Tom Brady has not yet made a decision on retirement, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will give the quarterback "all the time he needs".

The Bucs' season ended on Sunday with a dramatic Divisional Round defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, going down 30-27 after Brady had led his team back from 27-3 down to tie the game.

But talk before the game had suggested it could be Brady's last if Tampa lost, as transpired.

The 44-year-old told his Let's Go podcast that he will be making any decision together with his family, refusing to rule out the possibility of quitting the NFL after seven Super Bowl triumphs.

"Playing football I get so much joy from. I love it," Brady said on the podcast. "But not playing football, there's a lot of joy in that for me also now, too, with my kids getting older and seeing them develop and grow.

"So all these things need to be considered and they will be."

After two outstanding years with the Bucs, Brady said he would only continue if he was operating at "a championship level".

The veteran QB surely still represents Tampa's best possible option under center, but coach Bruce Arians insisted on Monday he would give Brady time.

"I haven't talked to him yet," Arians said. "He'll take all the time he needs and we'll see."

The Bucs had won the championship at the end of the 2020 season and brought the entire team back for a title defence, but an ageing group could not deliver again.

There will be no "rebuild", though, as Arians responded to that suggestion: "No, I think it's just a reload, like it is every year.

"For us, free agency will be our guys. We'll see how many we can get back and build the team from there. I always look forward to that part of it and the draft.

"Each year is so different and so new. Last year, to get everybody back, that was amazing. I doubt we can do that again this year, but we're still going to give it our best."

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, a team-mate of Brady's with the New England Patriots and then the Bucs, insisted his future was not necessarily linked to the QB's.

"Whatever Tom does Tom's going to do," he said. "I'm sure that he needs time to himself, too, to see where he's at at this stage. We'll see in couple of weeks where I'm at."

Matthew Stafford revelled in "stealing somebody's soul" after he helped the Los Angeles Rams end the Tamp Bay Buccaneers' playoff hopes.

The Rams prevailed 30-27 over last season's Super Bowl champions on Sunday to reach the NFC Championship game, which will be a matchup between two underdogs after the San Francisco 49ers' win over the Green Bay Packers.

Yet it could very well have gone badly wrong for Los Angeles, who had led 27-3 until a Tom Brady-inspired comeback from the Bucs in the final quarter.

Brady connected with Mike Evans for a 55-yard touchdown pass, with the possibility of a turnaround that would rank as the joint-fourth largest in postseason history coming into view.

Evans' score made the game 27-20 and another Rams mistake allowed the Bucs to level the scores through Leonard Fournette.

Yet Stafford had other ideas, with the 33-year-old – who joined from the Detroit Lions ahead of this season – combining with wide receiver Cooper Kupp to set up a Matt Gray field goal.

"In my mind, I live for those kinds of moments," said Stafford, who has now made 43 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. That is the most of any player since the QB first featured in the NFL in 2009.

"I would have loved to have been taking a knee up three scores, but it's a whole lot more fun when you've got to make a play like that to win the game and just steal somebody's soul.

"That's what it feels like sometimes where they're sitting there going, 'Man, we just had this great comeback.' And you get to reach in there and take it from them. That's a whole lot of fun."

Stafford threw for 366 yards against Tampa Bay, a high mark for the season, besting his previous high of 365 set against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5 and bringing up the third-highest yardage in a single postseason game in Rams history.

He also threw for two touchdowns, rushed another and registered a pass completion rate of 73.7 per cent, finding his target with 28 of 38 attempts.

One of those touchdown passes was a 70-yard combination with Kupp, who led the way in the regular season for receiving yards (1,947), receiving touchdowns (16) and receptions (145).

However, Kupp was not happy with how the Rams' offense performed in the midst of Tampa Bay’s fightback.

"As an offense, we first and foremost did a terrible job of executing for this team in the second half," Kupp said.

"We can't do the things that we did. Put our defense, our team in a really bad spot."

Yet head coach Sean McVay was happy to reflect on a thrilling win, saying: "That's why you play four quarters and try to finish that game out.

"That was something else. That was something else.

"Those guys did a great job. I thought Matthew Stafford was unbelievable throughout the whole day. Just his poise, his command, his decision-making."

