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Tom Brady, Bucs Stun NFL Twitter With 'Total Meltdown' in Loss to Joe Burrow, Bengals

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 19, 2022

TAMPA, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 18: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is sacked and fumbles the ball during the third quarter in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Raymond James Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The story of Tom Brady's career will include countless chapters of individual and team brilliance.

Sunday's second half will not be one of those chapters.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemed to be in cruise control with a 17-0 lead at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. And then the visitors ripped off 34 straight points and left Raymond James Stadium with a 34-23 victory.

Cincinnati has won six in a row and is now in first place in the AFC North at 10-4. Tampa Bay is somehow still in first place in the abysmal NFC South at 6-8, but it is 1-3 in the last four and trending in the wrong direction ahead of the season's final push.

While this was billed as a potential passing-of-the-torch game between Tom Brady and Joe Burrow, the story was Tampa Bay's four turnovers in one of the worst halves of football an offense could possibly play. The turnover-fueled collapse opened the door for the comeback and drew plenty of reaction on social media:

Seth Wickersham @SethWickersham

Bucs are in a total meltdown and I'm sure Brady will pull it out with two seconds left

Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer

Time on the verge of getting its first win today. <a href="https://t.co/Cl1WJu9jii">pic.twitter.com/Cl1WJu9jii</a>

Bryan Fischer @BryanDFischer

Bucs in the 3Q: <a href="https://t.co/jQCkEHeAwR">pic.twitter.com/jQCkEHeAwR</a>

Adam Kramer @KegsnEggs

Tampa Bay third quarter gameplan <a href="https://t.co/mimZDRzGQv">pic.twitter.com/mimZDRzGQv</a>

NFL @NFL

Back-to-back takeaways for the <a href="https://twitter.com/Bengals?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Bengals</a> defense!<br><br>πŸ“Ί: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CINvsTB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CINvsTB</a> on CBS<br>πŸ“±: Stream on NFL+ <a href="https://t.co/jGmlqb2Tyq">https://t.co/jGmlqb2Tyq</a> <a href="https://t.co/ednVEWUzbe">pic.twitter.com/ednVEWUzbe</a>

Greg Auman @gregauman

Thanks to turnovers, Bengals' three scoring drives this half have gone 13, 31 and 13 yards, leading to 17 points.

NFL on CBS 🏈 @NFLonCBS

welp <a href="https://t.co/5uU6v7QPeu">pic.twitter.com/5uU6v7QPeu</a>

NFL @NFL

Takeaways on three straight drives for the <a href="https://twitter.com/Bengals?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Bengals</a> defense!<br><br>πŸ“Ί: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CINvsTB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CINvsTB</a> on CBS<br>πŸ“±: Stream on NFL+ <a href="https://t.co/jGmlqb2Tyq">https://t.co/jGmlqb2Tyq</a> <a href="https://t.co/DTW83xwG5b">pic.twitter.com/DTW83xwG5b</a>

Jake Liscow @JakeLiscow

Finally the Bengals take away a turnover worthy throw from Tom Brady with Tre Flowers making his second fantastic play of the game. <br><br>Brady has thrown 4 or 5 passes in this game that Bengals defenders have gotten their hands on either at the line of scrimmage or in coverage.

Dan Graziano @DanGrazianoESPN

Buccaneers really feeling the giving spirit of the holidays.

Andrew Siciliano @AndrewSiciliano

At this rate, Tom Brady may retire by Christmas.

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

When the Bucs get in self-destructive mode they really lean into it

Lindsay Jones @bylindsayhjones

Yeah we're going to need that camera focused on Brady for every moment of the rest of this game. No tablet is safe.

It looked like Tampa Bay may have turned the corner during a first half that saw Brady throw touchdowns to Russell Gage and Chris Godwin while Carlton Davis III picked off Burrow.

However, this is what happened in the second half:

  • Tampa Bay botches punt or fake punt snap; Bengals turn it into a field goal
  • Brady throws an interception to Tre Flowers; Burrow throws a touchdown to Tee Higgins
  • Brady loses a fumble on a sack; Burrow throws a touchdown to Tyler Boyd
  • Brady fumbles on handoff exchange to Leonard Fournette; Burrow throws a touchdown to Ja'Marr Chase
  • Brady throws an interception to Germaine Pratt

Just like that, the Bengals were ahead by double digits and never looked back.

Tampa Bay will look to get back on track on Christmas Day against an Arizona Cardinals team that is missing Kyler Murray, but Sunday's loss will surely linger.