Two of the three leading pass-catchers in franchise history are currently on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' active roster, and neither is close to finished.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin went into Sunday's game at Atlanta needing 11 receptions to pass Mark Carrier for third place on the team's all-time receptions list, where he would be behind only running back James Wilder and teammate Mike Evans. Given that Godwin had only once hit 11 or more catches in his first 69 NFL games, it didn't seem likely he would make that move in Week 13. Well, he did. Not only did Godwin pass Mark Carrier to take over the third spot, he put a little distance between himself and fourth place.
Most Receptions, Buccaneers History
|5.||Warrick Dunn||1997-2001; 08||306|
Godwin only needed 11 catches to pass Carrier but he didn't stop there. In fact, he didn't stop until he had set a new bar in franchise history for receptions in a single game. Godwin's 15 catches were two more than any Buccaneer had ever had in a game before, and three more than any Tampa Bay wide receiver had ever hauled in.
Most Receptions, Single Game, Buccaneers History
|Chris Godwin||WR||at Atlanta||12/5/2021||15|
|Earnest Graham||RB||at Detroit||10/21/2007||13|
|Mike Evans||WR||at Seattle||11/3/2019||12|
|Chris Godwin||WR||at L.A. Rams||9/29/2019||12|
Godwin's 15 catches resulted in a game-high 143 receiving yards, marking the 15th 100-yard game of his career. Only Mike Evans has done that more often as a Buccaneer.
Most 100-Yard Receiving Games, Buccaneers History
Godwin's 15 catches took him all over the Mercedes-Benz turf on Sunday, but the one place he didn't visit was the end zone. Meanwhile, tight end Cameron Brate only had one catch for three yards in the contest, but it did go for a touchdown. That allowed Brate to break a tie with Godwin on the team's all-time touchdowns list and move into a tie with Kevin House for fifth place on that chart. Brate is also tied for third in team history in touchdown receptions, trailing only Evans and Jimmie Giles.
Most Total Touchdowns, Buccaneers History
Three of the Bucs' four touchdown receptions on Sunday ended up in the hands of tight ends, as Rob Gronkowski had his third two-touchdown outing of the season. Gronkowski got free for a 27-yard catch-and-run score in the second quarter then doubled up with a pretty back-corner fade for another 11-yard TD in the third period. That was the 20th multi-touchdown game of Gronkowski's career, and only one tight end has ever done that more in NFL history.
Most Multi-TD Games, Tight End, NFL History
Gronkowski's second touchdown on Sunday was the 93rd in the regular season in his career, which began in New England in 2010. In that span, Gronkowski has led all NFL players in touchdowns, even while sitting out the 2019 season in a short-lived retirement.
Most Touchdowns, NFL, 2010-21
|Adrian Peterson||7 teams*||84|
(* Peterson has played for the Vikings, Saints, Cardinals, Football Team, Lions, Titans and Seahawks.)
Gronkowski's two touchdown passes originated in the hand of Tom Brady, as almost all the scores in his illustrious career have. In fact, Brady and Gronkowski now form the second-most prolific touchdown pass duo in NFL history. Those two have hooked up for 90 scores in the regular season as the "Tommy & Gronky" show rolls on.
Most Touchdown Pass Connections for a Pair of Teammates, NFL History
|Peyton Manning||Marvin Harrison||Colts||112|
|Tom Brady||Rob Gronkowski||Patriots/Buccaneers||90|
|Phillip Rivers||Antonio Gates||Chargers||89|
Brady also threw a touchdown pass to running back Leonard Fournette for the second game in a row, giving him a total of four scoring tosses in the game, and nine in two contests against the Falcons this season. That marks the 39th time that Brady has thrown four or more touchdown passes in a single game, including the sixth time this year. That's already tied for the fourth-most games with four-plus TD passes in a season in NFL history.
Most Games with Four-Plus Touchdown Passes, NFL History
Most Games with Four-Plus Touchdown Passes, Single Season, NFL History
Brady's four touchdowns against the Falcons on Sunday pushed his season total to 34, which is the second-highest single season mark in franchise annals.
Most Touchdown Passes, Single Season, Buccaneers History
Despite playing less than two seasons so far in the red and pewter, Brady is already advancing rapidly up the team's career passing charts. On Sunday, he jumped up one spot on the Bucs' all-time touchdown pass list, and he is likely to be in second by the end of the regular season.
Most Career Touchdown Passes, Buccaneers History
Brady also padded his NFL lead in touchdown passes in 2021. He is already the oldest player ever to lead the NFL in touchdown passes in a season, with his 36 in 2015 at the age of 38. Brady also came into the weekend ranked second in the NFL in passing yards but is now the leader in that category after his 368-yard outing in Atlanta
2021 NFL Leaders in Touchdown Passes
(* Allen and the Bills play on Monday night.)
2021 NFL Leaders in Passing Yardage
Most Touchdown Passes Through First 11 Games of a Season, Bucs History
Brady's four touchdown passes came in the service of a 30-17 win in Atlanta, giving the Bucs a season sweep of their division rivals. This marks the first time that Tampa Bay has recorded two consecutive season sweeps of the Falcons since the NFC South was formed in 2002. It's likely not a coincidence that this first-team feat has occurred since the arrival of Tom Brady.
With the win on Sunday, Brady remained undefeated in 10 meetings against the Falcons, six of those with New England and four with Tampa Bay. That includes the famous Super Bowl LI, in which the Patriots came back from a 28-3 second-half deficit to beat Atlanta in overtime, 34-28. Brady has more career wins against the Falcons than the following nine teams: Chargers, Jaguars, Texans, Ravens, Jets, Bills, Raiders, Chiefs and Titans.
Brady's overall numbers against Atlanta are remarkable.
Tom Brady vs. the Falcons
Record as a Starter: 10-0
Passing Yards Per Game: 334.1
Passer Rating: 113.9
Brady's latest downing of the Falcons made him just the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to reach double-digit wins against another NFL franchise without suffering a loss.
Most Wins by a Starting Quarterback Without a Loss, Super Bowl Era
Brady's career passer rating against the Falcons is the third best in NFL history by a quarterback against a single opponent, with a minimum of 250 pass attempts required. Amazingly, the top three are all against Atlanta.
Highest Career Passer Rating Against a Single Opponent, NFL History (min. 250 pass attempts)
Before we finish, let's give the Buccaneers' offensive line some respect for making all of the above offensive accomplishments possible on Sunday. Despite dropping back a whopping 51 times against the Falcons, Brady was not sacked and was only hit one time. That's the fifth time in 12 outings this year that Brady has enjoyed a sack-free outing. Since Brady arrived in Tampa in 2020, he has started 28 regular-season games and has escaped 10 of them without being sacked. That's easily the most sack shutouts pitched by any NFL offensive line in that span.
Most Games Allowing Zero Sacks, NFL Teams, 2020-21
1. Tampa Bay: 10
2. Pittsburgh: 7
3t. Buffalo: 6
3t. Kansas City: 6
5t. Five teams tied with: 5