TAMPA — The postgame image passed as a Norman Rockwell-Benjamin Button mashup.
Ageless quarterback Tom Brady, having punched out from another prolific day at the office, with one arm draped around 13-year-old son Jack as the pair headed to the locker room via the southwest tunnel Sunday afternoon.
On days like this — heck, on most any day — Bruce Arians says he struggles to distinguish the two.
“Every day he comes to practice, he’s 12,” the Bucs coach said following another historic Brady effort in Tampa Bay’s 45-17 romp over the Dolphins. “I think it’s Jack out there instead of him. He’s like an old kid every day.”
Brady may not feel so pubescent Monday morning; the heavily-taped right thumb he injured late in the first half just might be throbbing. Recovery periods tend to increase when you’re in your fifth decade.
So how to explain him never down-shifting from fifth gear?
Dinged thumb and all, Brady finished 30-of-41 for 411 yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions and a 144.4 rating. In a 21-plus-season career that could occupy a whole wing in Canton, Ohio, by itself, it’s the first time Brady, 44, has thrown for 400 yards and five touchdowns in the same contest.
“So much inspiration from Tom,” said his top target Sunday, 33-year-old Antonio Brown (seven catches, 124 yards, two TDs).
“Constant professional, constant leader. Making sure not only that he’s doing his job, but making sure all other 10 guys are doing their job. He never ceases amazing me. He just continues to up his standard and raise the bar.”
Brady appeared to sustain the injury when his hand hit a Dolphins helmet on a completion to tight end Cameron Brate deep in Miami territory late in the first half. CBS cameras later caught him submerging the hand in what appeared to be an ice bucket between possessions.
“In my younger days, I probably would never have shown you guys that I wrapped it up, because I probably would’ve tried to keep it a secret,” he said afterward. “But I think in my old age I don’t care as much.”
Four plays following the incident, Brady found Brown across the middle for a 4-yard touchdown.
Then in the second half, he went 13-of-16 for 175 yards with scoring tosses of 34 and 22 yards to Mike Evans. Sandwiched between was a 13-yard scramble in the first half’s waning seconds, setting up a futile 60-yard Bradley Pinion field-goal try.
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In his last three games, America’s oldest teenager has 30 yards on eight carries.
“Most of the guys in the NFL can probably make 30 yards on a run like that,” he joked. “I can turn a 30-yarder into 10 yards better than anybody.”
Seems he can go from 44 to 24 pretty effortlessly also.
“He gets the ball off fast,” Dolphins defensive tackle Raekwon Davis said. “He’s quick and he reads coverages well, and he gets the ball off real fast.”
Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls
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