ATLANTA (AP) — Tom Brady never gets tired of breaking records — even his own.
He finished Sunday with a different record he didn’t have: a losing record.
Brady broke his NFL mark for most completions in a season, and quickly caught the required nine touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 30-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He played in the second quarter and then was ruled out to avoid injury with the next week’s playoffs.
The loss dropped the NFC champion South Buccaneers to 8-9, the first time a quarterback team by Brady had finished a season below . 500.
Brady had a record-breaking 485 hit with the Pirates in 2021, and the 45-year-old started today just 9 short of a new mark. He also holds NFL career records for passes completed, pass attempts, passing yards and touchdown passes. He is a three-time MVP and 15-time Pro Bowl among his other accolades.
“I love going out there and competing with my teammates, and I love competing with those guys,” Brady said. “I have a great group of guys that I go to work with every day. We try to show everyone and be the best we can be. Those are all team records in my opinion. I’ve always said that.”
Brady put up his latest score on a 5-yard completion to former Falcons receiver Russell Gage early in the second quarter. The lateral pass gave Brady nine completions in his first 12 attempts and his 486th for the season.
That drive ended with a field goal. Brady played another possession before Blaine Gabbert took over late in the first half.
Now the Bucs must regroup and prepare to host a playoff game against Dallas next Monday night.
“It’s quite a challenge,” Brady said. “I think every team is going to have a challenge. There are only 14 teams that have qualified. There is only one person who is happy with it in the end. It will be tough, but we are battle-tested.
“We’ve had some tough games. We’ve come back from some. Some we don’t have. But like I said, the lockdown isn’t going to be good enough for anyone going forward.”
Brady completed 13 of 17 passes for 84 yards with a touchdown, giving him 490 completions for the season. He also took the loss on his career record and fell to 11-1 all time against the Falcons.
Tampa Bay clinched the NFC South with last week’s 30-24 win over Carolina and couldn’t improve on the No. 4 seed going into Sunday’s game.
Although Buccaneers coach, Todd Bowles has gone ahead with his plan to start his own health regimen, it was not known how long he would stay with Brady.
The Buccaneers had three active players, including Kyle Trask, for only the second time this season. Trask, a second-year player, has not appeared in a regular season game this season.
“I’ve been trying to play as long as I can, I really have been, but we’ve had a lot of injuries and we’ve had a lot of people in and out,” Brady said. “It’s tough or rough. You want to give other people opportunities to play. You’ve played a lot this year. It’s good to see Blaine out there and throw touchdowns and it’s good to see Kyle play a little bit.”
Brady didn’t need long to close in on the record. He completed four passes for 38 yards on Tampa Bay’s opening drive, including an 8-yard touchdown catch to tight end Kyle Rudolph.
“He continues to defy time,” Bowles said. “Father Time is having a good time with Brady. He works hard. He loves to play the game. He’s like a little kid outside. He loves competition and everything else has already been said.”
Associated Press sportswriter Charles Odom contributed.
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