TAMPA, Fla. — Tom Brady quipped in a YouTube video with Rob Gronkowski last week that he could play quarterback in the NFL until he was 50 years old, claiming that “I don’t find it so difficult.” He certainly backed up his boast on Sunday.
Brady threw for 276 yards and five touchdowns, the ninth time he’s reached that mark in his career (including playoffs), as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers extend their winning streak to a franchise-record 10 consecutive games with a 48-25 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
The 44-year-old Brady improved to 9-0 lifetime against the Falcons (0-2), who’ve lost seven in a row going back to last season. Three of those setbacks have come against the Bucs (2-0), who’ve outscored their NFC South rivals 124-62 over the past 10 quarters of those outings.
Gronkowski caught a pair of TD passes for the third straight game, including the Super Bowl, as he and Brady continued to climb the career list for regular-season TDs by a passing duo with 88 — one behind Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates for second place behind Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (112).
Mike Evans also scored on receptions of 3 and 1 yards, the latter set up by Shaquil Barrett’s third-quarter interception of Boston College product Matt Ryan, who fell to 0-6 against teams led by Brady, who rallied New England from a 28-3 deficit to beat Atlanta in Super Bowl 51.
Ryan, who tossed TD passes to Calvin Ridley and Cordarrelle Patterson before running for a 2-point conversion to trim an 18-point deficit to 28-25 late in the third, threw a pair of interceptions that Mike Edwards returned for fourth-quarter TDs that broke the game open.
Since trailing the Falcons, 17-0, at halftime of their Week 15 meeting in Atlanta last December, Brady has thrown for 11 touchdowns vs. one interception in guiding the Bucs to three victories in a series that’s seen Tampa Bay win four of the past five.
Gronkowski, who spent nine seasons with Brady in Foxborough before coming out of retirement to rejoin his long-time teammate with the Bucs last year, scored on receptions of 20 and 1 yard in the first half.
Brady’s fifth TD pass, a 12-yarder to Chris Godwin with just over nine minutes remaining, put the Bucs over 30 points for a ninth straight game. Edwards scored on interception returns of 31 and 15 yards to finish the rout.
Brady completed 24 of 38 passes without an interception. He was sacked three times, losing a fumble on one of them.
Ryan finished 35 of 46 for 300 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.