Antonio Brown's Tampa Bay Buccaneers career is officially over after his contract was terminated on Thursday.

There was drama when Brown astonishingly made a bizarre exit from the Bucs' win over the New York Jets last Sunday.

Brown removed his jersey and pads and left the field with Tampa Bay trailing 24-10 in the third quarter at MetLife Stadium, the wide receiver jumping in the endzone and waving to fans before running down the tunnel.

He subsequently left the stadium in an Uber and there was never likely to be a way back for the 33-year-old.

Brown accused Tampa Bay of a cover-up in a lengthy statement, revealing he will have surgery on his injured ankle.

He then on Thursday took to social media to post screenshots of text exchanges he had with Bruce Arians last week, informing the Bucs head coach that he was struggling with the ankle problem.

Brown then tweeted: "Don't get it twisted. My brothers have been good to me. From Tom [Brady] to practice squad, we were a top-level unit.

"They have been good to me and knew nothing about my talks with coach last week. The team mishandled this situation. They let me down and, more importantly, my teammates."

Tampa Bay later confirmed Brown has been released.

The franchise said in a statement: "The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have terminated the contract of Antonio Brown, effective immediately.

"While Antonio did receive treatment on his ankle and was listed on the injury report the week leading up to last Sunday's game, he was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game and at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play.

"We have attempted, multiple times throughout this week, to schedule an evaluation by an outside orthopaedic specialist, yet Antonio has not complied.

"Maintaining the health and wellness of our players is of the utmost importance to our organisation."

Antonio Brown has accused the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of a cover-up in a lengthy statement following his bizarre exit from their game with the New York Jets, while also revealing he will have surgery on his injured ankle.

Brown's time with the Buccaneers came to a remarkable end on Sunday when he took off his jersey and pads and left the field with Tampa Bay trailing 24-10 in the third quarter at MetLife Stadium, the wide receiver jumping in the endzone and waving to fans before running down the tunnel. He subsequently left the stadium in an Uber.

After the Bucs' comeback win, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said Brown was "no longer a Buc".

Brown has yet to be officially released, but the four-time first-team All-Pro claims that happened on the sideline and, in a statement released through his lawyer Sean Burstyn, hit back at accusations he quit on his team.

Explaining last Sunday's incident, the statement read in part: "I relented to pressure directly from my coach to play injured. Despite the pain, I suited up, the staff injected me with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it my all for the team. I played until it was clear that I could not use my ankle to safely perform my playing responsibilities.

"On top of that, the pain was extreme. I took a seat on the sideline and my coach came up to me, very upset, and shouted, "What's wrong with you? What's wrong with you?" I told him, "It's my ankle." But he knew that.

"He then ordered me to get on the field. I said, "Coach, I can't". He didn't call for medical attention. Instead, he shouted at me, "YOU'RE DONE!" while he ran his finger across his throat. Coach was telling me that if I didn't play hurt, then I was done with the Bucs.

"I didn't quit, I was cut. I didn't walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out. Being fired on the sideline for having a painful injury was bad enough. Then came their "spin". Coach denied on national television that he knew about my ankle. That's 100% inaccurate.

"I am reflecting on my reaction, but there was a trigger. The trigger was someone telling me that I'm not allowed to feel pain. I acknowledge my past. But my past does not make me a second-class citizen. My past does not forfeit my right to be heard when I am in pain."

Brown revealed he will have surgery after an MRI showed he has bone fragments in his ankle. He claims the MRI has been read by two top orthopedic surgeons but that the Bucs are attempting to force him to get another opinion from a more "junior" physician.

"As part of their ongoing cover-up, they are acting like I wasn't cut and now demanding I see a doctor of their choice to examine my ankle," the statement continued.

"What they did not know until now is that that on Monday morning I had an urgent MRI on my ankle. It shows broken bone fragments stuck in my ankle, the ligament torn from the bone, and cartilage loss. You can see the bone bulging from the outside. That must and can be repaired. The MRI has been read by two top orthopedic surgeons in NYC, including Dr. Martin O'Malley at Hospital for Special Surgery.

"Not realising that I had already scheduled a surgery at HSS, the Bucs 'ordered' me under penalty of discipline and with a few hours' notice to show up to a more junior doctor at HSS for another opinion. What a joke. They're playing like I wasn't cut, giving me a surprise attack "order" to show up to another doctor with no reasonable notice, and setting this whole thing up as a basis to cut me because what they did on Sunday was not legitimate.

