Monday, January 18, 2021

The third time was the charm

 Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady had already suffered the indignity of losing twice to the same divisional opponent this season, his first in the NFC. He didn't want it to happen three times.

Sunday, Brady was on his favorite stage, in the postseason, on national television, determined to make sure he didn't lose to New Orleans for the third time. The adjustments that coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles made after the Saints had swept Tampa in the regular season paid off handsomely. Drew Brees may have played his last game in New Orleans, if not forever, limited to 135 yards passing with 1 TD and, most tellingly, 3 interceptions.

Brady's goal, obviously, is to prove he could win another Super Bowl without his former coach in New England, Bill Belichick. As of this morning, he's halfway there. Leonard Fournette and the defense made sure of that as the Buccaneers advanced to the NFC title game with a 30-20 win over the Saints. Brady, like Aaron Rodgers on Saturday, ran for a score. His 4th quarter TD put the game away with about 4 1/2 minutes left.

While the Patriots are contemplating what might've been, and Belichick turned down a Congressional Medal of Freedom from President Trump, who was handing out medals just because he could, Brady had problems adjusting to the NFC early on. In the days in between beating the Washington Deviants and the Saints, Brady reportedly was open to returning to Tampa Bay next season.

However, should Tampa Bay fall in the frozen tundra in Green Bay, then Brady will be hearing the same questions that Brees is hearing now. Will he retire?

The highlights come from the NFL's YouTube channel:

After 15 seasons in New Orleans, Brees, who started his career with the then-San Diego Chargers after being drafted out of Purdue University, has been talking about retirement. He's just a year younger than Brady, having just turned 42 on Friday. If he does, New Orleans does have Taysom Hill, who performed admirably in Brees' absence earlier this season, and Jameis Winston, who found new life in N'awlins after leaving Tampa as a free agent. It was Winston who put the Saints in the end zone in the 2nd quarter on a trick play with Hill unavailable due to injury. Still, coach Sean Payton & Saints management may consider drafting another QB to be safe.
Less than 24 hours after the Buffalo Bills had literally knocked Lamar Jackson out of the playoffs, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes found himself on the sidelines with a concussion, and Chad Henne, the former Dolphins & Jaguars QB, given a chance on the big stage for a change, made sure the defending champions would return to the AFC championship game.

Facing 3rd & 14 late in the 4th quarter, Henne ran for 13 yards. Then, on 4th & 1, Henne threw a 2 yard pass to Tyreek Hill to lock down the Cleveland Browns. One kneel-down later, the Chiefs had secured a 22-17 win.

Mahomes is in the concussion protocol, and has to go through five stages in order to be cleared to play next Sunday vs. Buffalo. If he's not ready by Saturday, 24 hours before game time, it may be Henne, who, like Tom Brady, played his college ball at Michigan, who would have to face the Bills.

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