NFL: Buccaneers end 13-year play-offs absence, Dolphins stay alive
Tom Brady threw four touchdowns as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the post-season for the first time in 13 years, while the Miami Dolphins are still in contention.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached the NFL play-offs for the first time since 2007 on Saturday, with Tom Brady proving the star of the show.
Buccaneers quarterback Brady threw four touchdowns to fuel Tampa Bay's drought-ending 47-7 rout of the lowly Detroit Lions.
Ryan Fitzpatrick came off the bench to lead the play-off-chasing Miami Dolphins' wild victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, while the San Francisco 49ers stunned the Arizona Cardinals.
BRADY'S BUCS BOOK PLAY-OFF BERTH
Six-time Super Bowl champion Brady threw four touchdowns as he reset the single-season franchise high for passing TDs with 36, surpassing former number one pick Jameis Winston's record of 33 posted last season.
Brady produced the best first half of his illustrious career, completing 22 of 27 passes for 348 yards away to the Lions in Detroit, having eclipsed his own record of 340-plus passing yards, four-plus TDs and no interceptions in a single half set with the New England Patriots in 2009.
The 43-year-old superstar became the only NFL player in history to play for 20-plus seasons with one team – the Patriots – and later make the play-offs with another, per NFL Research. Brady is also the first player in the league's history to reach the playoffs in 12 consecutive seasons.
Brady, who was replaced by Blaine Gabbert at the start of the third quarter, also became just the fourth non-specialist to play in 300 regular-season games and the 12th player in NFL history to achieve the feat.
Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski recorded two touchdowns apiece for the Bucs (10-5), while Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown also finished with TDs against the Lions.
DOLPHINS REMAIN IN HUNT AS RAIDERS BOW OUT
Miami's hopes of advancing to the play-offs are still alive after prevailing 26-25 in a thrilling clash with the Raiders.
The Dolphins (10-5) eliminated the Raiders (7-8) from post-season contention with Jason Sanders' last second 44-yard field goal, after Fitzpatrick had put Miami in position.
Daniel Carlson's field goal had put the Raiders ahead 25-23 with 23 seconds remaining, after Fitzpatrick replaced Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa and threw a 59-yard pass to Myles Gaskin as the clock ticked under three minutes.
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores benched Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter and his decision to introduce Fitzpatrick proved a masterstroke – the veteran nine of 13 for 182 yards and a touchdown.
Tagovailoa was largely ineffective after finishing 17-of-22 passing for 94 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, while Raiders counterpart Derek Carr was 21 of 34 for 336 yards and a TD.
CARDINALS' PLAYOFF HOPES DEALT BLOW BY BEATHARD AND 49ERS
The injury-hit 49ers took down the Cardinals 20-12 thanks to third-string quarterback CJ Beathard, who threw three touchdown passes.
San Francisco – already out of the post-season picture – left Arizona's play-off hopes up in the air after Beathard starred in his first start since 2018 and unheralded running back Jeff Wilson ran for 183 yards.
Beathard completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards for the 49ers (6-9) as the Cardinals (8-7) no longer control their own destiny in the race for the post-season.
The Cardinals' were also left sweating over the fitness of quarterback Kyler Murray, who hurt his leg in the defeat.
"Hurt his leg, so he's getting examined right now," Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury said.