"What the organisation is doing now needs to get cleaned up. I do not understand how people publicly claiming to be concerned about my mental health can do these things to me in private.

"Once my surgery is complete, I'll be back to 100 percent and looking forward to next season. Business gonna be BOOMIN!"

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians insisted he had "no regrets" over signing Antonio Brown following his bizarre walk-off during the clash with the New York Jets on Sunday.

With the Buccaneers down 24-10 and just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Brown appeared to be talking to team-mate Mike Evans on the sidelines before removing his jersey and shoulder pads, taking off his under-shirt and throwing it into the crowd, and then waving as he jogged towards the tunnel.

The 33-year-old had taken three receptions for 26 yards before leaving the game, which the Bucs went on to win 28-24 and move to a 12-4 record in the NFC.

Speaking after the comeback victory, Arians told reporters: "He is no longer a Buc. That's the end of the story. Let's talk about the guys that went out there and won the game."

The Bucs signed Brown in October 2020 after a short stint at the New England Patriots in 2019.

Arians had initially called Brown a "diva" and said "there's no room" for him at the Bucs.

But despite an eight-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy after punching a delivery truck driver, they did eventually sign him. 

He served another three-game ban this season after an NFL investigation found that he had produced a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.

Arians is happy with his decision to sign Brown, however, and hopes this latest incident can act as a turning point for the 33-year-old. 

"I have no regrets [over signing him]. I just hope the best for him," he told a media conference.

"It was very hard. I wish him well. If he needs help, I hope he gets some. It's very hard because I do care about him; I care about him a bunch. I hope that he's OK."

Asked if Brown told him he was injured, Arians said: "No. It's pretty obvious what happened. He left the field and that was it. We had a conversation, and he left the field."

Brown had played in just six games this season prior to Sunday, managing 39 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns.

Matthew Stafford inspired the Los Angeles Rams to move one step closer to securing their second straight NFC West title with a 20-19 win over the slumping Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The defeat for the Ravens, who were without quarterback Lamar Jackson for the third straight game, leaves them perilously close to slipping out of the Wild Card hunt after their fifth consecutive loss.

Justin Tucker's field goal had put the Ravens up 19-14 with 4:33 left but Stafford launched a game-winning 75-yard drive to overhaul the deficit.

Stafford completed a 15-yard pass to Tyler Higbee and a 24-yarder to Cooper Kupp, before finding Odell Beckham Jr twice in a row, with the latter being the decisive TD.

The Rams QB finished with 26 of 35 passes for two touchdowns but also two interceptions, including a Chuck Clark first-quarter pick six, as well as a sack.

Clark's TD was the Ravens' only for the game, as QB Tyler Huntley completed 20 of 32 passes for 197 yards.

Rams running back Sony Michel had 19 carries for 74 yards including a TD along with wide receiver Kupp with six receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown.

Over a month ago the Ravens had been 8-3 and looking good for the AFC top seed but now they are scrapping for a playoffs spot after a series of narrow defeats and desperate for Jackson's return.

Carlson field goal gives Raiders edge in Wild Card race

The Las Vegas Raiders claimed a crucial last-gasp win from Daniel Carlson's 33-yard field goal in the AFC Wild Card race with a 23-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz cleared protocols for the game but completed 16 of 27 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown, while running back Jonathan Taylor had one TD from 20 carries for 108 yards, with the defeat marking the first this season when he has rushed more than 100 yards.

The Raiders pipped the Colts in the final quarter, trailing 17-13 at the final break with QB Derek Carr hitting Hunter Renfrow on a fourth-down play for a TD, before Michael Badgley squared the game with a 41-yard field goal, only for Carlson to win it with one from 33 yards as time expired. The Raiders improve to 9-7, pulling ahead of the 9-7 Colts in the AFC Wild Card race.

 

Bengals clinch maiden AFC North title

The Cincinnati Bengals clinched their first-ever AFC North title as Evan McPherson kicked a late 20-yard field goal to secure a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase set an NFL rookie record and franchise record with 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches, while QB Joe Burrow threw 30 of 39 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

Burrow got the better of opposing QB Patrick Mahomes who completed 26 of 35 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns as the Chiefs, who have already won the AFC West title, moved to 11-5.

