ATLANTA (AP) — Tom Brady did it again to the Atlanta Falcons.
This time, he didn’t even need overtime.
Rallying Tampa Bay from a pair of 17-point deficits, Brady recreated his Super Bowl miracle by leading the Buccaneers on five straight scoring drives in the second half Sunday for a 31-27 victory over the stunned Falcons.
The stakes weren’t nearly as high and the deficit wasn’t quite as daunting, but Brady’s latest blow to Atlanta took the Bucs (9-5) to the brink of their first playoff berth since 2007.
It sure didn’t look that way when Atlanta raced to 17-0 by halftime, or when the Falcons (4-10) restored their margin to 24-7 after Brady finally guided the Bucs to a touchdown on the first possession of the second half.
Turns out, the 43-year-old was just getting warmed up.
He certainly had plenty of experience to fall back on when it came to breaking Atlanta’s heart.
In the 2017 Super Bowl, Brady famously led the greatest comeback in championship game history, rallying New England from a 28-3 deficit late in the third quarter to a 34-28 overtime victory that secured his fifth of six titles with the Patriots.
Now, it looks like he’ll get a shot at another with his new team. The Bucs are on the cusp of wrapping up a wild-card berth, which is just what Brady had in mind when he left snowy Massachusetts for sunny Florida.
Brady capped his latest rally with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with 6:19 remaining. The league’s oldest player finished 31 of 45 for 390 yards and two TDs.
Tampa Bay scored on five straight possessions after halftime — four touchdowns and a field goal.
Leonard Fournette had a pair of 1-yard TD runs, Brady hooked up with Chris Godwin on a 4-yard scoring pass, and Ryan Succop connected on a 27-yard field goal.
Matt Ryan was 34 of 49 for 356 yards and three touchdowns for the Falcons, but he did little after connecting with Hayden Hurst on a 7-yard TD throw midway through the third quarter.
The Bucs suddenly starting getting pressure on the Atlanta QB, who was sacked three times. Devin White had two of the takedowns.
Atlanta failed to pick up a first down on four of its last five possessions, the only exception being a drive that ended with Younghoe Koo’s 52-yard field goal with 8:22 remaining, giving the Falcons a 27-24 lead.
It didn’t hold up.
It never does against Brady, who improved to 7-0 against the Falcons in his long career.
The Falcons took another demoralizing loss in a season filled with them. They already became the first in NFL history to blow fourth-quarter leads of at least 15 points in two straight games.
Now, this — which may have hurt even worse because of the guy who led the comeback.
Buccaneers;: CB Carlton Davis, who leads Tampa Bay with four interception, was ruled out early in the second half with a groin injury.
Falcons: CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson went out in the first half after falling ill and did not return. … OG James Carpenter (groin) and CB Isiah Oliver (cramping) also went out. With Oliver on the sideline, his backup, Tyler Hall, was beaten on Brown’s game-winning touchdown.
Buccaneers: Play their final road game of the season next Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
Falcons: Travel to Kansas City to face the Super Bowl champion Chiefs in the first of two road games to close their third straight losing season
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