DETROIT (AP) — 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 Saturday, sealing a spot in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
The Bucs (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.
Tampa Bay rested Brady ahead 34-0, its largest halftime lead in franchise history. Blaine Gabbert threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski on his first snap, one play after Detroit running back D’Andre Swift fumbled, and a 22-yard pass to Mike Evans later in the third quarter.
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, 7 and 12 yards.
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 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.
Brady has thrown a franchise-record 36 touchdowns and set a personal record with 348 yards passing by halftime. Brady and Gabbert combined to throw a Bucs-record six touchdowns. Tampa Bay set team records in points (34) and yards (410) in the first half. Evans, who had 10 catches for 181 yards, scored twice to set a team record with 13 receiving touchdowns.
Tampa Bay was outscored 59-7 in the opening quarter of its past six games and looked as if it might start slow again when Brady was sacked on third down of the opening drive. Detroit, though, negated the play by being offside.
Brady took advantage. He converted the ensuing third down with a short throw before going downfield to connect with Evans on a 33-yard throw and to perfectly loft a 33-yard touchdown pass over a defender and into Gronkowski’s hands.
Detroit wide receiver coach Robert Prince made his first big decision as head coach for the day on the ensuing drive when he had the offense with a fourth-and-1 at midfield. Alas, offensive tackle Taylor Decker was flagged for a false start and the Lions punted.
Bucs: S Mike Edwards left the game with a hip injury and CB Carlton Davis (groin) was inactive.
Lions: Stafford left the game with an ankle injury after he was 2 of 3 for 17 yards on his only possession.
Bucs host on Atlanta on Jan. 3.
Lions host Minnesota on Jan. 3.