The Bucs have a big hill to climb

For all of the outstanding accomplishments Tom Brady has actually managed in his profession, a Super Bowl repeat this season would be really high up on the list. 

Brady dragged the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a win on a day that will be kept in mind for Antonio Brown unexpectedly leaving the field, probably completing his NFL profession. The Brown circumstance is something that is most likely to cost the Bucs a lot the remainder of the method. We’ll get to Brown, who Bruce Arians stated is no longer on the Buccaneers, in a minute.

The Buccaneers were beat for the majority of Sunday’s video game by the New york city Jets. However the Bucs got a fourth-down stop late in the video game and Brady went to work. He drove the Buccaneers downfield in the final minute and then hit Cyril Grayson (who?) on a beautiful pass in the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown and a dramatic 28-24 win. It was amazing throw by an all-time great. That will at least end zone questions about how badly the Bucs played most of the day Sunday. Brown was going to overshadow everything anyway. 

Last season, the Bucs got hot in the second half. How many times have you heard the story about Tampa Bay getting hot and carrying that momentum to a Super Bowl championship? Then the inverse has to be true. The Bucs might have peaked a few weeks ago. They don’t look like they’re ascending now. Tampa Bay looked pretty bad against a horrid Jets team on Sunday. But they still do have Brady. That gives them a chance. But the offense around Brady is suddenly falling apart. Leonard Fournette is on IR, though he should return. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay’s best receiver this season, won’t be back due to a knee injury. Brown was supposed to cover that loss, but everyone saw him throwing his gear into the stands, leaving his pads behind and waving as he ran into the locker room in one of the truly bizarre scenes in recent NFL memory. 

The truth is the Buccaneers needed Brown after Godwin’s injury. It’s the Bucs’ fault for relying on Brown. But that’s the situation they were in. His actions set the Buccaneers way back. It’s worth mentioning that the main reason Brown was on the Bucs in the first place was Brady. It worked last season. It was bound to blow up at some point. 

The cast around Brady the rest of the way is pretty anonymous. Brady is great, and Sunday’s final drive was further validation of his place in NFL history. But repeating with all the losses around him won’t be easy. The Bucs have a chance, but it’s all on Brady now. 

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers didn't have a great day against the Jets on Sunday. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and the Buccaneers didn’t have a great day against the Jets on Sunday. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Here are the winners and losers from Week 17 of the NFL season: 


Odell Beckham Jr.: The Los Angeles Rams are happy they got aggressive and landed Beckham. 

Beckham made the two biggest plays on Sunday to save what would have been a rough loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Beckham made a nice catch on fourth down with a little more than a minute to go. Then he got across the goal line for the go-ahead touchdown with 57 seconds left. The Rams got a stop after that and escaped with a 28-24 win. They’re 12-4. 

Beckham has had some rough patches after leaving the New York Giants. He wore out his welcome with the Cleveland Browns. The Rams took a shot on his talent. Beckham has been making plays for the Rams, and the Rams’ gamble was well worth it when Beckham came up big in the clutch on Sunday. 

Ja’Marr Chase: If you had Chase going in your fantasy football championship match, congratulations on your win.

Chase went off in an enormous 34-31 win for the Cincinnati Bengals over the Kansas City Chiefs. Chase had 266 yards and three touchdowns as the Bengals clinched the AFC North. The win also put AFC playoff teams on notice: The Bengals have plenty of playmakers and won’t be an easy out in the postseason (the Chiefs’ loss also puts the Tennessee Titans one win from clinching the AFC’s No. 1 seed). 

The Bengals had a bit of an escape in the end. They made a serious gamble to go for it on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line in the final minute of a tie video game. The first attempt had offsetting penalties so the Bengals tried again. They were unsuccessful but a defensive penalty kept the drive alive. They ran down the clock and kicked the field goal as time expired. 

Chase had a great start to the season, then slumped a bit. His huge day Sunday was worth a division title for Cincinnati. 

