Tom Brady, obviously a prime candidate for the NFL MVP award – it would be the fourth of his career if he wins the vote – solidified his candidacy on Sunday with a 326-yard, three-touchdown, no-interception outing in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 41-17 win over the Carolina Panthers. That performance allowed him to finish the season as the NFL's leader in both touchdown passes and passing yards, a stunning feat for a quarterback in his age-44 campaign. Jameis Winston also led the NFL in passing yards in 2019 but this is the first time a Buccaneer has won the touchdown pass crown in any season.
2021 NFL Leaders in Touchdown Passes
2021 NFL Leaders in Passing Yardage
Brady and the Chargers' Justin Herbert recorded the 13th and 14th 5,000-yard passing seasons in 2021. Brady joins Drew Brees as the only quarterbacks ever to have multiple 5,000-yard campaigns, as he also threw for 5,235 yards with the Patriots in 2011. Brees recorded five 5,000-yard seasons. Brady's 2021 finish is the third highest single-season yardage total in NFL history, giving him two of the top four.
Most Passing Yards, Single Season, NFL History
Obviously, Brady also set the Buccaneers' single season records for passing yards and touchdown passes, in the latter case breaking his own mark from just last year.
Most Single-Season Passing Yards, Buccaneers History
Most Single-Season Touchdown Passes, Buccaneers History
Those two top touchdown seasons combine to give Brady 83 in just two seasons as a Buccaneer, which breaks a tie with Josh Freeman for the second most in team history.
Most Career Touchdown Passes, Buccaneers History
Brady finished Sunday's game with a passer rating of 130.4, his second-highest single-game mark of this season. That was the 34th time in his career that he has compiled a passer rating of 130 or better; only Brees (40), Aaron Rodgers (36) and Peyton Manning (35) have done that more often. That performance also nudged Brady's final 2021 passer rating up to 102.1, which is not a single-season Buccaneer record, thanks to a guy named Tom Brady.
Highest Single-Season Passer Rating, Buccaneers History
Brady's lofty passer rating on Sunday was due to his 326 yards on 37 attempts (8.8 yards per attempt) and his 3-0 TD-INT ratio. That was his 108th career 300-yard game; only Brees, with 123, has more. However, it is Brady who leads the way in terms of 300-yard games that also include zero interceptions. He's now accomplished that feat 66 times.
This marks just the fifth time in NFL history that a quarterback has thrown for at least 5,000 yards and tossed at least 40 touchdown passes and finished with a passer rating of 100 or better. Three of the previous four quarterbacks to accomplish that feat were named NFL MVP that season.
Seasons with 5,000+ Passing Yards, 40+ Touchdown Passes, 100+ Passer Rating, NFL History
(* Won NFL MVP award that season.)
Two of Brady's touchdown passes on Sunday were hauled in by Mike Evans, who extended his Buccaneers career touchdown record to 76. Those two scores pushed Evans' final 2021 season total to 14, setting new single-season franchise records for both touchdown catches and overall touchdowns. Evans also caught 13 touchdown passes last year and is now responsible for four of the six seasons of 12-plus TDs in team history. He is the only Buccaneer ever to catch 12 or more touchdown passes in a season and he's now done it four times in just eight NFL campaigns.
Most Touchdowns Scored, Single Season, Buccaneers History
Evans' two touchdowns came amid a six-catch, 89-yard outing. Those 89 yards gave him a final regular-season total of 1,035 receiving yards. Already the first player in NFL history to begin his career with seven straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, Evans extended that record to eight on Sunday. That eight-season streak also allowed him to join a very exclusive group – he is just the sixth player to have such a streak at any point in their careers, and four of the other five are in the Hall of Fame.
Most Consecutive 1,000-Yard Receiving Seasons, NFL History
|Jerry Rice*||49ers||11 (1986-96)|
|Tim Brown*||Raiders||9 (1993-2001)|
|Mike Evans||Buccaneers||8 (2014-21)|
|Cris Carter*||Vikings||8 (1993-2000)|
|Marvin Harrison*||Colts||8 (1999-2006)|
|Torry Holt ^||Rams||8 (2000-07)|
(* Pro Football Hall of Famers; ^ Hall of Fame Class of 2022 Finalist)
Evans is the first player in Buccaneers history to have at least four games with multiple touchdown catches in a single season. That increased his career total to 16 games with multiple TD grabs, which is tied for the second most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2014.
Most Games with Multiple Touchdown Receptions, NFL, 2014-21
The Buccaneers' other scoring catch on Sunday was made by running back Le'Veon Bell, who became the 90th different player to catch a touchdown pass from Brady. That is the highest number of touchdown pass recipients for any quarterback in NFL history. Brady did not throw a touchdown pass to the all-time leader on that 90-man list, Rob Gronkowski, but he did hook up with the tight end for seven completions and 137 yards. That was the second-highest single-game yardage total by a tight end in franchise history.
Most Single-Game Receiving Yards, Tight End, Buccaneers History
|Calvin Magee||vs. Chicago||12/7/86||143|
|Rob Gronkowski||vs. Carolina||1/9/22||137|
|Jimmie Giles||vs. L.A. Rams||11/10/85||134|
|Kellen Winslow Jr.||vs. Green Bay||11/20/11||132|
|Jimmie Giles||vs. Pittsburgh||11/9/80||128|
Gronkowski, who also had seven catches for 115 yards in a Week 17 win over the New York Jets, is now the first tight end in franchise history to have back-to-back 100-yard games. He also tied Giles' 1985 team record for tight ends with three 100-yard receiving games in a single season. Even more impressively, Gronkowski now has more 100-yard receiving games than any other tight end in the history of the league.
Most 100-Yard Receiving Games, Tight Ends, NFL History
The Buccaneers also got touchdown runs on Sunday from running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn (two yards) and wide receiver Scotty Miller (33 yards). That was the first rushing touchdown of Miller's career. Kicker Ryan Succop booted the extra point after each of the Bucs' five touchdowns and also made two of three field goal attempts to finish with 131 points on the season. That ties for the second-most in franchise history behind his own record from last season.
Most Points Scored, Single Season, Buccaneers History
Succop finished the 2021 season with 25 successful field goals in 30 tries. Over his two seasons with the Buccaneers, he has made 53 of 61 field goal attempts for a success rate of 86.9%. That is the highest career field goal rate in Buccaneers annals.
Highest Field Goal Percentage, Buccaneers History
|Connor Barth||2009-12; 15||114||136||83.8%|
|Patrick Murray||2014; 17||39||47||83.0%|