 

Brady cool after Brown meltdown

Tom Brady was cool in a crisis after Antonio Brown stormed off the field as the NFC South-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to win 28-24 over the New York Jets.

Brady completed 34 of 50 attempts for 410 yards and three touchdowns, including leading them on a 93-yard drive in the final minutes to clinch the victory.

The game was marred after Brown's meltdown, storming off the field in the third quarter with the Bucs 24-10 down, with head coach Bruce Arians confirming "he is no longer a Buc" after the game.

Matthew Stafford inspired the Los Angeles Rams to move one step closer to securing their second straight NFC West title with a 20-19 win over the slumping Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

The defeat for the Ravens, who were without quarterback Lamar Jackson for the third straight game, leaves them perilously close to slipping out of the Wild Card hunt after their fifth consecutive loss.

Justin Tucker's field goal had put the Ravens up 19-14 with 4:33 left but Stafford launched a game-winning 75-yard drive to overhaul the deficit.

Stafford completed a 15-yard pass to Tyler Higbee and a 24-yarder to Cooper Kupp, before finding Odell Beckham Jr twice in a row, with the latter being the decisive TD.

The Rams QB finished with 26 of 35 passes for two touchdowns but also two interceptions, including a Chuck Clark first-quarter pick six, as well as a sack.

Clark's TD was the Ravens' only for the game, as QB Tyler Huntley completed 20 of 32 passes for 197 yards.

Rams running back Sony Michel had 19 carries for 74 yards including a TD along with wide receiver Kupp with six receptions for 95 yards and one touchdown.

Over a month ago the Ravens had been 8-3 and looking good for the AFC top seed but now they are scrapping for a playoffs spot after a series of narrow defeats and desperate for Jackson's return.

Carlson field goal gives Raiders edge in Wild Card race

The Las Vegas Raiders claimed a crucial last-gasp win from Daniel Carlson's 33-yard field goal in the AFC Wild Card race with a 23-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz cleared protocols for the game but completed 16 of 27 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown, while running back Jonathan Taylor had one TD from 20 carries for 108 yards, with the defeat marking the first this season when he has rushed more than 100 yards.

The Raiders pipped the Colts in the final quarter, trailing 17-13 at the final break with QB Derek Carr hitting Hunter Renfrow on a fourth-down play for a TD, before Michael Badgley squared the game with a 41-yard field goal, only for Carlson to win it with one from 33 yards as time expired. The Raiders improve to 9-7, pulling ahead of the 9-7 Colts in the AFC Wild Card race.

 

Bengals clinch maiden AFC North title

The Cincinnati Bengals clinched their first-ever AFC North title as Evan McPherson kicked a late 20-yard field goal to secure a 34-31 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase set an NFL rookie record and franchise record with 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches, while QB Joe Burrow threw 30 of 39 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns.

Burrow got the better of opposing QB Patrick Mahomes who completed 26 of 35 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns as the Chiefs, who have already won the AFC West title, moved to 11-5.

 

Brady cool after Brown meltdown

Tom Brady was cool in a crisis after Antonio Brown stormed off the field as the NFC South-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to win 28-24 over the New York Jets.

Brady completed 34 of 50 attempts for 410 yards and three touchdowns, including leading them on a 93-yard drive in the final minutes to clinch the victory.

The game was marred after Brown's meltdown, storming off the field in the third quarter with the Bucs 24-10 down, with head coach Bruce Arians confirming "he is no longer a Buc" after the game.

Antonio Brown has apparently played his last game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after head coach Bruce Arians declared that the wide receiver is "no longer a Buc".

Arians made the comments following Brown's bizarre walk off during the clash with the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

With the Buccaneers down 24-10 and just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Brown appeared to be talking to team-mate Mike Evans on the sidelines before removing his jersey and shoulder pads, taking off his under-shirt and throwing it into the crowd, and then waving as he jogged towards the tunnel.

The 33-year-old had taken three receptions for 26 yards before leaving the game, which the Bucs went on to win 28-24 and move to a 12-4 record in the NFC.

Speaking after the comeback victory, Arians told reporters: "He is no longer a Buc. That's the end of the story. Let's talk about the guys that went out there and won the game."

