TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady overcame a first-half pick-six and a 17-point deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday 38-31, giving him the fifth-largest comeback in his career.
It was also the Bucs’ second-largest comeback in franchise history, behind a 21-point comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008.
For the 43-year-old Brady, it was his biggest comeback since overcoming a 28-3 deficit in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. He finished 30-of-46 for 369 passing yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
Brady and the Bucs’ offense had gotten off to an explosive start the past two weeks, scoring 43 total points in the first half and fizzling in the second with just 13 points. This week, after trailing 24-7 in the first half, the Bucs scored four touchdowns in the final 30:28 to win and improve to 3-1.
Prior to Sunday, the Bucs had lost 42 consecutive games when trailing by 17 or more points, with their last such win coming in 2011, Week 2 at the Minnesota Vikings.
With 4:08 to go in the first quarter, Brady attempted to find Justin Watson on an out route but was instead intercepted by cornerback Michael Davis, who returned it 78 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-7 Chargers. It was a double out route — a play conceptually similar to one that resulted in a pick-six against the New Orleans Saints on a pass also intended for Watson.
Brady’s scoring surge began with a fumble recovered by Devin White on a botched handoff from Herbert to Joshua Kelley. It was recovered at the Chargers’ 6-yard line, setting up a leaping 6-yard touchdown grab by Mike Evans with :28 to go in the second quarter to make it 24-14.
With 8:30 to go in the third quarter, on second-and-8 with four receivers lined up in four verticals, Brady hit O.J. Howard on a seam route working against Kyzir White for a 28-yard touchdown to make it 24-21.
Next came a 44-yard bomb to Scotty Miller, followed by a 19-yard touchdown pass to Miller on a crossing route to make it 28-24 and gain the lead. Then with 12:51 to go in the fourth quarter, on third-and-20, Brady connected with Evans — who was working against Casey Hayward Jr. — on a 48-yard pass along the right sideline, setting up a 9-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn to make it 35-31.
A complete game still eludes Brady’s Bucs. The defense also had one of its worst performances of the season against a rookie QB — albeit a very good one — and a Chargers squad decimated by injuries, although the Bucs’ injuries started to pile up too. Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette did not play due to hamstring and ankle injuries. Evans left to have his ankle X-rayed but returned. LeSean McCoy left with an ankle injury.
Kick returner Kenjon Barner also left with a concussion. And they lost Howard in the fourth quarter with an Achilles injury.
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