lead with 6:47 remaining. A successful 2-point conversion pass to Chris Godwin put Tampa Bay up 24-21.

A sack by outside linebacker Anthony Nelson caused a fumble that was then recovered by defensive tackle Vita Vea, setting up what would have been a touchdown by Leonard Fournette, though it was taken off the board after it was ruled that he was a yard short. That’s when Brady punched in a quarterback sneak from the goal line with two minutes left, prompting “Brady! Brady! Brady!” chants from the crowd.

“It is virtually like a sick joke since you’re simply sitting on the sideline 14-0 and you are like, ‘(No.) 12 will do one thing. He’ll determine it out,'” Nelson said. “And finally, possibly it is not that quarter, it is a quarter later — he begins making a pair performs, it is tied up, it is a shut recreation once more, and that basically motivates us as a protection as a result of we all know, even when it is 14-0, if we will maintain ’em, (No.) 12 and the offense will get us again within the recreation.”

Carolina added a field goal with 59 seconds left to make it 30-24, and the Bucs narrowly avoided what could have been disaster had it not been for the quick thinking of rookie punter Jake Camarda, who recovered a low snap that hit the ground, tucked it and ran with it and punted 41 yards as opposed to merely falling on it, which would have given the Panthers prime field position at the Bucs’ 40. Instead, the Bucs were flagged for an ineligible downfield kick and Camarda executed a 41-yard punt on the next play.

“I’ve by no means seen a punter make an athletic play like that,” Bowles said. “He did a heck of a job down there.”

Sunday marked the first win for the Bucs in the eight games this season in which they have surrendered 20 or more points to the opposition.

Brady and the Bucs still have one game remaining at the Atlanta Falcons next week, but their playoff position is solidified no matter what. By winning the division, they will host the first round of the playoffs, against either the Philadelphia Eagles or the Dallas Cowboys.

No decision has been made yet as to whether Brady will play or not next week in an effort to avoid unnecessary risk, but Brady indicated that he would prefer to.

“It is at all times as much as Coach, however yeah, (not taking part in) would hassle me. I have not missed a recreation aside from my ACL (damage) … after which in 2016, I missed the primary 4 video games. Aside from that, I’ve performed all of them,” Brady said, referring to his four-game suspension after an NFL investigation determined that he had been “at the least typically conscious” of the New England Patriots deflating footballs the previous season.

After a long pause, he smiled and said, “I used to be being well mannered there,” with the room full of reporters erupting in laughter. “It takes rather a lot for me to be well mannered.”