I'm going to make this - relatively speaking for me anyway - short and sweet. I've got a major postmortem to do on the Patriots loss to do in the morning. And frankly, there's not a ton to go over here. At least nothing at all like some of these Tompa Bay Bucs games like last week, where the story line was all about how the least disciplined and mistake prone team in the NFL had begun to undermine the most disciplined, prepared and detail oriented quarterback of all time to the point he was catching their cooties like the 'Rona and forgetting what down they were on. For a while, this was looking like a continuation of that same dynamic. And a 3-3 start to the season was not only very much in play, it seemed inevitable.
With half a minute into the 1st quarter, Tampa was starting its second drive. The first ended with a 3 & out. And with Tom Brady shrieking at his offense like he owned water front property on Cape Cod and they were walking a dog on his beach. A couple of 1st downs, one thanks to Chris Godwin spinning away from a tackle and picking up yards and the next on an out route by Chris Evans and Brady seemed to be settling in. But then he missed Rob Gronkowski who was covered by a corner who had safety help and an overthrow of Godwin who seemed to stutter step coming out of his break and Brady was tearing into everyone again, down 10-0. Followed by a 29-yard Tampa punt.
I have to admit, coming off a Patriots loss, seeing the Buccaneers driving the GOAT insane wasn't going to solve all my problems. But it was going to help a little. I admit I've beaten the whole "my ex who dumped me" metaphor into the ground. And will probably continue to do so. Right now, as a matter of fact. It's human nature to hope the person who didn't need you in their life anymore regrets their decision. No one wants to be replaced with someone better than us. Especially when we're having struggles of our own.
But then there's that special circumstance when that ex is going up against someone who made our lives miserable. The cool kid who got all the preferential treatment. That's what today was. Maybe Brady decided he was too cool for us, but we've got more history with him than any fan base ever had with anyone. And for a decade at least, Aaron Rodgers was our Regina George. That makes him Cady Heron. And watching Rodgers continue to be anointed the 2020 MVP while Brady Heron struggled, should have made even the most jaded Patriots fan revert back to their default setting of wanting to see him reestablish who the better QB is. And that wasn't happening well into into the 2nd.
Until almost instantly, "Freaky Friday"-style, the Buccaneers and Packers switched bodies. (OK, that's two Lindsey Lohan movie references, which is enough for one short post. I've bagged my limit and if I think of another, I promise I'll throw it back.) The whole game flipped on a three pass sequence in which Rodgers made the interception easy to the point it almost would've been impolite for Jamel Dean to refuse the Pick-6 gift. Then he stared down Davante Adams until Mike Edwards couldn't avoid the pick if he had the Rodgers-Adams hookup in Fantasy and his week depended on it.
From there, the Packers simply got shook so bad they couldn't come unshook. And it was the Bucs who flat out refused to make mistakes. Gronk made a 13 yard catch and run on a zone blitz because he and Brady both quickly realized the Packers had dropped 304 lb defensive tackle Montravius Adams into coverage on him. Brady then picked up six on 3rd & 5 with Rashan Gary's finger in his beautiful eye. Then, with his eye watering, up a 1st & goal by hitting LeSean McCoy in the flat. Finally, on 3rd & goal, he caught a knuckleball snap that was low and inside to the righthanded hitter, stepped up in the pocket, slid to his left and hit Tyler Johnson running along the endline, his favorite spot to look on 3rd down in field goal range. I keep saying it this year, but that's vintage Brady.
Still, that was the biggest missed opportunity of the season. Not just for Tampa, but for humanity. Because I still believe a vial of Brady tears would cure Covid. Next time he gets jabbed in the eye or thinks about how he got passed over in 2000, someone be ready.
What more can you say about Gronk other than, while might not have looked like 2017 Gronk and probably never will again, he did show flashes of early 2018 Gronk. His first touchdown in Tampa was the sort of athleticism I think we all thought he left in Mojo Rawley's corner. He caught a perfectly lofted Brady pass in the middle of an equilateral triangle of defenders on a deep crossing pattern for 18. Then followed it by setting the edge for Ronald Jones Jr. to pick up 20+. It might be an outlier because he has disappeared for long stretches this year. But flashes of brilliance are still brilliance.
The bottom line is that this is exactly the kind of game Brady made his reputation on. Not by putting up Madden numbers. But by orchestrating a blowout win with pedestrian stats (166 passing yards), but with error free football (0 INTs), clutch throws (2 TDs), leadership (no stupid penalties on either side of the ball for the Bucs), and taking a seat on the bench in the 4th quarter of a blowout win. Simply put, he was better than Rodgers by an order of magnitude. Like he has been for his entire career.
I'm going to truly despise diving into the Patriots game after this.