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Tom Brady’s mental mistake dooms Buccaneers

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Michael Holley and Michael Smith discuss the shift in the prototype for a franchise NFL quarterback.

It’s entirely possible that Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady ran straight to the locker room after Thursday’s 20-19 loss to the Bears because of a commitment to respect the league’s COVID-19 protocols that prohibit post-game interactions within six feet of opposing players. It’s also possible he simply wanted to get the hell out of Dodge.

The latter explanation makes plenty of sense given the GOAT’s commission of a goat-in-a-bad-way mistake on the final Tampa Bay drive of the game, when he threw an inaccurate pass well down the field on fourth and five, thinking it was third and five.

Unless Brady was trying to pull a these-aren’t-the-droids-you’re-looking-for ruse on the officials, Brady’s placement of four fingers in the air and his interactions with the folks in black and white stripes reflect that he thought he had another down. He did not.

He also didn’t lose track of the downs because he’d spiked the ball to stop the clock during the four downs before the last snap. Contrary to the lifeline from Troy Aikman, there was no down wasted in that sequence to conserving time.

It’s an inexcusable mistake for any starting quarterback. It becomes even more inexcusable when the starter’s brains and experience are two of his biggest selling points.

It will be very interesting to hear how Brady and coach Bruce Arians handle this one with reporters. Arians didn’t hesitate to call Brady out after Tampa’s only other loss of the season. Will Arians publicly chastise Brady for making a very unBradylike blunder?