Brown had played in just six games this season prior to Sunday, managing 39 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns.

The Bucs signed Brown in October 2020 after a short stint at the New England Patriots in 2019, followed by two claims of retirement from the game before changing his mind.

Antonio Brown bizarrely walked off mid-game as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

With the Buccaneers down 24-10 and just over three minutes left in the third quarter, Brown appeared to be talking to team-mate Mike Evans on the sidelines before removing his jersey and shoulder pads, taking off his under-shirt and throwing it into the crowd, and then waving as he jogged towards the tunnel.

The 33-year-old wide receiver had taken three receptions for 26 yards before leaving the game.

Brown had played in just six games this season prior to Sunday, managing 39 receptions for 519 yards and four touchdowns, and had been a doubt for the trip to the Jets with an ankle injury, but was able to play until he decided to leave of his own accord.

Tampa Bay had already clinched the NFC South Division title but were still hoping to add to their 11-4 record heading into this weekend as they seek to secure home advantage for the playoffs.

The Bucs signed Brown in October 2020 after a short stint at the New England Patriots in 2019, followed by two claims of retirement from the game before changing his mind.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians says "nothing has been decided" about the future of suspended pair Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards.

The Bucs duo were banned without pay for three games each for violating the NFL's COVID-19 protocols after misrepresenting their vaccination statuses, along with free agent John Franklin III.

Arians had said when Brown joined the franchise in October last year that if he "screws up one time, he's gone" after a dotted off-field history.

However, the Bucs have not made any decisions on his future following his latest misdemeanour.

“It pisses me off,” Arians said, via JoeBucsFan.com.

When speaking at a Friday news conference, Arians added: "Obviously we have two guys suspended. The league did their due diligence and we move on.

"I will not address those guys for the next three weeks. They'll just be working out and we'll address their future at that time. Other than that, there's really nothing to say."

Brown's former personal chef claimed last month that the wide receiver had obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card during the offseason.

When pressed further on Brown and Edwards' futures, Arians said: "Nothing's been decided, no."

Wide receiver Brown had been expected to miss Tampa Bay's next two games due to an ankle injury that has kept him out since Week 7. Brown has 29 receptions for 418 yards and four touchdowns in five games this NFL season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers seven-time Pro Bowler Antonio Brown is one of three players suspended for three games for violating NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols.

The Buccaneers wide receiver along with team-mate Mike Edwards and free agent John Franklin III, if signed by a club, have each been suspended without pay for the next three games.

The NFL said in a statement that all three players had accepted their sanctions and waived their right of appeal. All three have since been vaccinated.

The NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement: "The health and safety of players and personnel is our top priority. The protocols were jointly developed working with our respective experts to ensure that we are practicing and playing football as safely as possible during the ongoing pandemic.

"The NFL-NFLPA jointly reinforce their commitment and further emphasize the importance of strict adherence to the protocols to protect the well-being of everyone associated with the NFL."

Brown's former personal chef claimed last month that the wide receiver had obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card during the offseason.

The wide receiver had been expected to miss Tampa Bay's next two games due to an ankle injury that has kept him out since Week 7.

Brown has 29 receptions for 418 yards and four touchdowns in five games this NFL season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady insisted there is a "real urgency" for the NFL Super Bowl champions to arrest their slump ahead of Monday's clash with the New York Giants.

The Buccaneers (6-3) have lost back-to-back games as they prepare to host the Giants at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

Brady has not lost three consecutive regular-season games since 2002, when he dropped four in a row, and the record seven-time Super Bowl champion knows the Buccaneers must start winning sooner rather than later.

"I think we have to change it and I think winning football is about doing the right thing as often as possible," Brady told reporters on Saturday.

"Everyone being on the same page, great communication and just giving the best effort as possible on every play. Things aren't always going to be perfect out there, but you have to have as few as mistakes as possible.

"I think there's a real urgency for us to have it right."

Despite their loss of form, the Buccaneers still lead the NFC South, ahead of the New Orleans Saints.

"It's not nearly as fun putting all the work in and us trying to grind and get it right," said Brady. "We're not doing what it takes on the field in order to win.

"In order to do it right, you put in a lot of time and energy and detail into what we're doing. It will feel a lot better when we win, but we have to go earn it and we're going against a team that challenges you to do it."

