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Rob Gronkowski Sets Up Residence in the End Zone

Data Crunch: In Sunday's win over Atlanta, Rob Gronkowski achieved something only one other tight end in league history has done…Also, Mike Edwards matches Ronde Barber and Tom Brady just keeps setting records


Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have always had a great connection, but this is starting to get ridiculous. They should probably relocate the set of the Tommy & Gronky show to one of the end zones at Raymond James Stadium.

In the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 48-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Brady connected with Gronkowski four more times, including a 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a one-yard score in the second period. There's a lot to unpack with these two more scores in their long shared history, but let's start with this:

With two touchdown catches in each of his last three games, dating back to Super Bowl LV, Gronkowski has become just the second tight end in NFL history to have a three-game streak with multiple touchdowns, playoffs included. The only other tight end to pull off this feat was New England's Ben Coates over the last game of the 1993 season and the first two of 1994. Gronkowski, Coates and the Baltimore Colts' Dee Mackey (1962) are the only tight ends to start a season with consecutive multi-touchdown games.

Gronkowski is the first player in Buccaneers history to have three straight games with multiple touchdown receptions.

Gronkowski is obviously in the company of tight end legends with his accomplishments, which is reflected well in the following chart. The long-time Patriot, now in his second season with the Buccaneers after a brief one-year retirement, has more multi-touchdown games than all but one tight end in league history.

Table inside Article
Tight End Team(s) Multi-TD Games
Antonio Gates Chargers 21
Rob Gronkowski Patriots, Buccaneers 19
Tony Gonzalez Chiefs, Falcons 18
Jimmy Graham Saints, Seahawks, Packers, Bears 17
four tied w/ 9

Even without playing in 2019, Gronkowski has the most touchdown catches in the NFL since his arrival in 2010, and he padded his lead on Sunday.

Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL, 2010-21

Table inside Article
Player Team(s) TDs
Rob Gronkowski Patriots, Buccaneers 90
Jimmy Graham Saints, Seahawks, Packers, Bears 82
Antonio Brown Steelers, Patriots, Buccaneers 80
Dez Bryant Cowboys, Ravens 75
Jordy Nelson Packers, Raiders 68

Brady and Gronkowski, who played together for nine seasons in New England, have hooked up for touchdowns on 102 occasions, playoffs included. They hold the record in the playoffs with 14 and are third all-time in the regular season with 88. Brady and Gronkowski are now just one behind the most prolific QB-TE scoring tandem in league annals.

Most Touchdowns by a QB-Pass Catcher Pair, NFL History

Table inside Article
Quarterback Pass-Catcher Team(s) TDs
Peyton Manning Marvin Harrison Colts 112
Phillip Rivers Antonio Gates Chargers 89
Tom Brady Rob Gronkowski Patriots, Bucs 88
Steve Young Jerry Rice 49ers 85
Dan Marino Mark Clayton Dolphins 79

Last year, Brady passed the since-retired Drew Brees for the most regular-season touchdown passes in league history. Within the next few weeks, he will also be passing Brees on the all-time passing yards list. And it is also Brees who Brady is tracking down on a pair of charts regarding multiple-touchdown games. In fact, Brady is now just two behind Brees on the lists for the most games with at least four touchdown passes and the most with at least three touchdown passes, all thanks to his second five-touchdown game as a Buccaneer.

Most Career Games with 4+ Touchdown Passes, NFL History

Table inside Article
Quarterback Team(s) TD Passes
Drew Brees Chargers, Saints 37
Tom Brady Patriots, Bucs 35
Peyton Manning Colts, Broncos 35
Brett Favre Falcons, Packers, Jets, Vikings 30
Aaron Rodgers Packers 23

Most Career Games with 3+ Touchdown Passes, NFL History

Table inside Article
Quarterback Team(s) TD Passes
Drew Brees Chargers, Saints 97
Tom Brady Patriots, Bucs 95
Peyton Manning Colts, Broncos 93
Aaron Rodgers Packers 75
Brett Favre Falcons, Packers, Jets, Vikings 72

Following Sunday's victory over Atlanta, Brady's teams have now won 34 of the 35 games in which he's tossed a quartet or more of touchdown passes, which is the most victories ever in such contests. Brady is 34-1 under those circumstances; Brees was 33-4; Manning was 32-3; Rodgers is 27-3; and Favre was 20-3.

Brady's five touchdown passes against Atlanta tied a single-game record for the Buccaneers, which he had also grabbed a share of in a Week Four win over the Los Angeles Chargers last season. Sunday's game marked the sixth game by a Buccaneers quarterback with five touchdown passes; Brady has two of them despite only playing in 18 regular-season games with the club so far. He is the only Buccaneer with two five-touchdown-pass outings.

Most Games with Five Touchdown Passes, Buccaneers History

Table inside Article
Quarterback Starts w/Bucs Five-TD Games
Tom Brady 18 2
Steve DeBerg 37 1
Josh Freeman 59 1
Brad Johnson 49 1
Jameis Winston 70 1

Overall, Brady completed 24 of 36 passes for 276 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions, compiling a passer rating of 129.2. That was the fifth time in his first 18 games as the Buccaneers' starter that Brady has finished with a passer rating of 120 or better; Tampa Bay is 5-0 in those contests. Brady is also very rapidly moving up the team's career passing yardage chart, on Sunday leaping over Jeff Garcia into ninth place.

