The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are poised to sign running back Le'Veon Bell after an injury to regular starter Leonard Fournette.

Fournette sustained a hamstring injury in the Super Bowl champions' surprise 9-0 loss to divisional rivals the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

He is expected to be placed on injured reserve and miss the rest of the regular season but should return in time for the playoffs.

Per reports from NFL.com and ESPN, the Bucs – who have a 10-4 record – will now turn to Bell, who will support Ronald Jones in filling the void left by Fournette.

Bell has been without a team since being released by the Baltimore Ravens last month and will sign pending a physical examination, which will take place on Wednesday.

The two-time first-team All-Pro played in just five games for the Ravens this season, rushing for 83 yards and two touchdowns.

He is best known for a successful five-year spell with the Pittsburgh Steelers to start his career.

After taking a year out of the NFL amid a contract dispute with the Steelers, he went on to join the New York Jets and also spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020.

The man he is replacing, Fournette, sits in a tie for ninth in the NFL with eight rushing touchdowns in 2021, while his 812 yards on the ground put him 11th.

Fournette is also yet to fumble in 171 attempts this season.

The Bucs will look to bounce back from their loss to the Saints with another divisional game as they play on the road against the Carolina Panthers on Boxing Day.

Tom Brady's team remain three games clear of the Saints atop the NFC South in their ongoing bid to repeat as Super Bowl winners.

Tom Brady is to become the first player in NFL history to feature in 15 Pro Bowls after being among the first five participants named for this season's game.

The first Pro Bowlers of the 2021 season were revealed on billboards in Las Vegas, which will host the annual NFL all-star game on 6 February at Allegiant Stadium.

The other confirmed players to feature are Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams), Cooper Kupp (Los Angeles Rams), Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts) and Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs).

Brady will overtake Peyton Manning, Tony Gonzalez, Bruce Matthews and Merlin Olsen, who all featured in 14 Pro Bowls.

The legendary quarterback has guided the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 10-4 record and first place in the NFC South, with just one more victory needed to secure the division title. Brady currently boasts the best 2021 numbers in most major passing categories, including yards (4,348), attempts (602), completions (404) and touchdown passes (36).

The 44-year-old has won more Super Bowls than any other player in history (seven) and also holds the record for most Super Bowl MVP awards (five).

The full reveal of the AFC and NFC teams for this year's Pro Bowl will take place on Wednesday.

Chris Godwin's 2021 season is over, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians revealed on Monday.

Earlier in the day, reports had suggested Godwin would miss the remainder of the regular season with an MCL sprain but could return for the playoffs.

However, in his media duties, Arians revealed the severity, and the exact nature, of the setback.

"Chris has an ACL," Arians said, "and he's done. He'll be done for the season."

Arians said the Bucs would "wait and see" on their other injured stars, including Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette, both of whom have hamstring issues.

Godwin had been on track for a career year after a strong end to 2020 in which he helped Tom Brady's Tampa to Super Bowl glory.

This year, Godwin ranks third in the NFL for catches (98) and fifth for receiving yards (1,103). He has scored five receiving TDs, along with a single rushing score.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin is expected to miss the rest of the regular season after sustaining an MCL sprain in the defeat to the New Orleans Saints.

Godwin suffered the injury in the second quarter of Sunday's shutout loss and is unlikely to feature again before the playoffs, according to NFL Network.

The Bucs could put the receiver on injured reserve, although setbacks for Leonard Fournette and Mike Evans on Sunday are not said to end their respective seasons.

Both players had hamstring issues, while Lavonte David was forced off with a foot problem.

Speaking after the game on Sunday, coach Bruce Arians said: "[The injuries were] big. It hurts more losing all the players we lost.

"We lost about seven starters in this game, so I'm more concerned about that right now. We'll wait and see [how bad the injuries are]."

Godwin is expected to be fit again for the postseason but would certainly be a big loss until then, with the Bucs having failed to clinch the NFC South in defeat to division rivals the Saints

Godwin ranks third in the NFL for catches this season (98) and fifth for receiving yards (1,103).

The Bucs at least have Antonio Brown back in contention for next week after serving his three-game ban for breaching COVID-19 protocols.

In the absence of Godwin until then, the club will be boosted by the renewed availability of Antonio Brown, who was served with a three-match suspension after violating COVID-19 protocols.

