They don't call him the greatest of all time for nothing, right? Tom Brady's knack for coming up in the clutch made an early appearance in 2021 as the Buccaneers were able to execute a game-winning drive in the final seconds of Thursday's regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, earning a dramatic 31-29 victory on Ryan Succop's 36-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining.
This outcome didn't look possible for a moment following Chris Godwin's fumble at the Dallas 2-yard line that eventually resulted in a 48-yard go-ahead field goal by Greg Zuerlein which gave the Cowboys a short-lived 29-28 lead with 1:29 left in the game.
It was at the 1:24 mark that Brady and the Bucs offense took the field from the Tampa Bay 25-yard line and began their 11-play march to win No. 1 of the 2021. Brady started the drive off with an 8-yard pass to Giovani Bernard and then threw an incomplete pass to Mike Evans that was nearly picked off by Cowboys corner Trevon Diggs. Fortunately for the Bucs, Diggs was only able to disrupt the flight path of the ball, which eventually fell to the ground. Brady again connected with Bernard for f4 yards to get them to the Tampa Bay 33-yard line.
Following a false-start penalty by Donovan Smith that backed the offense up to the Tampa Bay 32, Brady started to zero in on Rob Gronkowski, who finished his day with eight receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns.. Brady went to his trusted tight end on back-to-back plays that totaled 26 yards and brought the Buccaneers offense into Cowboys territory.
The dagger came just two plays later when Brady hit Godwin deep down the left side of the field for a 24-yard gain that had Tampa Bay to the Dallas 18-yard line. From there, Brady juiced the clock for three consecutive plays before Succop was called to hit the game-winner.
That's 57 yards traveled with just one timeout over an 84-second span to win it. Not too shabby for Brady and Co.
Brady, who played in his NFL-record 300th regular-season game -- finished his night completing 32 of his 50 pass attempts for 379 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Before he threw the three straight incompletions to kill clock, Brady was 5-for-7 for 62 yards on the game-winning drive. This was also the 49th game-winning drive of Brady's career.