LeBron James believes Tom Brady should only play on in the NFL if his heart is still in it.

The season is over for Brady and there will be no Super Bowl for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a 31-14 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round on Monday.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott outshone Brady, delivering the best playoff performance of his career by completing 25 of 33 passes for 305 yards, throwing four touchdowns and rushing for another, with no turnovers.

Brady completed 35 of his personal playoff record 66 attempts for 351 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

He will have turned 46 by the time next season begins, and this is now a time for contemplation as Brady wonders whether to extend his NFL career for a further season.

After his shock retirement U-turn last March, Brady is unlikely to have rushed whatever decision he announces this time.

"Listen man, follow your heart," said Los Angeles Lakers superstar James.

"Follow your heart and your gut is going to tell you what to do."

Brady is coming off a campaign where he set an NFL record for the most pass attempts and completions in a regular season, so he may feel there is life left in his playing career.

Speaking on NBA TV, the 38-year-old James said: "That man's been doing it for 20-plus years at such a high level.

"As always, my best wishes. He's not only my favourite quarterback but also a really good, dear friend to me, so whatever he decides to do [I support him].

"I love seeing him on the field, it gives me inspiration to keep going at my age, so we'll see what happens."

Dak Prescott ignored the doubters to lead the Dallas Cowboys to the NFC Divisional Round with a 31-14 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday.

Prescott completed 25 of his 33 passes for 305 yards at Raymond James Stadium, throwing four touchdowns and rushing for another with no turnovers to record the best playoff performance of his career to date.

It was ultimately a comfortable win for Dallas to record their first postseason victory on the road in 30 years, despite sections of the media casting doubt on whether the team was ready to make an impact in the playoffs.

"Didn’t listen," Prescott said after the game. "Simply just didn’t listen to anybody else's opinions, anybody else's thoughts. [I] made sure I was conscious of what I put in my own head.

"[I've] got a great supporting cast in my team, people that believe in me. That's all that really matters to me, and just stay focused on what I can do."

It was a less successful outing for kicker Brett Maher, who made NFL history by becoming the first player to miss four extra points in one game.

The 33-year-old remarkably missed his first four attempts before finally sending his fifth effort through the posts in the fourth quarter to an almost sarcastic cheer from the Cowboys fans in attendance.

He was backed by coach Mike McCarthy to bounce back in next week's Divisional Round clash against the San Francisco 49ers though, with NBC DWF quoting McCarthy as saying: "We need to get him ready to go [for San Francisco].

"We need him. He's been super clutch for us all year."

Maher made 50 of 53 extra point attempts in the regular season, but does hold the NFL record for most 60+ yard field goals with four.

Tom Brady gave no indication about his playing future after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were beaten by the Dallas Cowboys 31-14 in the Wild Card round on Monday.

It was a tough game for the Buccaneers, failing to score in the first half as they went in at half-time trailing 18-0, and they were unable to make the Cowboys nervous down the stretch.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott produced the best playoff performance of his career, completing 25 of his 33 passes for 305 yards, throwing four touchdowns and rushing for another, with no turnovers.

Things were far more difficult for Brady, who completed 35 of his personal playoff record 66 attempts for 351 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Brady, who this season set the new NFL record for pass attempts and completions in a regular season, will be 46 years old by the time the 2023 season begins.

He made no commitment one way or the other when asked about his future during his post-game media availability.

"I'm going to go home and get a good night's sleep – as good as I can tonight," Brady said. "This has been a lot of focus on this game, so it will be just one day at a time, truly."

Brady went on to discuss why he felt the Cowboys deserved the result, and the pain of falling short.

"It's always tough, but we didn't earn it, and they did," he said. "I think that there's a part of football where sometimes you get lucky, but most of the time the team that earns it, wins.

"They played good all year, they played good tonight, they played well as a team, they're very coordinated, they played well on offense, they played well defensively... we just couldn't get enough done offensively to put any pressure on them.

"There's lessons for all of us in every year of our life. You always want every year to end great, but unfortunately sport doesn't work that way. 

"There's 32 teams in the league, and they're all very competitive, and only one is going to feel really good at the end of the year. There's many teams that won [this weekend], and there's going to be seven of the eight that don't feel great at the end of the year.

"That's why it feels good to be on top, when you win it all – it's a great feeling."

Brady is now an unrestricted free agent, and will have his choice of potential destinations if he decides to play on in 2023.

The Dallas Cowboys are through to the Divisional round after manhandling the Tampa Bay Buccaneers en route to a 31-14 drubbing in Monday's Wild Card fixture.

