Undefeated in his career against the Cowboys heading into Monday, Tom Brady struggled in what could be the final game of his NFL career as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to Dallas 31-14 on Monday night in a game that was never really all that close.
Outplayed by Dak Prescott, Brady threw his first red-zone interception in three seasons with the Bucs on second and goal at the Dallas 5-yard line early in the second quarter to end any shot Tampa had at making it a game. That didn’t stop the 45-year-old from trying as he attempted a career-high 66 passes, completing 35 of them for 351 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for the seven-time Super Bowl winner, it wasn’t nearly enough.
Following the game, Brady, who will be a free agent in March, was asked what his future holds. “It’ll be one day at a time, truly,” he said. Then, in a departure from normalcy, Brady thanked the assembled media in Tampa for their efforts, a gesture that certainly seemed to indicate he doesn’t anticipate being back with the Bucs.
“I just want to say thank you to you guys for everything this year,” Brady said. “I really appreciate all your effort. And I know it’s hard for you guys, too. It’s hard for us players to make it through and you guys got a tough job…I love everyone for welcoming me, all you regulars. And just very grateful for the respect and I hope I gave the same thing back to you guys. So thank you very much.”
Those sound like the words of a player who was saying goodbye to Tampa Bay, if not football altogether. That being said, it’s hard to see Brady walking away on such a down note and ending his playing career with a first-round playoff loss. That’s how Brady’s career in New England ended — then he won the Super Bowl the following season. While it’s hard to see that pattern repeating itself, it is unwise to rule out anything when it comes to the former sixth-round pick and there are many different scenarios, including signing with the Raiders to reunite with Josh McDaniels or completing the previous plan to quarterback the Miami Dolphins, in play. The only thing that doesn’t seem possible is Brady returning to Tampa for a fourth season as his time in Florida always seemed as if destined to run out. With Monday’s loss to the Cowboys, it almost certainly has.
As Brady figures out his future and Bucs wait in limbo, life in the NFL moves on as the journey to next month’s Super Bowl continues. The Cowboys are on their way to play the 49ers in Santa Clara on Sunday. Hopefully, it will be a better game than what we saw on Monday night.