Tom Brady declined to discuss his playing future amid retirement talk after almost pulling off a miracle comeback as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers crashed out of the NFL playoffs.

The Bucs trailed 27-3 but fought back to level the game in the final quarter before eventually losing 30-27 to the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday's Divisional playoff.

Brady threw a spectacular pass for Mike Evans for a 55-yard touchdown to make it 27-20 in the fourth quarter.

Tampa Bay's exit comes amid growing speculation about the 44-year-old quarterback's future, with one year remaining on his Bucs contract.

"I haven’t put a lot of thought into it. Just take it day-by-day and see where we’re at,” Brady told reporters after the game.

Brady added: "The truth of it is I'm only thinking about this game. I'm not thinking about anything past five minutes from now."

Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians offered no insight into the situation either, stating "that's up to Tom" when pressed on the issue.

Brady completed 30 of 54 attempts for 329 yards and one touchdown in Sunday's defeat. The seven-time Super Bowl champion had a 67.5 percent completion rate for a career-high 5,316 yards with 43 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season.

The Bucs had entered the playoffs as the NFC's second seed but fell short after going all the way last season as fifth seeds.

"Always tough losing at the end of the year," Brady said.

"Obviously we showed a lot of fight but at the end of the day when you lose a game, you lose a game."

Tom Brady fell agonisingly short of another remarkable playoff recovery as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 30-27 at the last to the Los Angeles Rams in what could yet be the great quarterback's final game.

Discussion around 44-year-old Brady's future increased as this Divisional Round game approached at Raymond James Stadium.

If this was the end for the seven-time Super Bowl champion, who has not committed to playing next year, it befitted the rest of his outstanding career.

Brady will be a spectator next week when the Rams face NFC West rivals the San Francisco 49ers – helmed by his former backup Jimmy Garoppolo – in the NFC Championship Game, but he could hardly have done more to prolong the Buccaneers' title defence.

The Rams led 27-3 halfway through the third quarter, but errors crept into their play and Brady sniffed an opportunity.

Attempting a repeat of his Super Bowl LI fightback from 28-3 down, Brady led the Bucs to 24 unanswered points to tie the game with just seconds remaining.

The veteran had endured a frustrating first half that included his first career penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct as he fumed at officials when a hit from Von Miller left him with a bloodied lip.

That incident had long been forgotten by the time Brady connected with Mike Evans for a 55-yard touchdown pass, with the possibility of a turnaround that would rank as the joint-fourth largest in postseason history coming into view.

Evans' score made the game 27-20 and another Rams mistake allowed the Bucs to level the scores.

A sloppy second half seemed to have peaked when a Miller strip sack of Brady was immediately followed by LA's snap missing Matthew Stafford, who was looking the other way. Instead, the Rams outdid themselves as Cam Akers' second fumble gave Brady the ball back late on.

Brady handed off to Leonard Fournette and overtime loomed, yet Stafford and triple crown wide receiver Cooper Kupp – having earlier combined for a 70-yard score on third and 20 – had the final say.

A 44-yard completion gave Matt Gay a winning field goal with time up. After a third road win and a third winning field goal in this Divisional Round, now the Rams must beat a 49ers team they have twice lost to this year.

Tom Brady has paid tribute to the "tremendous" Los Angeles Rams defense that he is tasked with getting the better of in the NFL playoffs.

In one of the standout games of the Divisional Round, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host NFC West winners the Rams on Sunday.

The defending Super Bowl champions were beaten by the Rams on the road in Week 3 of the regular season but have home advantage this time around after claiming the number two seed in the NFC.

Tampa Bay eased to a 31-15 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Round, while the Rams also encountered few problems in beating the Arizona Cardinals 34-11.

A star Rams defense, which includes the likes of cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive tackle Aaron Donald, held Arizona to just 183 yards.

It was the second-fewest total yards allowed in a playoff game in franchise history, behind only their 1989 Championship Game win over Tampa Bay.

Brady does not need any reminders about how difficult it is to play the Rams, who have won seven of their last eight meetings against the Bucs.

"It's a very, very challenging team," Brady told reporters ahead of the game. "Really good offense, tremendous defense, really well-coached, great specialists, so it can be very, very difficult game for us.

"It's a very talented football team, obviously one of the great teams in the NFL.