In a completely one-sided beatdown, the Cowboys faced almost no adversity the entire game, jumping ahead by three scores in the first half before cruising to the finish.

It was the best playoff performance of quarterback Dak Prescott's career, finding Dalton Schultz for a touchdown in both the first and second quarter, and Prescott also rushed for a touchdown to open up an 18-0 lead at the long break.

The only issue for the Cowboys was the performance of their kicker, as Brett Maher became the first player since 1976 to miss three extra points in the first half, and he missed another to begin the third period, marking five misses in a row dating back to Week 18.

But Dallas did not need the extra points, and sent Maher out once more following Prescott's fourth touchdown pass of the game, when he finally converted.

Prescott ended up completing 25 of his 33 passes for 305 yards, four touchdowns and no turnovers, adding a fifth touchdown with his legs as he tallied seven carries for 24 yards.

Tom Brady, who broke the NFL pass attempts and completions record this season, was again asked to sling it and he completed 35 of his 66 passes for 351 yards, two late touchdowns and one interception in what could be the final game of his legendary career.

The Cowboys will travel to face the San Francisco 49ers next for a chance to make the NFC Championship game.

Sean Payton is interested in the prospect of taking over as Houston Texans head coach.

Payton is eager to get back to work after leaving his New Orleans Saints role at the end of last season and has held talks with the Denver Broncos as they look for a new head coach.

The 59-year-old on Monday revealed he is set to hold talks with the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals over their vacancies.

Houston have already started interviewing in their search for a new head coach after sacking Lovie Smith and Payton thinks that could be a good opportunity.

A deal would have to be struck for Payton's next franchise to agree a compensation package with the Saints, given he remains under contract with New Orleans.

Payton stated that he has discussed with Saints general manager Mickey Loomis what sort of compensation it would take to free him up.

Asked about the Texans job on 'The Herd with Colin Cowherd', he said: "Ultimately, the compensation for the Saints would be a mid or late first-round pick.

"Each team has different ammo or different pick selections. It could be a future one where maybe you have to throw in something."

He added: "When you practice for three days with an opponent, you get a chance to meet a lot of the different personalities and people involved in the building.

"They've got really good draft capital, really good draft capital. They're in a division that you can at least say with Indy, Tennessee and Jacksonville [are games they can win].

"There's growth potential immediately there from their two or three wins they had this year.'"

Payton had a record of 152-89 during 15 seasons in charge of New Orleans, and led the franchise to their first Super Bowl title in the 2009 campaign.

Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams sustained a dislocated left kneecap during a playoff victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Williams did the damage in the second quarter of a 24-17 Wild-Card round win and was replaced by Jackson Carman.

The 25-year-old was on Monday listed as week-to-week by the Bengals, who battle the Buffalo Bills in the Divisional round at Highmark Stadium on Sunday.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said it was "hard to tell" if Williams will recover in time to take on the Bills but was impressed with the way Carman stepped in.

"I thought he did a nice job, especially being thrust in there," Taylor said. "He's gotta practice both sides during the week.

"He's practised a lot of guard this year as well. I thought given the opportunity that he had, against a tough defensive line, I thought he handled it really well."

Alex Cappa missed the game against the Ravens due to an ankle injury, but Taylor was encouraged to see him in attendance wearing a protective boot.

"I saw him curling a towel in there with his toes and he looked good," Taylor said. "It seemed like that was progress when I walked in. That was exciting for the room."

Ryan Jensen has been activated off injured reserve by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the Wild Card showdown with the Dallas Cowboys on Monday.

The center missed the entire regular season after suffering a knee injury at the start of training camp in July.

Jensen returned to practice on December 28 and is set to make a timely return for the Bucs' play-off clash with the Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium.

With Nick Leverett (knee and shoulder) doubtful to face Dallas and center Robert Hainsey (hamstring) questionable, Jensen's comeback will be a boost for Tom Brady and the Bucs.

The 31-year-old had not missed a game since signing with Tampa Bay in 2018 following a four-year stint with the Baltimore Ravens, and he was named to his first career Pro Bowl last season.

He re-signed with the Bucs in March on a three-year, $39million contract that included $23m in guarantees.

Lamar Jackson appeared to tell the Baltimore Ravens not to "neglect" him amid uncertainty over the quarterback's future.

There has been a frosty relationship between the player and the franchise after the Ravens opted against handing the 26-year-old a new five-year contract in 2022.

