NFL roundup: Buccaneers earn playoff spot; Cardinals fall as Kyler Murray is injured
DETROIT — Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes in the only half he needed to play, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went on to rout the Detroit Lions 47-7 on Saturday, sealing a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The Buccaneers (10-5) set a franchise record with 588 yards and snapped the NFL’s second-longest postseason drought behind Cleveland’s 18-year run that can end Sunday.
“We’ve been scratching and clawing every single year to make the tournament,“ said Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans, who was drafted by the Buccaneers six years ago. “It’s been a journey, and we’re happy that we finally accomplished it.“
Tampa Bay rested Brady ahead 34-0, its largest halftime lead in franchise history. Blaine Gabbert threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski on his first snap, one play after Detroit running back D’Andre Swift fumbled, and a 22-yard TD pass to Evans later in the third quarter.
“When we do play the way we’re capable of playing, we’re pretty tough to beat,“ Brady said.
Brady was 22 of 27 for 348 yards with a mix of passes deep down the field and darts in traffic. The six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback threw touchdown passes to Gronkowski, Evans, Chris Godwin, who made a one-handed catch, and Antonio Brown from 33, 27, seven and 12 yards.
The Chargers want to avenge their Nov. 1 loss to the Broncos, but a win over Denver on Sunday likely won’t repair the damage caused by that first game.
The 43-year-old Brady, who split time with Drew Henson in college at Michigan, started his 298th game to tie Brett Favre’s record for an NFL quarterback and played in his 300th game.
The Lions (5-10) started the game without interim coach Darrell Bevell along with assistants on the defensive staff because of COVID-19 contact tracing.
And they played much of the game without quarterback Matthew Stafford. He was questionable to play with hip and thumb injuries and then hurt his right ankle on the opening drive and did not return.
Chase Daniel struggled to move the ball much for the Lions, who avoided getting shut out for the second time this season in the third quarter when Jamal Agnew returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown. Daniel was replaced in the fourth quarter by David Blough, an undrafted rookie last year.
“It’s obviously tough when you’ve got a lot of coaches shifting around, but those guys did a great job of getting us ready,“ Blough said. “No one feels sorry for us.”
49ers 20, Cardinals 12
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard threw three touchdown passes, Jeff Wilson ran for 183 yards, and San Francisco dealt a brutal blow to Arizona’s playoff hopes by defeating the Cardinals.
Beathard was making his first start since 2018 and was 1-9 as a starting quarterback before he was pressed into action against Arizona because of injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens.
The 27-year-old wasn’t amazing but avoided big mistakes. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards, Wilson earned hard yards on the ground, and the 49ers came up with two big defensive stops late in the fourth quarter, including Ahkello Witherspoon’s interception of Kyler Murray’s pass in the end zone with about five minutes left.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan wasn’t surprised by the gritty performance.
“We’re not proud of our record, we’d like to be better, but that doesn’t tell the story of who we are,“ Shanahan said.
It’s been a difficult past 12 months for Beathard, whose brother Clayton was fatally stabbed last December outside a bar in Nashville. The quarterback is popular among his teammates because of his upbeat personality despite personal and football setbacks.
“That’s why people don’t mind breaking their neck for him,” Wilson said.
The Rams could clinch a playoff berth even before they play the Seattle Seahawks, but last week’s loss to the Jets has heightened their determination to win.
Murray suffered an apparent right leg injury on the Cardinals’ final play of the game. He was hit by the 49ers’ Alex Barrett after making a throw as the Cardinals tried to rally in the closing seconds. Murray’s fourth-down throw fell incomplete, clinching San Francisco’s victory, and he rolled over in pain.
Murray lay on the field as Arizona’s trainers attended to him and limped off the field after a couple of minutes. He appeared to be in considerable pain on the Cardinals’ bench and lingered there before heading off to the locker room. Coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t have an update on the quarterback’s status after the game, saying the injury was being evaluated. The quarterback didn’t talk to reporters after the game.
The Cardinals (8-7) no longer control their own destiny in the playoff race. If the Chicago Bears win their final two games, they will reach the playoffs because of a tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
Arizona started the day positioned as the No. 7 and final team in the NFC playoff field, but the game was a struggle from the outset. The 49ers (6-9) pulled ahead 14-6 in the third quarter on Beathard’s nine-yard touchdown pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who had two TD receptions.
The 49ers were already eliminated from the playoff race one year after playing in the Super Bowl, but they appeared plenty motivated. They had several big hits on defense and pushed the pile on several Wilson runs.
Murray completed 31 of 50 passes for 247 yards with no touchdowns and the late interception. DeAndre Hopkins, the NFL’s leading receiver coming into the game, had eight catches for 48 yards.
“We know how good we can be when we play at our best,“ Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk said. “Today is just one of those days where we just didn’t play the caliber of football that we know we can play.
“We let one slip.”
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