"This team does a lot of good things well. Obviously they rush the passer well, they cover you really well in the secondary, get a lot of turnovers - they sack the quarterback, strip sacks. 

"They have a lot of dynamic players. Obviously, Jalen Ramsey is one of the great corners in the league. So between the guys that they have in the secondary as well as the front, you know that you have no place that you can take off. 

"These guys are they can turn you over. They can make big plays like they did the other night when David Long got the pick six [against Arizona]."

Brady and the Bucs will take lessons from the 34-24 regular season defeat, but the veteran quarterback does not believe it can be factored in too much due to both teams changing since then.

He added: "All these games are a little bit independent from one another. 

"Any time you know your opponent, that always gives you a little bit of understanding of kind of what they do well and things you wish you would have done. 

"But it doesn't really matter what happened in October when we played them last. It's really about this game and what we learned from last game.  

"We had a very different team and I think it was a little bit of a different team they had too. It is going to require its own individual performance."

Last season the Bucs put a strong run together to finish the regular season that continued into postseason glory.

Brady, who is now three wins away from winning an eighth Super Bowl, was asked how he always seems to find another gear once the NFL season gets to December and beyond.

"For all of us, it's repeating good process – that is the important part about getting this time of year," added the 44-year-old.

"You don't do much different, you just do more of which got you here. The things that work we do more of and you try to eliminate all the other distractions. 

"I won't do anything extra this week. I just want to do football. That's all I want to do to prepare and get ready. That is how we should all approach it. 

"This isn't the time for trips to the movie theatres, it is time to lock in on football because this is all we have - three days left [of the season] and we have got to earn more. 

"So you just look at it like that, everything you can kind of put off till the end of the year. We just certainly hope the end of the year is not on Sunday night."

The win over the Eagles was Brady's 18th career playoff win by double digits. 

He has more playoff wins by double digits (18) and by single digits (17) than any other QB has total playoff wins (second is Joe Montana with 16 wins).

Carmelo Anthony says LeBron James' early-season prediction that the Los Angeles Lakers would emerge victorious like Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers is proving true.

The Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook during the off-season and brought in the likes of Anthony, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan and Trevor Ariza.

After some underwhelming results, the Lakers hit form with four wins in a row to start 2022 before losing 127-119 to in-form Memphis Grizzlies last time out.

It was a similar story for Brady in his first year with the Bucs last time out when 7-5 overall before their season truly took off, culminating in a 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Sitting seventh in the Western Conference with a record of 21-20, Anthony agrees with James' comparison that the Lakers could be heading for similar success.

"Just from the standpoint of starting off slow and having new guys on the team, a new system, guys trying to figure it out, guys trying to figure out how to play with LeBron and [Anthony Davis] and now incorporating Russ and just now everybody figuring out what their role is," he said. 

"And what made it beautiful for the Bucs is that once it came together, it came together and you saw what happened with that."

Anthony has averaged 13.2 points across his 41 games for the Lakers this season – the fourth most behind Westbrook (19), Davis (23.3) and James (28.9), and similar to the 13.4 averaged in his final year with the Portland Trail Blazers.

With the Lakers now halfway through their campaign, Anthony admits it was always going to be a long-term process after plenty of close-season changes.

"It was just kind of preparing ourselves for whatever happens, whatever comes along," he said when reflecting on the past three months.

"I think we were, I don't want to say prepared for those [difficult] moments and those times mentally and emotionally, but yeah, those were conversations that were happening."

The Lakers have back-to-back road games coming up against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday and the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians says it would be a "travesty" if 44-year-old quarterback Tom Brady does not win the MVP award.

Brady had 485 completions from 719 passing attempts for 5,316 yards and 43 touchdown passes across the regular season, which was the league-best across all categories.

The Bucs QB becomes the third quarterback following Drew Brees (2018) and Peyton Manning (2013) to lead the league in all four major statistical categories since 1991. Brady's 485 completions was an NFL single-season record.

Brady produced a three-touchdown display in the Bucs' 41-17 win over the Caroline Panthers on Sunday to reinforce his credentials with the home crowd chanting "MVP!".

"I think if he doesn't get it, it's a travesty," Arians told reporters on Monday. "Most completions ever, 5,000 yards, touchdowns - the whole nine yards. To me, it's not even a close race."