The Ravens' season came to a close on Sunday, when they were eliminated in the Wild Card round at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals, with Jackson not featuring due to a knee injury.

Negotiations over a new long-term deal for Jackson are reportedly set for the coming weeks, though it remains unclear whether he will remain in Baltimore.

Ahead of those talks, Jackson posted a thinly-veiled message on Instagram which read: "When you have something good, you don't play with it.

"You don't take chances losing it. You don't neglect it. When you have something good, you pour into it. You appreciate it.

"Because when you take care of something good, that good thing takes care of you too."

Securing a contract agreement will not be an easy task and even if the two parties agree terms, that may not end speculation over his future.

Should the Ravens apply a non-exclusive franchise tag, the door would be opened for Jackson to hold negotiations with other teams ahead of a possible trade.

Kirk Cousins acknowledged "probably the toughest loss" of his career after the Minnesota Vikings were beaten 31-24 by the New York Giants in the Wild Card round.

The quarterback completed 31 of 39 pass attempts, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for another, but it was his final play of the game that will be remembered most.

With 1:44 left in the fourth quarter and Minnesota fourth and eight on their own 48-yard line, Cousins threw to T.J. Hockenson, who was still five yards or so short of first-down sticks.

The alert Xavier McKinney ensured Hockenson only went backwards from there and closed the game out as the Vikings saw their last chance evaporate.

After the game, Cousins explained the thinking that went into the play, saying: "I tried to work Justin [Jefferson], but didn't feel good about putting it up to Justin and then when I went to progress I just felt like I was about to get sacked. I felt like I had to put the ball in play and cant go down with a sack. I felt I'd kick it out to T.J.

"I'd thrown short of the sticks on a few occasions in the game and even going back a few weeks, and felt throwing short of the sticks isn't the end of the world. It was obviously tight coverage so didn't have the chance to pull away.

"It's probably the toughest loss I've had in my career, so it hurts."

Coach Kevin O'Connell backed his quarterback, adding: "Looking back on it, maybe he could've been a little bit more, 'Hey, this is where you want the ball to go', but I want Kirk to play, I want him to be free out there to make good decisions.

"In the end, I look at that as much as anything that it's on me with that play call, even if we had eligibles with a chance down the field. Maybe that's always a play that could be better. That one will always stick with me."

Cousin's opposite number Daniel Jones also threw two touchdowns, completing 24 of 35 passes in the game, and was described as an "elite quarterback" by team-mate Saquon Barkley after the win.

Jones said the Giants just had to overcome early nerves, and they were able to hold out after Barkley's touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter gave them a precious lead.

"I think there were definitely some nerves going into it," he said. "We were excited. There was a lot of anticipating going into it.

"Once we settled in and started playing, it felt the same. It was just about execution and doing our job play after play. I thought as a group we did that well."

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh refused to criticise Tyler Huntley but says he failed to execute the play design leading to Sam Hubbard's game-winning fumble return TD on Sunday.

The Ravens were eliminated from the postseason 24-17 by the Cincinnati Bengals, with Hubbard's touchdown marking a 14-point swing with Baltimore pressing for a go-ahead score at the time.

The Bengals' defense held on, before Huntley tried a QB sneak on a third-and-goal, leaping into the air with both hands on the ball, but it was knocked out by Logan Wilson allowing defensive end Hubbard to recover it and race away for a 98-yard touchdown, which was the longest fumble return TD in NFL playoff history.

"We felt we had a good call," Harbaugh told reporters. "It's a push sneak play.

"It wasn’t executed. Tyler went over the top. It's a burrow play, he needs to go low on that. That's the way the play is designed. We felt like that was the best call, we just didn’t execute it right."

Huntley, starting in the absence of injured former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson, kept the Ravens in the contest with a strong performance that was praised by Harbaugh. The Ravens lost four of six games this season that Jackson did not start.

The Ravens QB threw 17-of-29 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, along with 54 rushing yards having had injury concerns coming into the game. Huntley's career-best 35-yard run had got the Ravens within the goal line before Hubbard's TD.

"Tyler Huntley coming in and playing the way he played coming off the shoulder and wrist injuries and fighting his way back on to the field," Harbaugh said. "Just giving it everything he had, that kind of performance.

"We didn’t win the game, we're disappointed in that, but I've got nothing but admiration for our guys."

Cincinnati's win means Zac Taylor is 4-1 in playoff games as Bengals head coach. The Bengals scored 14 points off two Ravens' turnovers, with QB Joe Burrow held to 209 yards on 23-of-32 passing.

