Brady sets sights on Eagles as records tumble for Bucs in Week 18

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  • Tom Brady
    Tom Brady

Tom Brady was thrilled to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claim the number two seed in the NFC as he set his sights on the playoffs after reaching a host of new landmarks in Week 18.

The defending Super Bowl champions responded to a turbulent week following the release of Antonio Brown with a comprehensive 41-17 home win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

It meant the Bucs finished at 13-4, a franchise record for victories, and were 7-1 at home, their overall record tying that of the Green Bay Packers for the best in the NFL.

The win, coupled with a defeat for the Los Angeles Rams against the San Francisco 49ers, meant the Bucs improved their seeding in the last game of the season.

While some teams opted to rest their star players going into the playoffs, Brady stayed on the field until the fourth quarter, completing 29 of 37 passes for three touchdowns.

The quarterback's 5,316 passing yards for the 2021 season is his best career total – and the third-highest tally ever recorded in NFL history - while his 43 TDs for the year set a new Bucs record.

Brady became only the second QB in history, along with Drew Brees, to have multiple 5,000-yard seasons.

He also broke a record previously held by Brees (471 in 2016) for the most pass completions in a season, finishing up with 485.

With history made, Brady will now set his sights on the Bucs repeating as Super Bowl champions, which would give him a historic eighth world title if achieved.

They start against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Round, and moving ahead of the Rams means they would also be at home in the Divisional Round should they progress.

"In the end it's a great achievement to get the two-seed and it just felt good to win," said Brady.

"With other teams, you can't ever control any of those things. Even thinking ahead for the next game [in the playoffs] – you are worrying about two games from now.

"Even if the Rams had won, I'm not worried about two games from now, I'm worried about one game from now, which is the Eagles.

"We've still got the Eagles and that's going to be the biggest game of our season. If we win, whoever we play, wherever we play, we are still going, and that's what we want to do."

On the win over the Panthers, he added: "We got off to a little bit of a rough start but we found a way to get some rhythm, and when we do that it's pretty good.

"We did a good job of taking care of the football, did a good job with penalties, good job in the red area, good job on third downs. We're going to have to keep it going."

Brady was not the only Bucs player to reach a significant milestone in Week 18.

Wide receiver Mike Evans (six catches for 89 yards and two TDs) extended his own record for the most consecutive seasons (eight) with at least 1,000 receiving yards to begin a career in the NFL.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had seven catches for 137 yards, now has 32 career games with 100+ receiving yards, meaning he now stands alone above Tony Gonzalez atop the all-time list for his position.

Gronkowski had equalled Gonzalez last week and this was the first time since Weeks 5-6 in the 2016 season that he recorded back-to-back 100-yard games.

It is a timely run of form with star wideout Chris Godwin out injured and Brown no longer on the team.

"It's amazing the records [they set]," added Bucs coach Bruce Arians. "It seemed like there were five or six records every week.

"Thirteen wins and it hasn't been easy. We've had a lot of guys down all season so I can't say enough about our front office having a great roster."

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