Brady's 5,316 passing yards was also the third-most in NFL history, beating his own personal record of 5,235 yards from 2011.

Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski said: "It just shows what his work ethic is, how dedicated he is to the game of football and just how talented he is.

"Just his determination week in and week out - it's just unbelievable. And it's just surreal how he's pulling it off at age 44 and just coming out here like he's in his 20s still, just winging that ball, zipping it where it needs to be, making fantastic throws week in and week out."

Gronkowski added: "Tom's the MVP every year. Just the way he adjusts on the fly to his personnel, just trying to get the ball into the best players' hands or the best matchup on that current play - he's just always ready to go no matter what the situation is. He's the MVP every year."

Tom Brady was thrilled to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claim the number two seed in the NFC as he set his sights on the playoffs after reaching a host of new landmarks in Week 18.

The defending Super Bowl champions responded to a turbulent week following the release of Antonio Brown with a comprehensive 41-17 home win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

It meant the Bucs finished at 13-4, a franchise record for victories, and were 7-1 at home, their overall record tying that of the Green Bay Packers for the best in the NFL.

The win, coupled with a defeat for the Los Angeles Rams against the San Francisco 49ers, meant the Bucs improved their seeding in the last game of the season.

While some teams opted to rest their star players going into the playoffs, Brady stayed on the field until the fourth quarter, completing 29 of 37 passes for three touchdowns.

The quarterback's 5,316 passing yards for the 2021 season is his best career total – and the third-highest tally ever recorded in NFL history - while his 43 TDs for the year set a new Bucs record.

Brady became only the second QB in history, along with Drew Brees, to have multiple 5,000-yard seasons.

He also broke a record previously held by Brees (471 in 2016) for the most pass completions in a season, finishing up with 485.

With history made, Brady will now set his sights on the Bucs repeating as Super Bowl champions, which would give him a historic eighth world title if achieved.

They start against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Wild Card Round, and moving ahead of the Rams means they would also be at home in the Divisional Round should they progress. 

"In the end it's a great achievement to get the two-seed and it just felt good to win," said Brady.

"With other teams, you can't ever control any of those things. Even thinking ahead for the next game [in the playoffs] – you are worrying about two games from now. 

"Even if the Rams had won, I'm not worried about two games from now, I'm worried about one game from now, which is the Eagles.

"We've still got the Eagles and that's going to be the biggest game of our season. If we win, whoever we play, wherever we play, we are still going, and that's what we want to do."

On the win over the Panthers, he added: "We got off to a little bit of a rough start but we found a way to get some rhythm, and when we do that it's pretty good. 

"We did a good job of taking care of the football, did a good job with penalties, good job in the red area, good job on third downs. We're going to have to keep it going."

Brady was not the only Bucs player to reach a significant milestone in Week 18.

Wide receiver Mike Evans (six catches for 89 yards and two TDs) extended his own record for the most consecutive seasons (eight) with at least 1,000 receiving yards to begin a career in the NFL.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had seven catches for 137 yards, now has 32 career games with 100+ receiving yards, meaning he now stands alone above Tony Gonzalez atop the all-time list for his position.

Gronkowski had equalled Gonzalez last week and this was the first time since Weeks 5-6 in the 2016 season that he recorded back-to-back 100-yard games.

It is a timely run of form with star wideout Chris Godwin out injured and Brown no longer on the team.

"It's amazing the records [they set]," added Bucs coach Bruce Arians. "It seemed like there were five or six records every week.

"Thirteen wins and it hasn't been easy. We've had a lot of guys down all season so I can't say enough about our front office having a great roster."

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.

Tom Brady says being on the brink another NFL record is "a credit to everybody" on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster.

Going into the Bucs' game at the New York Jets on Sunday, Brady is within touching distance of making more history.

The veteran quarterback is looking to become just the second player ever to record 40 or more passing touchdowns in consecutive regular season campaigns.

Brady had 40 TD passes on the way to Super Bowl glory last season and sits on 37 this time around with two games to go.

The 44-year-old is looking to equal the record held by Drew Brees, who had 46 and then 43 TD passes across the 2011 and 2012 NFL seasons, but he stressed beating the Jets was his main priority.