"That's why you just never give up on a drive," Taylor said. "Even when it's down there, inside the two, that's what our defense, the whole redzone really over the last couple of years has been awesome from our defense. Today was no different.

"For Logan to knock that ball out, Sam to finish that off 98 yards, it really changed the momentum of the game. You're looking at a 14-point swing there, going down seven, going up seven.

"It was a challenge on offense. It's one of the better defenses we faced all year. We knew that going in and our defense really carried us in the fourth quarter. We needed that."

Sam Hubbard scored a record-breaking go-ahead 98-yard fumble return touchdown to earn the Cincinnati Bengals a thrilling 24-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens in their AFC Wild Card Game on Sunday.

Defensive end Hubbard raced clear for the longest go-ahead TD in NFL postseason history as the Ravens pressed for the lead on a third-and-goal on Tyler Huntley's QB sneak, as he leapt up to break the plane of the goalline, only for Logan Wilson to knock it out.

Hubbard's go-ahead touchdown, scored with 11:39 remaining in the fourth quarter, was also the longest fumble return TD in NFL playoff history.

Baltimore had been mounting the pressure with scores locked 17-17 with Huntley's 35-yard run, the longest of his career, pushing them to the goalline, but the Bengals' defense held up, before the fumble return TD ignited Paul Brown Stadium.

Huntley threw a final-second pass on fourth-and-20, which James Proche got a hand on, but could not hold. The Ravens QB, starting in the absence of injured former MVP Lamar Jackson, had kept his side in the game on 17-of-29 passing for 226 yards with two TD passes and one interception, adding 54 rushing yards.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow completed 23-of-32 passes for 209 yards with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown, but was sacked four times. Ja'Marr Chase had nine receptions for 84 yards.

It was a seesawing encounter with the Bengals dominating the first quarter led by Chase, before Burrow connected with the wide receiver to cap a six-minute, 10-play drive.

The Ravens hit back in the second to lead 10-9 at halftime, with Huntley finding J.K. Dobbins to score, while Burrow was sacked three times in the first half.

The two sides traded touchdowns in the third, with Burrow slithering across after Hayden Hurst thought he had scored yet fell half a yard short, before Huntley threw a 41-yard TD pass for Demarcus Robinson.

The New York Giants snapped a 10-season streak without a playoff win by defeating the Minnesota Vikings 31-24 in Sunday's Wild Card game.

New York had not won a playoff game since capping the 2011 season with the franchise's fourth Super Bowl, but they rode a pair of strong performances from their offensive centrepieces to upset the 13-4 Vikings on the road.

Quarterback Daniel Jones became the first player to ever tally 300 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and 70 rushing yards in a playoff game, while star running back Saquon Barkley had 109 yards from scrimmage and scored two rushing touchdowns.

Incredibly, neither team committed a turnover, with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins also delivering an impressive 273 yards and two touchdowns, but he was unable to produce in the fourth quarter.

It was the Vikings who scored first through a Cousins quarterback sneak from the opening drive of the game, but their lead did not even last until quarter time as Barkley and receiver Isaiah Hodges found the endzone in response.

After trading scores in the second and third periods, the Vikings pulled things level at 24-24 early in the fourth with a field goal, but Jones answered with a defining 12-play, 75-yard drive, setting up Barkley for the game-winning touchdown.

The Vikings had two drives and seven minutes to try and tie things up, but the Giants' defense rose to the occasion and closed it out.

New York will try to continue their march to the Super Bowl next week in the Divisional round against the league-leading Philadelphia Eagles (14-3).

Josh Allen thanked the Buffalo Bills defense for crucial turnovers against the Miami Dolphins that proved decisive in Sunday's 34-31 Wild Card victory.

The Bills quarterback threw two interceptions and saw a fumble recovered for a touchdown in a nervy encounter, having entered the game with just one playoff interception in 228 passing attempts.

Those turnovers allowed the Dolphins to build up steam, fighting back from a 17-point first-half deficit and then taking an early second half lead, with Allen acknowledging his mistakes after the game.

"At half time, we were just talking to ourselves, just settling down, trying to refocus," he told reporters. "The turnovers hurt us, we really let them back in the game.

"We were up 17-0 with chances and I gave them the ball two times, gave them a touchdown, they're things you can't do and you can't expect to win like that, so there's some stuff to clean up."

The Bills defense did their part though, intercepting rookie quarterback Skylar Thompson twice and making big stops to halt the Dolphins' recovery, and Allen vowed to be better for them in future games.

