The Buccaneers’ Sunday afternoon clash with the 49ers was billed as Tom Brady’s homecoming to the Bay Area. It ended as one of the most humbling games of Brady’s career.
Tampa Bay was dismantled 35-7 in Santa Clara, with Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy outdueling the San Mateo native Brady in the third-worst loss of Brady’s NFL career, dropping Tampa Bay to 6-7 on the year.
“They kicked our a—,” Brady said after the loss. “The reality of the sport and every time you take the field, you have the opportunity to get your a— kicked or to kick a—. And obviously we were on the wrong end of it today.”
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Little went right for Brady and the Buccaneers on Sunday. Brady completed 33 of 55 passes for 253 yards (4.6 yards per attempt) with one touchdown and two interceptions. The running game averaged 3.6 yards on 19 carries and the offense had 18 first downs total. Tampa Bay was outgained 404-322.
San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey gashed the Bucs’ defense with 119 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and Purdy on 16 of 21 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL start.
The Buccaneers also committed eight penalties for 62 yards.
Tampa Bay was in a bad spot from the beginning. San Francisco scored touchdowns on three of its first four drives to take a 21-0 lead. It led 28-0 at the half. In that first half, Tampa Bay a missed field goal attempt, had a turnover on downs and punted after three three-and-outs.
“All year, we never get off to fast starts. We’re behind and it turns into a pass-a-thon and it’s hard to play football like that,” Brady said. “They made a bunch of plays, offensively and defensively and special teams, and we didn’t make many offensive, we didn’t make many defense, we didn’t make many on special teams. You win because you make plays. You keep them from making plays. They make plays and they keep you from making plays, you lose by 28 points.”
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Brady said the issue is a lack of consistency. He said the whole team has to play better and that it has not played well for a full four quarters all season.
“We just have not played consistently well very often,” Brady said. “We haven’t played it for four quarters, we played it a little bit. At times, not today at all, but some games, we played well for five minutes and don’t play well for 55 minutes. Some games we played pretty well for half, you know, we just have not played consistently well for a game.”
The Buccaneers remain in first place in the NFC South despite falling to 6-7, but the margin continues to shrink, and their road the rest of the season doesn’t get easier. The Buccaneers host the red-hot Bengals next week and travel to the Cardinals on Christmas before ending the season with games against the Panthers and Falcons.
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FiveThirtyEight gives Tampa Bay a 74 percent chance to make the postseason — almost entirely contingent on winning the division, as is shown with the 73 percent chance to win the South — but if Tampa Bay wants to keep its Super Bowl hopes alive, it will need to put this latest loss in the rearview mirror quickly and turn its season around.
“Last week doesn’t affect today. Today won’t affect next week. Next week will be its own individual outcome and performance, and it will be based on what we do this week as we prepare for, and then ultimately for the three hours that we play,” Brady said.