The Buccaneers had a harder time finishing off the Jets than anyone expected, but that’s not going to be the main storyline from Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium.
Wide receiver Antonio Brown stripped off his jersey and shoulder pads while arguing with teammates on the Bucs sideline and then stormed off the field while the game was in progress in the third quarter. Brown did not return and his status with the Bucs was the top topic of head coach Bruce Arians’ postgame press conference.
Arians said many times that Brown had made progress as a person while explaining why he revoked his one strike and you’re out policy for the troubled wideout following his three-game suspension for faking a vaccination card. Sunday’s antics suggest Arians was just seeing what he wanted to see on a team short on healthy offensive weapons heading into the playoffs, but he drew a line this time and Brown is going to be released.
The Bucs didn’t need Brown to come back from a 24-10 deficit. They scored shortly after he took his exit and won the game when Tom Brady hit Cyril Grayson for a 33-yard score with 15 seconds left in the game. The Bucs got a two-point conversion and they hung on for a 28-24 win that keeps them in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a game against the Panthers left on their schedule.
The Jets had a chance to put the game away when they went for it on fourth-and-two from the Tampa seven-yard-line on the previous drive, but they made a questionable call to try to run quarterback Zach Wilson up the middle. He went nowhere and there was plenty of time for Brady to add another comeback win to his long list of them.
Brady finished 34-of-50 for 410 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. They lost Ronald Jones to an ankle injury, which opened the door to more playing time for Le'Veon Bell but creates another injury issue on offense heading into the postseason.
Wilson was 19-of-33 for 234 yards and a touchdown as the Jets played as well on offense for most of the day as they have all year. The Bucs forced a pair of fourth quarter punts to slow their progress, however, and the final failure to convert left them with a tough loss on a day that probably deserved a better outcome.