Brady said: "All the individual stats and so forth – ultimately, it's a team sport. That's just a credit to everybody.

"Winning is the thing that I concern myself with the most and I feel like the most important thing for any quarterback is to win games.

"Just winning the game Sunday will be what I'm looking forward to. We've got to go out there and earn it."

The Bucs (11-4) have activated wide receiver Mike Evans off the COVID-19 reserve list ahead of their clash with the Jets (4-11).

"Everyone is going to have to play a role with different people in and out of the line-up," added Brady. "We've had a lot of people in and out the last few games.

"At different times you've got to adjust. Different players – Leonard [Fournette], Chris [Godwin], Mike [Evans], A.B. [Antonio Brown] has been out for a while, 'Gronk' [Rob Gronkowski].

"You've just got to try to get guys to play a role and provide the level of production that allows you to go down and score points. 

"Every week is going to be a little bit different. I don't think it's production. It's just a matter of scoring points to me. If we have to go 80 yards, we've got to go 80 yards to get the ball in the end zone. 

"If we get a turnover on the 10-yard line, it's still about scoring points. 

"We don't have to produce as many yards to score points because the defense helped us out a lot. It's really the ultimate team sport in that respect. 

"You have to do the best you can do based on the circumstances and opportunities that you are provided.

"How the defense plays, how the special teams plays, how the other team plays – all of those things factor in differently to the overall outcome of the game."

Brady was visibly angry as he and the Bucs were shutout in a divisional loss to the New Orleans Saints in primetime, but Tampa bounced back with a 32-6 road win over the Carolina Panthers last time out.

The win meant they sealed victory in the NFC South for the first time since 2007 but the Bucs are still looking to improve on their current standing as fourth seeds in the conference ahead of the playoffs.

Brady regularly faced the Jets as a member of the New England Patriots.

He is 30-7 as a starter against them in his career, good for the second-most wins by any QB against a single opponent – behind only a record Brady already holds with 33 wins over the Buffalo Bills.

Brady is 7-0 in his last seven against the Jets, winning by an average of 23.3 points.

Crowds came flocking back in force, we had the full complement of golf majors and tennis grand slams, and sport almost ran smoothly over the past 12 months.

To boot, there were sensational moments, featuring both the biggest names in sport and some that few had heard of at this time last year.

Here, Stats Perform looks back at some of the biggest stories of the year, and the numbers that made them so remarkable.

Jacobs, the shock Tokyo Olympics sprint king

Entering 2021, Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs had a career-best of 10.03 seconds for the 100 metres. By most standards that is staggeringly quick, but at the very elite level of sprinting it ranks as only middling. To put it into some context, 34 men ran quicker than 10.03 seconds in 2021. Jacobs finished only 19th at the 2019 World Championship and few outside of athletics circles knew the name. The former long-jumper grabbed a little attention when he produced a world-leading 6.47 seconds to win the 60 metres at the European Indoor Championships in March, then he ran 9.95 for the 100m in Savona in May, but he still headed to the Tokyo Olympics as a big outsider, not expected to be a factor. Jacobs made a mockery of his lowly billing, as he powered to personal bests in the heats and semi-finals before doing so again in the final, dashing home first in 9.80 seconds to grab gold and leaving rivals gasping in astonishment. He led Italy to sprint relay gold too, a glorious double in that country's remarkable year of success.

Emma Raducan-who? From A level exams to US Open top marks

Twelve months ago – no, make that barely six – London-based Raducanu was simply not a factor in grand slam discussions. Fresh out of school, she had to fight to earn a wildcard for Wimbledon when organisers initially baulked at the idea, but they were persuaded and Raducanu went on to reach the fourth round. The teenager who was born in Canada and has a Romanian father and Chinese mother had arrived, but it was at the US Open that she roared into the history books. There was no wildcard in New York for the British youngster, but Raducanu won three qualifying matches and then raced through the main draw, defeating 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez in the title match. She did not drop a set in 10 matches and became the first women in the Open era to win 10 main-draw matches in her first two grand slams. It made her the first qualifier to win a slam and the first US Open women's singles winner since Serena Williams in 2014 to triumph at the tournament without dropping a set along the way. The $2.5million in prize money was followed by endorsement offers from across the world as Raducanu became an instant superstar. The tennis world waits to see what comes next.