Most Career Passing Yards, Buccaneers

Table inside Article
Quarterback Seasons Yards
Jameis Winston 2015-2019 19,737
Vinny Testaverde 1987-92 14,820
Josh Freeman 2009-13 13,534
Trent Dilfer 1994-99 12,969
Doug Williams 1978-82 12,648
Brad Johnson 2001-04 10,940
Steve DeBerg 1984-87; 92-93 9,439
Craig Erickson 1992-94 6,094
Tom Brady 2020-21 5,288
Jeff Garcia 2007-08 5,152

Brady currently leads the NFL with nine touchdown passes through the first two weeks of the season, and he is just the fifth quarterback since the 1970 merger to have at least nine TD tosses in his first two games. That is just one behind the all-time record.

Most Touchdown Passes, First Two Games of a Season, NFL, 1970-2021

Table inside Article
Quarterback Team Season TD Passes
Patrick Mahomes Chiefs 2018 10
Tom Brady Buccaneers 2021 9
Drew Brees Saints 2009 9
Peyton Manning Broncos 2013 9
Russell Wilson Seahawks 2020 9

Brady is just the fifth quarterback in league history with at least four touchdown passes in each of his team's first two games of a season, a list that also includes the Buccaneers' Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2018. Mahomes, Wilson and Drew Bledsoe have also done it. Brady also threw for four touchdowns against Detroit and Atlanta in the final two weeks of the 2020 regular season, which means he's riding a streak of four straight games with four-plus TD passes. That's just one off the all-time record.

Most Consecutive Regular-Season Games with 4+ TD Passes, NFL History

Table inside Article
Quarterback Team Dates Games
Peyton Manning Colts 10/31/04-11/25/04 5
Tom Brady Buccaneers 12/26/20-9/19/21 4
Dan Marino Dolphins 11/26/84-12/17/84 4

Two more of Brady's touchdown passes against Atlanta went to Mike Evans, who scored on a three-yard pass in the second quarter and a one-yarder in the third. Already the Buccaneers' all-time leader in scoring receptions, Evans is rapidly closing in on the team's record for overall touchdowns.

Table inside Article
Player Seasons TD TDr TDp TDrt
Alstott, Mike 1996-07 71 58 13 0
Evans, Mike 2014-21 64 0 63 1
Wilder, James 1981-89 46 37 9 1
Giles, Jimmie 1978-86 34 0 34 0
House, Kevin 1980-86 31 0 31 0

Sunday's outing marked the 13th time that Evans has recorded multiple touchdown receptions in a game, the most in franchise history and the second-most by any player in the NFL since he entered the league in 2014.

Most Games with Multiple TD Receptions, NFL, 2014-21

Table inside Article
Player Team(s) Games
Antonio Brown Steelers, Patriots, Bucs 16
Mike Evans Buccaneers 13
Davante Adams Packers 13
Odell Beckham Giants, Browns 12
DeAndre Hopkins Texans, Cardinals 11

Brady's final touchdown pass went to Chris Godwin, who moved ahead of Mike Williams on the Bucs' career chart with his 26th scoring grab. Dating back to Week 15 of last season, Godwin has now caught at least one touchdown pass in five consecutive games, which is the second-longest streak in franchise history. One more would give him a share of the record with Evans.

Most Consecutive Games with a Touchdown Reception, Buccaneers History

Table inside Article
Player Dates Games
Mike Evans 12/8/19-10/8/20 6
Chris Godwin 12/20/20-9/19/21 5
9 tied w/ 4

Brady wasn't responsible for all the scoring on Sunday against the Falcons. The last two touchdowns were the work of the Buccaneers' defense, and specifically third-year safety Mike Edwards. Edwards intercepted a pass in the right flat with eight minutes left in the game and returned it 31 yards for his first career score. He only had to wait four more minutes for his second career touchdown, as he joined Carlton Davis on a cornerback blitz and ended up with the ball in his hands after Davis had batted it in the air. Edwards strolled 15 yards to the end on that one.

That incredible four-minute feat allowed Edwards to join Buccaneer great Ronde Barber as the only two players in franchise history to record two pick-sixes in a single regular-season game. Barber did it in a 23-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 22, 2006. Dwight Smith also memorably accomplished the same feat in the Buccaneers' win over Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Edwards was the first player in the NFL with two interception return touchdowns in a game since Dec. 30, 2012, when Tennessee linebacker Zach Brown did it against Jacksonville. He is just the 27th player ever with such a game in the regular season.

The interesting twist to Edwards' accomplishment is that both pick-sixes came in the fourth quarter, something the NFL hasn't seen in almost three decades. The last player with two interception-return scores in the fourth quarter of a game was Cardinals linebacker Robert Massey, who did it against Washington on Oct. 4, 1992.

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett also had a pick off Ryan on Sunday, on a pass that Vita Vea tipped in the backfield. It was Barrett's second career interception, giving the Bucs three takeaways on the day. Since Todd Bowles took over as Tampa Bay's defensive coordinator in 2019, the team has recorded 57 takeaways, the third-most by any team in that span.

Most Team Takeaways, 2019-21

Table inside Article
1. Pittsburgh…66
2. New England…63
3. Tampa Bay…57
4. Seattle…56
5. Minnesota…55

Bowles' defense also held Atlanta to 55 rushing yards as the Bucs seek to lead the NFL in rush defense for the third year in a row. Low rushing totals against Tampa Bay's defense are the norm, as the Bucs have held 27 of their last 34 regular-season opponents below 100 yards on the ground. That's easily the most games with fewer than 100 rushing yards allowed by any team in that span.

Most Games Allowing Fewer than 100 Rushing Yards, NFL, 2019-21

Table inside Article
1. Tampa Bay…27
2. New Orleans…22
3. Indianapolis…21
4. Seattle…18
5. L.A. Rams…17

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