Tom Brady can do nothing in his first season with Tampa Bay to take down a theoretical plaque declaring him greatest quarterback ever to many, but the 43-year-old showed Thursday night that he can take some shine off.
Not only did Brady lose track of downs when he threw a downfield incompletion into coverage on a fourth-and-5 play, but he then lingered on the field in front of a single-game NFL night’s television audience and held up four fingers and a puzzled expression.
Next, he walked toward the referee, again holding up four fingers, then sat watching replays on a tablet before throwing it on the bench. While cameras stayed on the G.O.A.T., he ran off the field, leaving victorious Chicago quarterback Nick Foles looking for the customary quarterback postgame handshake.
In the press conference following the game, Brady failed to own up to the error, saying, “I knew we needed a chunk and I was thinking about more yardage.”
There were 38 seconds remaining with the Buccaneers trailing by one point and closing in on field-goal range at their 41-yard line. He threw 15 yards past the first-down marker on fourth and 5.
The fatal flaw was not excused so easily after Brady berated teammates a quarter earlier.
In a career of Brady precision, it was his biggest gasp-inducing error since his interception in the 2008 AFC Championship game. There is no harm done to a six-time Super Bowl champ’s legacy when he makes a mistake with a new team at age 43, but he sure could have enhanced his legacy by taking blame and shaking a hand.
“Yeah, he knew,” said Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians.
Nah, we don’t think he did coach.