No country for old men as US win Ryder Cup

The youngest Ryder Cup team ever assembled by the United States torched European hopes at Whistling Straits in September, scoring a 19-9 victory. That was the widest margin of victory by either side since Europe, rather than Great Britain and Ireland, became the USA's opposition in 1979. Dustin Johnson bounced back from losing four of his five matches in the 2018 edition to finish with a 5-0 record, just the third player in US v Europe battles to finish with a perfect record (after Larry Nelson in 1979 and Francesco Molinari in 2018). Johnson, at 37, was the oldest player on the team. European veteran Lee Westwood matched Nick Faldo's record of 11 appearances in the match, while Sergio Garcia stretched his points record from 25.5 to 28.5 as he and Jon Rahm combined well, but it was emphatically an event that belonged to the host Americans.

Veteran Mickelson still had his day 

He might have been absent for the US team's Ryder Cup triumph, but Phil Mickelson's name was up in lights again as he became the oldest winner of a men's golf major, landing the US PGA Championship title in May. At the age of 50, Mickelson caused a huge upset at Kiawah Island, scooping his sixth career major when he held off Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen on the final day. It was his only top-10 finish of the year on the PGA Tour.

Federer bagelled, Djokovic denied Golden Slam

Strange things happened in men's tennis in 2021, not least the sight of Roger Federer suffering a 6-0 'bagel' at the end of a straight-sets Wimbledon quarter-final defeat. That happened against Hubert Hurkacz in July, and it was the last match Federer played in the year. He wants to play again, and the 40-year-old believes he can, but knee surgery will keep him out of action until mid-2022 at the earliest, by his own reckoning, and that Centre Court defeat to Hurkacz could turn out to be how his eight-title Wimbledon career ends. Novak Djokovic joined Federer and Nadal on a joint-record 20 grand slam titles by cleaning up at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and he has now spent a record 353 weeks at number one, passing Federer this year. But Djokovic could not make it a Golden Slam, losing to eventual champion Alexander Zverev in the Olympic Games semi-finals, and a Grand Slam was just beyond him too, Daniil Medvedev winning his first major when he swept the Serbian in straight sets in the US Open final.

Another year, more records for Brady

At the age of 43, Tom Brady was MVP in the Super Bowl as he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in February. He now has seven Super Bowl wins behind him, another outright record, and has been MVP in the game on an unmatched five occasions. Brady, having turned 44 in August, is in the hunt for another Super Bowl ring and perhaps outright NFL MVP honours this season, although Aaron Rodgers will likely deny him the latter accolade. Still, the records keep coming for Brady. He has moved in front of Drew Brees to have the most pass completions in league history (7,200 and counting), become the first ever 15-time Pro Bowler, and in December became the first quarterback to throw 700 career touchdowns.

England's Ashes surrender calls for Root and branch review

Joe Root became the first England captain – or player, indeed – to suffer nine defeats in Tests starting in a single calendar year, in a strange 12 months for the Yorkshireman. His form with the bat has been up there with the best of his career, the 31-year-old scoring 1,708 Test runs to go third on the all-time single-year list, with only Mohammad Yousuf and Viv Richards ahead of him. Even in the Tests that England have lost, Root has made a number of handy contributions with the bat, scoring 648 runs at an average of 38.11. Overall he has scored 26 per cent of England's Test runs across the year, the highest proportion of any player for their respective team in 2021. Yet the Ashes were lost by lunch on day three of the third Test, an outrageously dismal result. Root top-scored in England's two innings in Melbourne, typically, but he cannot get a tune out of many of his team-mates, so ends the year with his future as skipper in doubt.

Curry still hot as NBA records fall

In January, LaMelo Ball became the youngest player to post a triple-double in the NBA, as the 19-year-old Charlotte Hornets prospect grabbed 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a win over the Atlanta Hawks. Come December, the Memphis Grizzlies set two records in the same game, scoring a franchise-high number of points and winning by the biggest margin in NBA history, as they handed out a 152-79 thrashing to the Oklahoma City Thunder. December was also the month when Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors set a new three-pointer record, becoming the first man to make 3,000 threes in a career after going past Ray Allen's previous NBA record of 2,973.