Eagles’ playoff hopes: It wasn’t pretty, but the Philadelphia Eagles are still looking pretty good for the playoffs. 

The Eagles can thank the NFL’s expanded playoff field, but they’re closer to getting a wild-card berth after a 20-16 win over the Washington Football Team that was tougher than it should have been. The Eagles offense struggled for a lot of the game, but the defense kept getting stops. A fourth-down touchdown run by Boston Scott, when Jalen Hurts was able to keep his wits and pitch it back after tripping following the snap, was huge. A couple of Jake Elliott field goals in the second half helped. An Eagles interception in the end zone with 24 seconds left sealed it. 

It’s not the type of performance that Eagles fans will fondly remember for years. But it was a big one in Philadelphia’s season. 

Mac Jones: The cure for the rookie wall might be playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

There were questions, after a few down weeks, if Jones had hit the wall. He looked just fine on Sunday. Jones picked apart the Jaguars in the New England Patriots’ 50-10 win. He was 12-of-14 for 107 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone. To start the second half Jones threw his third touchdown of the day. It went to Kristian Wilkerson, who had two scores against Jacksonville. Jones looked confident and was efficient, as he was for the first half of this season. 

Jones will have to play well for the Patriots to make a playoff run, and he’ll have to do it against teams much better than the Jaguars. But Sunday at least showed he still has plenty left in the tank of his successful rookie season. 


Joe Judge: Since Judge apparently won’t lose his job, he apparently wants to just run out the clock on the season. 

This was the New York Giants’ play selection at the Chicago Bears in the first half: 23 runs, two passes. They trailed 22-3 at halftime and lost 29-3. Mike Glennon isn’t good, but having him attempt two passes for four yards seemed like a passive aggressive way for Judge to say he can’t compete with his roster. So he didn’t try to win. That’s the only way you can explain the playcalling. The Giants finished with 40 runs and 11 passes in game they lost by 26 points. 

It was a weird approach and ensured the Giants would get blown out yet again. No team wants this season to end more than the Giants. 

Dolphins and their winning streak: It was unlikely that the Miami Dolphins’ hot run would last all the way to the playoffs. 

The Dolphins started the season 1-7 and after that won seven in a row. Most of those wins came against bad opponents but it was still impressive to get back into contention after that start to the season. But the Dolphins are in trouble again after an unimpressive loss to the Tennessee Titans, who take over pole position for the No. 1 seed in the AFC with the win and the Chiefs loss. Miami’s offense couldn’t move the ball. The defense didn’t play great, but it wouldn’t have mattered much anyway. 

The Dolphins aren’t dead in the playoff race. But they didn’t have much margin for error after that seven-game losing streak early in the season, and Sunday’s loss is likely what will end their postseason dreams. 

Matt Ryan’s taunting: Ryan taking a taunting call after seemingly scoring a rushing goal was not on anyone’s mind Sunday. 

Ryan seemed to score to cut the Buffalo Bills’ lead to 29-21 in the fourth quarter. He got up and let Bills safety Jordan Poyer know about it, which drew the flag. The problem was that replay showed Ryan’s knee was down at the 1-yard line. Instead of a touchdown, the Falcons marched back 15 yards and had fourth-and-goal at the 16-yard line. It was incomplete. That practically ended the Bills’ win. Buffalo is a win away from taking the AFC East champion with the 29-15 win. 

It has been a long season for the Falcons. One bad moment from Ryan was the lowlight of a frustrating season. 

Indianapolis Colts: A tumultuous week for the Colts, which included not knowing if Carson Wentz would play quarterback until Sunday morning, ended with a dud of a loss. 

Give credit to the Las Vegas Raiders, who are still alive to get a wild-card spot. A huge catch by Hunter Renfrow late in the game set up Daniel Carlson’s game-winning field goal and a 23-20 win. 

It was a disappointing lull for the Colts. The Colts are a very good group that consistently finds ways to lose games it shouldn’t. They’re a team you’d like to make a playoff run. However there have actually been constant reminders why they should not be relied on. Sunday’s loss was another one. 

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.