"Turnover margin, especially in the playoffs, is so big. It really helps us out and bails us out," he added.

"I can't praise our defense enough for playing the way they did. I put them in some tough situations today, so I've got to be better for them."

It was not just the defense who played their part in frustrating the Dolphins offense, however, with the atmosphere in Buffalo leading to errors – including a delay of game penalty that pushed Thompson's offense back to six yards instead of one in fourth down of their final drive.

Allen reserved praise for the home fans, encouraging them to be similarly effective in next week's Divisional round clash against either the Jacksonville Jaguars or the Cincinnati Bengals.

"We're going to need the Bills mafia in the building being load and disruptive, I thought they did a good job tonight causing a couple false starts and delay of games, that is such a huge momentum shift for us," he said.

"When it's fourth and one, you cause a delay, then it's fourth and six, which changes the complexity of that call, so shout out to our fans."

The Buffalo Bills booked their spot in the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs after twice seeing off comebacks from the Miami Dolphins.

Buffalo raced to a 17-point lead in the second quarter before the Dolphins responded with 17 unanswered points of their own, though the Bills would then hit 14 points to put them back in the drivers' seat.

Miami were not done though, fighting back to within a field goal, but an inexperienced offense could not capitalise, struggling to get plays off before the play clock ran down, as the Bills held on for a 34-31 victory.

First quarter touchdowns for Dawson Knox and James Cook came either side of an interception from Skylar Thompson, with Miami having just 19 yards and a solitary first down in a slow start to the game.

The Bills extended their lead with a field goal before Miami sprung into life with two field goals of their own and two interceptions on Josh Allen in the second quarter – who had just one in 228 playoff passing attempts in the playoffs before the game – as Mike Gesicki then tied the game with a seven-yard reception.

While the hosts retook the lead with a field goal before the break, the Dolphins moved ahead 24-20 early in the third quarter when an Allen fumble was recovered by Zach Sieler for a five-yard TD, putting the momentum back in the hands of the visitors.

The Dolphins could not capitalise though as Thompson, leading the offense in the absence of Tua Tagovailoa, threw five consecutive incomplete passes before being intercepted by Kaiir Elam. The Bills turned that into a Cole Beasley TD, then extended the lead with Gabe Davis' 21-yard score.

Miami pulled within a field goal through Jeff Wilson's reception and then had a huge stop on the Buffalo offense, but could not find their rhythm, receiving a delay of game penalty on a crucial fourth and one that leaves them still without a playoff victory since 2000.

Former NFL Draft number one pick Trevor Lawrence says "you couldn’t write a crazier script" after overcoming four first-half interceptions to lead the Jacksonville Jaguars to the third biggest comeback in NFL playoffs history.

The Jags trailed the Los Angeles Chargers 27-0 late in the first half with Lawrence having thrown four picks, three to Asante Samuel Jr alone.

But the 23-year-old quarterback produced a champion's response, throwing touchdown passes on four consecutive drives to drag the Jags back to 30-28, before Riley Patterson's field goal clinched victory as time expired.

Lawrence finished the game with 28-of-47 passing for 288 yards, joining Ben Roethlisberger as the second player to have four touchdowns and four interceptions in a playoff game.

"You couldn't write a crazier script," Lawrence told NBC. "We said in the locker room, it's kind of how our season's gone. We're never out of the fight."

Jacksonville had trailed by nine points or more in five games this season before rallying for victory.

The 27-point rally was also the third largest in NFL postseason history, the largest being the Buffalo Bills' 32-point comeback against the Houston Oilers in 1992.

"I am kind of speechless, honestly, just to see what belief can do - to see when a team believes in each other what you can accomplish," Lawrence said.

"Playoff game, down 27-0 and we come back and win. We are always counted out of these games, and we don't care. We love it."

Wide receiver Zay Jones, who scored one of the Jags' four TDs, hailed the 2021 NFL Draft top overall pick for staying composed after his four first-half picks.

"I think from playing football, watching football, I know a lot of quarterbacks would’ve folded in that situation that he went through," Jones told reporters.

"For him just to be as poised and composed as he was, it showed another side of who we have on this team. I mean, that guy right there, standing right there, that's a special man."

The defeat ended the Chargers' season with head coach Brandon Staley lamenting their second-half fade where they only scored one field goal after leading 27-7 at halftime.

"Anytime you're up 27-7 at halftime and you've got four takeaways, and you end up winning the takeaway margin (5-0), you know, it's gonna be a killer," Staley said.

"I'm hurting for everybody in that locker room… We just didn't finish the game."

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