The Indianapolis Colts have dominated selection for the Pro Bowl with seven players named for the game due to be played on 6 February in Las Vegas for the first time.

Colts' MVP contender running back Jonathan Taylor was among five players confirmed earlier this week but he was joined by six other team-mates as the full NFC and AFC rosters were revealed on Wednesday.

Indianapolis also had center Ryan Kelly, guard Quenton Nelson, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, linebacker Darius Leonard, cornerback Kenny Moore II and special teams long snapper Luke Rhodes all selected, with the Colts enjoying a run of five wins in six games to sit second in the AFC South.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady had already been named earlier this week for a record 15th Pro Bowl, with Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray and Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers joining him as NFC QBs.

The selected AFC quarterbacks were Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert, Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson and Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes.

The Chiefs and Chargers had six players selected in total, while the Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Bucs all had five representatives.

Four rookies were selected in Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts, Chargers offensive tackle Rashawn Slater and Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons.

The NFC and AFC rosters are determined by a vote of the fans, players and coaches.

Tom Brady is to become the first player in NFL history to feature in 15 Pro Bowls after being among the first five participants named for this season's game.

The first Pro Bowlers of the 2021 season were revealed on billboards in Las Vegas, which will host the annual NFL all-star game on 6 February at Allegiant Stadium.

The other confirmed players to feature are Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams), Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams), Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts) and Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs).

Brady will overtake Peyton Manning, Tony Gonzalez, Bruce Matthews and Merlin Olsen, who all featured in 14 Pro Bowls.

The legendary quarterback has guided the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 10-4 record and first place in the NFC South, with just one more victory needed to secure the division title. Brady currently boasts the best 2021 numbers in most major passing categories, including yards (4,348), attempts (602), completions (404) and touchdown passes (36).

The 44-year-old has won more Super Bowls than any other player in history (seven) and also holds the record for most Super Bowl MVP awards (five).

The full reveal of the AFC and NFC teams for this year's Pro Bowl will take place on Wednesday.

For the first time in 15 years, a Tom Brady-led team got shut out Sunday. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' ugly 9-0 home loss to the New Orleans Saints kept the defending Super Bowl champions from clinching a return to the playoffs as their NFC South foes maintained their recent dominance in the rivalry. 

It was the seventh straight regular-season win in the series for the Saints, the last four of them coming since Brady's arrival. 

Brady's meeting with the media afterward lasted longer than some others this season, but the quarterback did not have many answers after a defeat that saw the Buccaneers fail to generate an offensive threat.

"I don't think we were much good at anything tonight," Brady told a news conference. "I wish it was just one thing; it was a lot of things.

"We've got to do better in every facet of offensive football to score points. We're not gonna win scoring no points."

The Buccaneers actually out-gained the Taysom Hill-led Saints 302 to 212, but Brady committed the only two turnovers of the game with a fumble in the third quarter and an interception late in the fourth. He also was sacked four times, all on third down. 

Brady completed just 26 of 48 passes for 213 yards as he was shut out for just the third time in his NFL career and the first time since the New England Patriots fell 21-0 to the Miami Dolphins on December 10, 2006, when the 29-year-old quarterback threw for just 78 yards. 

He was more effective than that Sunday, though his play-makers kept falling by the wayside throughout the game. 

The Buccaneers (10-4) lost receivers Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (knee) to injuries in the first half and neither returned, then saw running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) depart in the third quarter.

Asked about Tampa Bay's failure to clinch the division Sunday, head coach Bruce Arians said: "It hurts more losing all the players we lost. We lost about seven starters in this game, so I'm more concerned about that right now."

Arians said he had no updates about the severity of any individual injuries, but that the Bucs would have to figure things out before facing the Panthers in Week 15. 

"Whoever's up got to go play a little better," he said. "It doesn't matter who's available. We've got to get we got to get ready to go beat Carolina."

Brady echoed that sentiment, declining to use the Buccaneers' injuries as an excuse. 

"A lot of guys got banged up tonight but that's part of football, so we've got to try to figure out who can go in and fill out some roles and play great football," he said. 

"We just didn't execute great, obviously, just a tough night, didn't do much of anything right. So we've got to get a lot better. Got to get back to work. There's a lot of football left and see if we can go get a win next week."

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