 

For the first time in 15 years, a Tom Brady-led team got shut out Sunday. 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' ugly 9-0 home loss to the New Orleans Saints kept the defending Super Bowl champions from clinching a return to the playoffs as their NFC South foes maintained their recent dominance in the rivalry. 

It was the seventh straight regular-season win in the series for the Saints, the last four of them coming since Brady's arrival. 

Brady's meeting with the media afterward lasted longer than some others this season, but the quarterback did not have many answers after a defeat that saw the Buccaneers fail to generate an offensive threat.

"I don't think we were much good at anything tonight," Brady told a news conference. "I wish it was just one thing; it was a lot of things.

"We've got to do better in every facet of offensive football to score points. We're not gonna win scoring no points."

The Buccaneers actually out-gained the Taysom Hill-led Saints 302 to 212, but Brady committed the only two turnovers of the game with a fumble in the third quarter and an interception late in the fourth. He also was sacked four times, all on third down. 

Brady completed just 26 of 48 passes for 213 yards as he was shut out for just the third time in his NFL career and the first time since the New England Patriots fell 21-0 to the Miami Dolphins on December 10, 2006, when the 29-year-old quarterback threw for just 78 yards. 

He was more effective than that Sunday, though his play-makers kept falling by the wayside throughout the game. 

The Buccaneers (10-4) lost receivers Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (knee) to injuries in the first half and neither returned, then saw running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) depart in the third quarter.

Asked about Tampa Bay's failure to clinch the division Sunday, head coach Bruce Arians said: "It hurts more losing all the players we lost. We lost about seven starters in this game, so I'm more concerned about that right now."

Arians said he had no updates about the severity of any individual injuries, but that the Bucs would have to figure things out before facing the Panthers in Week 15. 

"Whoever's up got to go play a little better," he said. "It doesn't matter who's available. We've got to get we got to get ready to go beat Carolina."

Brady echoed that sentiment, declining to use the Buccaneers' injuries as an excuse. 

"A lot of guys got banged up tonight but that's part of football, so we've got to try to figure out who can go in and fill out some roles and play great football," he said. 

"We just didn't execute great, obviously, just a tough night, didn't do much of anything right. So we've got to get a lot better. Got to get back to work. There's a lot of football left and see if we can go get a win next week."

A New Orleans Saints team missing its head coach still found a way to embarrass Tom Brady and the reigning Super Bowl champions Sunday. 

In a touchdown-free affair with little aesthetic appeal, the Saints stunned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-0 – the first time a Brady-led team has been shut out in 15 years. 

Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen served as the Saints' head coach with Sean Payton absent after testing positive for COVID-19, and his unit played an inspired game against the future Hall of Famer. 

Brady completed just 26 of 48 passes for 213 yards and had the only two turnovers of the game with a fumble in the third quarter and an interception late in the fourth. He also was sacked four times, all on third down. 

It was just the third shutout loss of Brady's NFL career and his first since the New England Patriots fell 21-0 to the Miami Dolphins on December 10, 2006, when the 29-year-old quarterback threw for just 78 yards. 

The Buccaneers (10-4) lost receivers Mike Evans (hamstring) and Chris Godwin (knee) to injuries in the first half and neither returned, then saw running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) depart in the third quarter, depriving Brady of play-makers as the game went on. 

On the other side, Taysom Hill did just enough to keep the Saints from losing, avoiding turnovers as he completed 13 of 27 passes for 154 yards and led the team with 33 yards rushing on 11 carries.

The Saints (7-7) needed all of those yards, as Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for just 28 on 20 carries. 

 

Sean Payton, head coach of the New Orleans Saints, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss their game on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Saints are still in the hunt for a playoff place at 6-7 but must now take on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers - who are 6-0 at home and 10-3 for the season so far - without their head coach on the sideline.

The Saints released a statement on Friday confirming the length of Payton's absence due to contracting COVID-19 and revealing that the 57-year-old's vaccination status.

"Saints Head Coach Sean Payton tested positive for Covid-19 and was immediately isolated," the statement read. "He has been fully vaccinated.

"Per NFL protocols, Payton will be out for 10 days unless he meets the league requirements for a fully vaccinated individual to return to the team environment.

"Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen will assume the duties of head coach for the December 19th game at Tampa Bay. Payton will return to coach the December 27th game against the Miami Dolphins."

Payton follows Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski in returning a positive test. The Browns have been hit by a major COVID outbreak and their game with the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday is reportedly in doubt.

Buccaneers quarterback Brady has not beaten the Saints in the regular season since joining Tampa Bay and will be hoping to capitalise on Payton's absence on Sunday.

The Green Bay Packers will clinch the NFC North title if they avoid defeat against the wounded Baltimore Ravens, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could win the NFC South in Week 15.

AFC North leaders Baltimore will be striving to avoid a third consecutive defeat when they face the Packers but have this week been managing quarterback Lamar Jackson's ankle sprain.

Tampa Bay can seal the division title provided they are not beaten at home by the New Orleans Saints on Monday, while the New England Patriots are among the teams looking to book a playoff spot ahead of their showdown with the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.

Stats Perform previews the standout games and the best of the rest.

Green Bay Packers (10-3) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-5)

The Ravens have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, losing by one point against the Pittsburgh Steelers and by two at the Cleveland Browns. It is the first time in franchise history the Ravens have lost consecutive games by two points or fewer.

Green Bay scored 45 points in a win over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field last week, their highest scoring output since 2014 against the Philadelphia Eagles (53-20 win). The Packers are averaging 30.7 points per game at home but 20.6 points on the road, the third-largest differential in the NFL.

Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Bears. It was his 28th career game with at least four TD passes and no interceptions, tied with Tom Brady for the most such games in NFL history including the postseason.

Davante Adams is Rodgers' top target and has gone over 100 receiving yards in three straight games. He is now tied with James Lofton for the most 100-yard receiving games in Packers history with 33.

New England Patriots (9-4) @ Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

The Patriots have conceded 13 or fewer points in each of their past five games. That is the longest such streak in Patriots history and the longest by any NFL team since 2008 (Pittsburgh, five games). 

Mac Jones and the Patriots attempted only three passes last time out in their 14-10 Week 13 win at Buffalo. Since 1950, there have been only two other instances of an NFL team attempting no more than three passes in one game: the Kansas City Chiefs (three) in a 24-10 win against the Oakland Raiders in 1968, and the Buffalo Bills (two) in a 16-12 victory over the New York Jets in 1974.

But Indianapolis know how to run the ball, too. They have gained 996 yards rushing over their previous five games, their highest total over a five-game span since gaining 1,024 in 1976. The Colts have scored 12 rushing TDs in the stretch, matching their best five-game total in the past 30 seasons. 

Through the air, Carson Wentz has had five interceptions from his 420 pass attempts this season. His interception rate (1.2 per cent) is the third-lowest among the 32 qualifying NFL quarterbacks. 

New Orleans Saints (6-7) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-3)

The Bucs have won four consecutive games and are due a victory over the Saints, having lost the past six clashes between the two teams.

Brady reached yet another landmark last week, with his 58-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman taking his tally of touchdown passes in the NFL to 700. The only other quarterback with at least 600 is former Saint Drew Brees (608).

Taysom Hill had multiple rushing touchdowns for the fourth time in his career last week and added 73 rushing yards. The only other Saints quarterback to rush for at least 50 yards and multiple TDs is Archie Manning (52 yards, 2 TDs on October 17, 1971 against the Dallas Cowboys).

Expect a fast start from Tampa. The Bucs have outscored opponents by 70 points in the first half of games this season, behind only Indianapolis (73) for the best mark in the league.

Elsewhere...

The Los Angeles Rams (9-4) are closing in on the playoffs and will have home advantage when they face the Seattle Seahawks (9-4). The Rams have won six of the past eight matchups between these teams, including a 26-17 win in Seattle in Week 5 this year.

Heinz Field will stage a battle between the Steelers (6-6-1) and a Tennessee Titans (9-4) side scenting the AFC South title. The Titans shut out an opponent for the second time in 20 seasons with a 20-0 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. 

The Cowboys (9-4) travel to lock horns with the New York Giants (4-9) with the NFC title within their grasp. Dak Prescott lost both of his starts against the Giants as a rookie in 2016 but is 8-0 in his starts against them since then. Ron Jaworksi, from 1977 to 1981, was the last QB to win nine starts in a row against the Giants.

