If you’re looking for one more piece to Tom Brady’s G.O.A.T argument, there’s this: He completed two forward passes on the same play Monday night (one to himself), and they both counted (sort of).
Brady attempted a pass early in the fourth quarter against the Rams that was deflected at the line of scrimmage and bounced right back into his hands. Then to avoid getting hit, Brady tossed the ball forward again, this time to Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans. It initially went down in the scorebook as a negative-9-yard completion from Brady to himself, followed by a 17-yard pass from Brady to Evans, netting eight yards. However, the official scorer eventually wrote that Brady wouldn’t get credit for anything from the first forward pass following the decline of the penalty, resulting in just a bizarre eight-yard completion to Evans.
A penalty flag flew immediately from a referee after Brady threw the ball forward for a second time. Each play from scrimmage is only allowed one forward pass, and that was a second one. But because the Rams had stopped Tampa Bay short of the first-down marker on third down, they declined the penalty, which meant the result of the play stood. That only left the scorekeepers one way to score it, with the two forward passes being allowed because in essence, Los Angeles had decided it didn’t care to call that action illegal on that given play.
ESPN currently has this scored as Tom Brady completing a negative-9 yard pass to himself, followed by a 17-yard pass to Mike Evans for two completions and a catch by Brady on the same play.
— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) November 24, 2020
Brady’s second forward pass may have actually been good strategy, whether he intended it or not. An illegal forward pass from behind the line of scrimmage doesn’t result in a loss of down. That means if Brady’s pass to Evans had resulted in a first down, the Rams would’ve accepted the penalty and given Brady another shot to convert on third down. That sure beats Brady taking a drive-ending big hit after catching his own deflected pass.
Tampa Bay trailed Los Angeles, 24-17, at the time of the play, and would go on to lose 27-24 after a game-sealing Brady interception late in the fourth quarter. Brady finished 26-of-48 passing for 216 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, being vastly outplayed by Rams quarterback Jared Goff.
Mike Evans’ fantasy owners were likely glad the official scoring turned out as it did, because it meant he got to keep an unusual eight-yard reception that wouldn’t have counted if Brady hadn’t made an illegal forward pass or if the Rams accepted the penalty. It meant Evans finished with five catches for 49 yards instead of four catches for 41 yards.
It’s just too bad for Brady that it didn’t count as a reception for him in the end. That would’ve increased his career reception total by 33 percent, from three to four. Oh well, his resume probably didn’t need it.