Brady is 5-1 in his six career regular-season games against the Giants (passing for more than 330 yards in four of those six games) but 0-2 against them in Super Bowls.

The 44-year-old leads the NFL this season in big plays passing (26), attempts per game (41.9), completions per game (28.2), passing yards per game (318.9), having completed 254 passes for 2,870 yards and 27 touchdowns.

His passer rating (106.1) through nine games is his best since 2015 with the New England Patriots.

"I actually have great teammates and great group of coaches and we're going to work our butt off to get it right," said Brady. "I think there are definitely things that we've done a good job of, but it's identifying those things and then working at them.

"I think the expectations are high for a reason because we have a lot of talented players, and we know that we can play at a high level. We just have to go do it."

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, will again be without star Antonio Brown against the visiting Giants.

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians confirmed Brown's absence on Saturday – the wide receiver has not played since Week 6 due to an ankle injury.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers insist "no irregularities were observed" after a report contained the claim that Antonio Brown procured a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.

A story from the Tampa Bay Times featured the allegation that wide receiver Brown was willing to pay his former live-in chef Steven Ruiz $500 if he could obtain a vaccine card for the NFL star.

The report says Ruiz was unable to secure cards but claimed he was later shown fake documentation by Brown.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement: "We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club. We will review the matter."

While players in the NFL do not have to be vaccinated in order to play, those who are not jabbed face stricter restrictions under the league's protocols put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Brown's attorney, Sean Burstyn, was quoted by NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport as saying "be like Antonio Brown and get the vaccine", and insisted his client is indeed vaccinated against COVID-19.

Defending Super Bowl champions the Bucs have now also reacted to the claims.

A team statement read: "After an extensive educational process conducted throughout our organisation this past offseason highlighting the benefit of COVID-19 vaccines, we received completed vaccination cards from all Tampa Bay Buccaneers players and submitted the required information to the NFL through the established process in accordance with league policy.

"All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed."

Brown missed the Bucs' week three game against the Los Angeles Rams after testing positive for COVID-19. He featured in the team's following three games before being sidelined by an ankle injury.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is unsure if star duo Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski will return for Sunday's NFL showdown with the Washington Football Team.

Brown has missed Tampa Bay's last two games due to an ankle injury, while Gronkowski is battling to overcome back spasms that flared up in the loss to the New Orleans Saints on October 31.

Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers are coming off the bye and practiced on Monday, though neither Brown nor Gronkowski were involved.

"I think you still have to worry a little bit about Gronk and I don't know if AB is going to be back," Arians told reporters.

"And Carlton [Davis III] will stay on IR [injured reserve]. We'll see if those other two guys are game-ready.

"It's one thing to practice, it's another thing to throw them out there in a game."

Gronkowski had four touchdown receptions in the season's first two games and 16 grabs overall prior to suffering his initial rib injury in Week 3 before missing four games.

Brown's average of 83.6 receiving yards per game is highest among all Buccaneers pass-catchers.

The Buccaneers (6-2) lead the NFL in points scored per game (32.5) and passing yards per game (327.5).

In Week 4, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced an AFC East defense and by, their standards, looked out of sync. In Week 5, they faced an AFC East defense and could hardly have looked more impressive.

Freed from the rainy confines of Foxborough and away from the defensive scheming of his old boss Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers routed a Miami Dolphins team whose rebuild appears poised to come crashing down 45-17 to improve to 4-1 on the season.

Back in the Florida sunshine, it was very much a return to business as usual for the Bucs, but, for Tampa Bay, business as usual is looking steadily more remarkable.

Speaking after Sunday's game, running back Leonard Fournette said: "Prior to the third quarter Rich [Richard Sherman] came up to me and said, 'Man, I've never been part of a team with so much talent.'

"And I'm telling him like, and excuse my language, but this s*** is different."

It is tough to disagree with Fournette's assessment of the Super Bowl champions. When performing at their peak, the Bucs appear to be on a different level to almost every team in the NFL.

They were several leagues above their in-state neighbours at the weekend, with the gulf in class illustrated by a rapport between Brady and arguably the NFL's premier group of wide receivers that appears to be growing ever stronger.