Darrell Bevell has stepped in to take over as the Jaguars' interim head coach after Urban Meyer was fired on Wednesday. Jacksonville start life after Meyer attempting to avoid a record-breaking eighth consecutive loss to the Houston Texans, with both sides a dismal 2-11 this season.

Josh Allen does not expect the foot injury he suffered to be "a big deal" despite leaving in a walking boot after the Buffalo Bills' overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Allen saw a furious comeback effort go unrewarded as Tom Brady's 58-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman gave the Buccaneers a walk-off 33-27 win.

The Bills had fought back from 24-3 down to tie the game at 27-27 and force overtime, Allen throwing for 308 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while also rushing for 109 yards and a further score.

Despite his best efforts, the Bills dropped to 7-6 in a further dent to their hopes of beating the 9-4 New England Patriots to the AFC East title, with their prospects of even making the playoffs now in increasing jeopardy.

And there appeared to be reason for substantial concern when Allen entered his post-game media conference in a boot due to an apparent foot issue.

However, he moved to allay fears of an injury that would likely doom the Bills' season.

"Honestly, I'm not quite sure [what the injury is]," said Allen.

"I guess we'll do some more tests tomorrow [Monday]. I finished the game on it, so I don't think it's going to be a big deal."

Asked about the decision to keep him in the game despite the injury, Allen replied: "There was no way I was going out."

Though the Bills are in a precarious position, it was easy for Allen to see the positives after they erased a 21-point deficit.

"We had a good talk at half-time, guys responded well," he explained. "I'm damn proud of our team and how we fought in that second half, that's who we are.

"We wish the end result was different but I'm super proud of our guys.

"There's many teams that would have folded in that position. We want to win, we want to be great, that's the team we've gotta be going forward."

Tom Brady revelled in his "great moment" after making more NFL history but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar is focused on clinching the division title.

Brady was the hero in Sunday's 33-22 overtime victory against the Buffalo Bills – his 700th career touchdown lifting reigning Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers.

The evergreen 44-year-old became the first quarterback in NFL history to reach the milestone courtesy of his 58-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman, having also eclipsed Drew Brees for most pass completions in league history.

It was another historic outing for the record seven-time Super Bowl champion and while he savoured the achievement, Brady swiftly turned his attention to the team as they stand on the brink of their first NFC South crown in 14 years.

"It's pretty rare, you know? But it was very cool," Brady told reporters post-game after the Buccaneers improved to 10-3.

"I'd much rather not have it come down to that, but, in the end, they all count the same, you know? And we got to learn from it and we got to move on.

"Obviously, we're playing for a division championship next week which is pretty exciting for all of us."

Brady was 31-of-46 passing for 363 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, while he rushed for another score against rivals the Bills.

He maintained his dominant record against the Bills with a 33rd win over Buffalo in 36 career starts – the most in NFL history against one team by a starting quarterback.

Brady, who needed 18 completions to surpass future Hall of Famer Brees, now has 7,156 to his name.

"I don't think about those things," said Brady when asked what he is going to do with his latest record-setting paraphernalia. "People kind of tell me they happen, that's pretty cool.

"I keep some jerseys and stuff like that but yeah it's pretty neat. It's just amazing to have so many people share in all those great accomplishments that, obviously, to me, I feel like they're all team awards anyway so anyone who ever caught a touchdown pass, they're part of something pretty cool in NFL history, anyone that had a completion for that matter.

"And, obviously, the guys that came before me doing it like Dan Marino and Peyton [Manning] and Drew and some other incredible players that I always looked up to. So, this is a great moment."

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians added: "I don't think there will be any records left when he's done."

Tom Brady was the hero in another historic performance as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers superstar inspired a 33-27 overtime win against the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.

Brady – who surpassed Drew Brees for the most pass completions in league history – became the first quarterback to throw 700 career touchdowns on Sunday and that milestone 58-yard TD settled the contest with the visiting Bills in OT.

Overtime was needed after reigning Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers (10-3) squandered a 24-3 half-time lead against the Bills (7-6).

Brady had thrown for a touchdown and ran for another after Leonard Fournette's 47-yard dash set the tone for the Buccaneers in the first half before the rallying Bills silenced the home crowd.

