Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady played in his 44th playoff game on Sunday. For the fourth time, Brady threw three interceptions in a single-elimination setting.
He’s 3-1 in those four games.
All of Sunday’s picks came after Tampa Bay had built a 28-10 lead, allowing the Packers to make it extremely interesting down the stretch.
Brady’s first three-pick playoff game came in the 2006 divisional round against the Chargers; Marlon McCree’s fumble of Brady’s final interception gave the Pats a chance to steal the game, 24-21. The Patriots lost the next week to the Colts in the AFC Championship.
Brady’s second three-interception playoff game happened the following year, in a 21-12 win over the Chargers for a berth in Super Bowl XLII. The win made New England 18-0; they lost (as you may have heard) to the Giants.
Brady’s only loss in a three-pick game came in 2009, when Brady and the Patriots were blown out at home by the Ravens, 33-14.
Sunday’s interceptions from Brady came on three consecutive second-half drives. Each were his fault. The first one came when he sailed the ball toward a tightly-covered Mike Evans. The ball hung in the air long enough for safety Adrian Amons to run over to the ball and catch it. The second came on a high-throw in field-goal range to an open Evans. The ball went off the receiver’s hands, and cornerback Jaire Alexander made the pick.
The last came when Brady rushed the throw to avoid taking a blitz from safety Darnell Savage. The pass to Evans, both short of the mark and too high, was caught by Alexander.
Yes, the Buccaneers still won. Yes, Brady has gotten to a Super Bowl in his first year as a non-Patriot. Still, the mistakes easily could have cost Tampa Bay a win. But for the defense stiffening — and a questionable decision by the Packers to kick a late field goal in lieu of playing for the tie when down eight — things could have gone very differently.