Brady heading for more history

Brady finished with 411 yards passing and five touchdowns against the Dolphins for a 144.4 passer rating, tying Peyton Manning with his ninth career game with at least five touchdown passes. Only Drew Brees (11) has more in NFL history.

It was his 36th game with at least four touchdown passes, taking him past Manning (35) and one shy of Brees. Brees (16), Manning (14) and Dan Marino (13) are the only players with more 400 passing-yard games than Brady's 12.

A 62-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown marked Brady's 45th of 50 or more yards, moving him level with Brees and John Hadl for the third most in league history. Johnny Unitas (51) and Manning (46) stand ahead of him in that regard.

Leading the league in passing yards (1,767) and second in passing touchdowns (15) and plays of 25 yards or more (16), Brady will be a strong bet to keep moving up those lists, provided he and his wideouts continue operating at a level that left a Dolphins defense known for producing momentum-stopping takeaways powerless to stem the tide.

Pressure? What pressure?

Brady delivered an accurate well-thrown ball on 81.6 per cent of his pass attempts against Miami. The average for the week heading into Monday was 81.7, but Brady was close to that mark while also averaging 10.53 air yards per attempt.

Only two quarterbacks who averaged more air yards had a better well-thrown percentage. Russell Wilson was accurate on 93.3 per cent with 12.00 air yards per attempt before his injury, and Josh Allen was on target 87.5 per cent of the time with an average of 12.46 air yards.

It was under pressure where Brady stood out in Week 5, as his first of two touchdown hookups with Brown saw him stand in against the interior rush and deliver a perfectly timed ball to the former Pittsburgh Steeler on a crossing route despite falling away from the throw.

Brown was able to collect the pass in stride, racing into open space to find the endzone and give the Bucs a 17-10 lead they never looked like relinquishing.

Arguably as impressive was Brady's 34-yard bomb to Mike Evans. The first of two touchdown catches for Evans, Brady dropped a downfield shot into the bucket despite dealing with late-arriving pressure from the backside and Byron Jones being in phase in good trail position covering the receiver.

Brady was accurate on four of his five attempts under pressure, on which he averaged 9.80 air yards, with his release time of 2.41 seconds on those passes the second-fastest in the NFL.

In a league increasingly dominated by quarterbacks who can escape pressure with their legs, Brady is a 44-year-old statue winning through his mind and his arm operating at a faster speed than everyone else on the field while continuing to demonstrate remarkable placement on throws that seemed beyond him as recently as 2019.

Part of the credit for his success, though, must be attributed to a receiving corps firmly living up to its reputation.

Business booming for AB and Co.

Evans, Brown and Chris Godwin can each be considered elite options at the wideout position, and their status in that regard was further solidified in a game where the Bucs shredded the opposing defense despite Brady being without a tight end in Rob Gronkowski who is averaging a big play on 57.0 per cent of his targets.

Brown finished with seven receptions for 124 yards and his two scores, becoming the fastest player to reach 900 catches as he took his tally to 906 in 143 career games, breaking the record set by Marvin Harrison (149 games).

He also became the fifth player in league history to reach 12,000 receiving yards in fewer than 150 games and, while Brown may never reach the levels he demonstrated during his time in Pittsburgh, he is undoubtedly worthy of Brady's increasing faith in him.

Producing a burn – when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted – 69.0 per cent of the time, Brown is tied-third among receivers with at least 20 targets with his 5.3 burn yards per route.

Evans, meanwhile, is seventh on the list of receivers who meet that same threshold with a big play on 41.7 per cent of his targets, and Godwin – the quietest of the trio versus Miami with seven catches for 70 yards – is fifth in burn percentage for receivers with a 20-target minimum, winning his matchup on 74.4 per cent of targets.

Godwin's average depth of target of 8.3 yards speaks to a receiver who is working more as an underneath option while Evans (14.2) and Brown (13.9) are being relied on to produce the more explosive plays downfield.

Yet when performing at the standard they showcased on Sunday, the nature of their deployment is almost immaterial. With three receivers who could be number one targets on most teams in the NFL and a quarterback whose arm and ability to process are seemingly unaffected by the passage of time, a Bucs offense that is clicking is a near-impossible one to stop.

