For so many years, Tom Brady was money with the ball in his hand in crunchtime.
Not so much now.
The latest example came with the game on the line on Monday night and Brady, the legend with six Super Bowl rings, overthrew Cameron Brate for, well, a “perfect” interception that landed in the arms of rookie safety Jordan Fuller.
Game over. Bucs lose again. The ghost of Jameis Winston haunts them again.
“Bad read,” Brady grumbled after the 27-24 setback to the Los Angeles Rams. “Bad throw. Bad decision. Everything.”
There was Brady, trying to explain what went wrong again. In this case, he saw the safety at the last second and, in trying to account for the sighting, sailed the ball. But even before that last fateful throw, nothing seemed automatic about Brady leading the Bucs to a last-minute victory (or even a game-tying score to set up overtime) given how rocky things were all night. Turns out that it was another prime-time deflation for Brady, which has become part of the deal since he joined the Bucs last spring and fueled all sorts of hope that a downtrodden franchise was poised to join the ranks of the contenders.
Hey, maybe they will make a playoff dash this season after all. The Bucs (7-4) will be hard-pressed to catch the New Orleans Saints (8-2) for the NFC South crown, but they are at least holding an NFC wild-card slot at the moment. That’s still significant progress for a franchise that hasn’t been in the playoffs for 13 years.
Yet with Brady in tow, merely reaching the postseason is not the objective.
Brady was brought to town to win the big games like the one on Monday night – and the big games like the upcoming showdown on Sunday against the defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Sure, the Bucs put a number on the Green Bay Packers a few weeks ago, and they went to Las Vegas and ran the tables on the Raiders. But they had that loss at Chicago when Brady apparently lost track of the downs at the finish. And they were swept by the Saints, including an embarrassing showing in prime time that also marked the worst-rated passing performance of Brady’s career.
No, it’s not all on Brady. Leonard Fournette kept dropping passes on Monday night. The protection was spotty. The Bucs’ secondary missed an abundance of tackles as receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp combined for 23 catches and 275 yards, while Jared Goff repeatedly burned the blitzes on a 376-yard night.
But Brady didn’t have his A-game, either.
Too bad, Tampa Bay. The TB12 hype has turned into a super-sized tease.