TOM BRADY threw four first-half touchdown passes and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinched a playoff berth by pounding the host Detroit Lions 47-7 on Saturday.
The Buccaneers (10-5) qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2007. Brady completed 22 of 27 passes for 348 yards despite sitting out the entire second half. Backup Blaine Gabbert threw two touchdown passes.
Mike Evans caught 10 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns, and Chris Godwin had five receptions for 84 yards and a score. Tight end Rob Gronkowski scored on both of his receptions.
Jamal Agnew scored on a punt return for the Lions (5-10). Detroit’s starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, injured his ankle in the first quarter and did not return. The Lions have lost seven of their last nine games.
Tampa Bay raced to a 34-0 halftime lead, scoring touchdowns on five of its first six possessions.
Brady connected with Gronkowski, who beat one-on-one coverage, from 33 yards out for the first score. The extra point was missed.
The Bucs needed only four plays to drive 80 yards on their next possession. Brady’s 47-yard hookup with Godwin set up his 27-yard scoring strike to Evans.
Leonard Fournette ran 4 yards up the middle for Tampa Bay’s third touchdown.
Later in the second quarter, the Bucs drove 91 yards in seven plays. Brady connected with Godwin, made a leaping grab in the end zone, from 7 yards out to complete that drive.
A nine-play drive finished off the Bucs’ big first half. Brady’s fourth touchdown pass of the game was snared by Antonio Brown, who scored from 12 yards out.
Lions rookie running back D’Andre Swift fumbled on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Gabbert threw a 25-yard scoring pass to Gronkowski on the next play. Ryan Succop missed another extra point, leaving the score at 40-0.
The Lions finally got on the board when Agnew returned a Bradley Pinion punt 74 yards with 9:38 remaining in the third quarter.
Gabbert threw a 22-yard scoring pass to Evans midway through the quarter. — Reuters