Any notion of a short stay in Tampa being akin to a Florida retirement home for Brady has long since been dispelled. With an embarrassment of riches at receiver, he is continually polishing a legacy that glistens more than any other in league history. With more offensive performances like his 400-yard blitz of the Dolphins, he may end the year buffing up an eighth Lombardi Trophy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar Tom Brady was non-committal on his playing status after suffering a hand injury in his five-touchdown performance against the Miami Dolphins.

Brady threw five TD passes to fuel Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers' 45-17 rout of the Dolphins in Week 5 of the NFL season on Sunday.

The 44-year-old was 30-of-41 passing for 411 yards without throwing an interception against the struggling Dolphins (1-4) in Tampa, where the Bucs improved to 4-1.

Among Brady's touchdown passes was a 62-yard TD throw to Antonio Brown – the longest pass TD he has completed with the Buccaneers, while it was the seven-time Super Bowl champion's 25th career pass TD of 60-plus yards, which is tied for ninth-most in NFL history.

But afterwards, Brady was seen with his right hand bandaged as the Bucs quarterback provided an update on his injury.

"Yeah in my younger days I probably [would have] never showed you guys that I wrapped it up, because I'd probably try to keep it a secret, but I think in my old age I don't care as much," Brady told reporters post-game, with the Bucs due to meet the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday.

"I mean it's just a kind of a football injury. So, do my best you know to get ready for this game. We'll see what happens."

In the win, Bucs wide receiver Brown became the fastest NFL player to 900 receptions in just his 143rd career game, eclipsing Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (149 games).

Brown – a seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro – finished with two touchdowns from 124 yards on seven receptions against the Dolphins.

"I take so much inspiration from Tom. As a professional, as a leader, making sure that I'm doing my job, making sure that all the other 10 guys are doing their job," said Brown, who played alongside Ben Roethlisberger at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"He just continues to up the standard and raise the bar."

Brown, 33, added: "I've played with some great quarterbacks. Roethlisberger. Tom Brady. It's a blessing."

Brady, who played alongside Brown briefly at the New England Patriots before reuniting in Tampa last season, said: "It's pretty amazing. Just give him a lot of credit.

"He's been through a lot and he's shown a lot of mental toughness, a lot of resilience. Everyone just wants him to succeed.

"We've got a unique group of guys. Very talented, but very selfless too. All those guys are getting opportunities to make plays, and just fun to see when everyone's involved how fun it can be."

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won an opening-night thriller in the NFL, the Super Bowl champions overcoming the Dallas Cowboys 31-29 thanks to a field goal with two seconds remaining.

The Cowboys led 29-28 with seven seconds on the clock at Raymond Jones Stadium – the home of the Buccaneers and the scene of their Super Bowl LV triumph in February.

But after Brady led an 11-play, 57-yard drive, Ryan Succop stepped up to convert the last-gasp field goal as the Buccaneers opened the 2021 season with a win.

It was another memorable outing for seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady (43), who passed Drew Brees for most career passing touchdowns in season openers in NFL history.

Brady completed 32 of 50 passes for 379 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions as the 44-year-old quarterback fuelled the Buccaneers.

Cowboys counterpart Dak Prescott – back on the field for the first time since his season-ending ankle injury in Week 5 of the 2020 season – was 42-for-58 passing, with 403 yards, three TDs and one interception.

Prescott has had 400-plus yards in four games since the start of last season – the most by any player in the NFL.

The Buccaneers and Cowboys traded touchdowns in the opening quarter – Brady finding Chris Godwin before Prescott's 22-yard pass was caught by CeeDee Lamb inside the final two minutes.

Brady and Rob Gronkowski connected for a touchdown as the Buccaneers reclaimed the lead and while Prescott's TD pass to Amari Cooper and a Greg Zuerlein field goal put Dallas ahead, Tampa Bay had the last say before half-time – Antonio Brown on the end of a 47-yard throw.

There was history made in the third quarter as Brady and Gronkowski combined for their 100th touchdown, the star pair joining Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (114) in the 100 club.

With his 22nd career game with multiple receiving TDs, Gronkowski broke a tie with Antonio Gates for most games by a tight end in the Super Bowl era and moved into a tie for sixth in any position.

Dallas only trailed 28-26 entering the final period thanks to Cooper's second TD and the visitors took the lead with just over a minute remaining via another Zuerlein field goal, but Succop and the Buccaneers were not to be denied.

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