TAMPA- There’s no better way to end the regular season than with a victory.
The National Football League’s all-time completions leader and soon to probably be everything else when it comes to throwing the ball, Tom Brady, led the way like he has done all season long. Brady threw for a game-high 326 yards and three touchdowns as Tampa Bay rolled past NFC South foe Carolina 41-17 on Sunday night.
With the win and a Los Angeles Rams’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Buccaneers ended up securing the NFC Conference’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs and will host the No. 7 seeded Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild-Card Round. The game is slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. The Buccaneers defeated the Eagles during the regular season 28-22.
The win on Sunday came at a cost to another wide receiver being lost, as last week’s hero, Cyril Grayson, went down with a hamstring injury and ended up being out for the remainder of the game. His status for the playoffs is up in the air. Nonetheless, a couple of the big names really came through for Brady when he needed them the most.
Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski secured $1-million in incentives as he notched seven catches for 137 yards and averaged 19.6 yards per catch. Also having himself a big game was wide receiver Mike Evans, who nabbed six catches for 89 yards and scored two touchdowns. Breshard Perriman stepped up with five catches for 44 yards in the win.
After initially trailing 7-3, Tampa Bay’s offense kicked it into high gear in the 2-minute drill portion of the second half. Brady would connect with running back Le’Veon Bell for his first touchdown with the team to give the Buccaneers a 10-7 lead heading into intermission. The second half belonged to the Buccaneers, as they would end up outscoring the Panthers 24-10 and scored all 24 points in the final quarter.
Now the Buccaneers will begin their Super Bowl championship defense at home and will avoid playing the No. 1 seeded Green Bay Packers until the NFC Championship game round. Brady ended the regular season as the passing yards leader (5,316 yards) and in touchdowns (43).
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.