Josh Allen (36-of-54 passing for 308 yards, two touchdowns and an interception) was the instigator for the Bills with a pair of touchdown passes in the final period, after the quarterback's third-quarter run helped reduce the deficit.

Tyler Bass' 25-yard field goal 22 seconds from the end forced OT but Brady had the final say in another memorable moment in an incredible career – the seven-time Super Bowl champion and Breshad Perriman combining for a 58-yard score in the additional period.

Brady (31-of-46 passing for 363 yards and two TDs without an interception) maintained his dominant record against the Bills – the 44-year-old's 33 wins over Buffalo in 36 career starts are the most in NFL history against one team by a starting quarterback.

 

Niners also win in overtime

Overtime was needed to settle another game on Sunday, with the San Francisco 49ers prevailing 26-23 at the Cincinnati Bengals.

In a thrilling ending, Brandon Aiyuk hauled in the winning score on a 12-yard pass from Jimmy Garoppolo before staying in bounds and leapfrogging into the endzone.

The Bengals used a 14-0 final quarter to send the game into OT but the playoff-chasing 49ers managed to see off Cincinnati.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers activated star cornerback Richard Sherman off injured reserve ahead of Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills.

Sherman had missed three games after sustaining a calf injury in warm-ups prior to the Week 10 NFL clash with the Washington Football Team.

The Super Bowl champion, who joined the Bucs in Week 4, featured in three games before suffering a hamstring injury at the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6.

But five-time Pro Bowler and three-time First-Team All-Pro Sherman – with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery to his name in Tampa – is set to return when Super Bowl champions the Buccaneers face the Bills (7-5).

The Buccaneers were 11-5 last season and they are 9-3 with five games left this term. This will be the first time Tampa Bay finish with a winning record in each of two consecutive seasons since 2007 (9-7) and 2008 (9-7), per Stats Perform.

Sunday's game will feature two of the four quarterbacks with more than 60 touchdown passes over the last two seasons in Bucs superstar Tom Brady (74) and Bills QB Josh Allen (63). The only other QBs with more than 60 passing touchdowns over that span are Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers (71) and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs (63).

Brady has a 32-3 record in his 35 career starts against the Bills. His 32 wins over Buffalo are the most in NFL history against one team by a starting quarterback.

The seven-time Super Bowl champion's 91.4 career winning percentage versus the Bills is the highest in NFL history by a starting QB against one team (minimum: 20 starts).

Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdown passes in the Bucs' victory over the Atlanta Falcons last week.

It was Gronkowski's third game with two TD catches this season and the 20th game with at least two TD receptions in his NFL career, the most among active players.

There is a new leader in the AFC after the New England Patriots' remarkable victory over the Buffalo Bills on Monday, stretching their winning streak to seven games.

But after battling the elements as well as the Bills in Buffalo, Bill Belichick's Pats have a bye in Week 14.

That allows others the opportunity to recover ground – including the Bills, who face New England great Tom Brady on Sunday. It is not a meeting they have enjoyed previously, as Stats Perform explores.

Buffalo Bills (7-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3)

Just like Belichick, Brady has enjoyed taking on the Bills – and he had plenty of opportunities to do so with the Pats in the AFC East.

Brady is 32-3 against Buffalo in his 35 career starts, with no starting quarterback in NFL history recording more wins against a single team. His .914 winning percentage in these games represents the highest by a starting QB against one team (minimum 20 starts).

Aged 44, Brady remains one of the best passers around, with a league-leading 74 TD passes over the past two seasons.

Bills QB Josh Allen is joint-third on that list (63 TDs), and Buffalo need his offense to fire, making the most of the platform afforded to him by the defense. After the 14-10 loss to the Pats, the Bills became the first team this season to lose two games in which they allowed 14 points or fewer (also 9-6 at Jacksonville).

Las Vegas Raiders (6-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (8-4)

The Chiefs are one of three 8-4 AFC teams close behind the 9-4 Pats and will back themselves to tie that record in a matchup they have dominated.

Since 2013, when Andy Reid was appointed head coach, the Chiefs are 14-3 against the Raiders, with only New England against the New York Jets (16 wins) and the Seattle Seahawks against the San Francisco 49ers (15) beating a divisional opponent on more occasions in that span.

This is a time of year in which Patrick Mahomes tends to excel, now on a record run of 19 consecutive regular season wins in QB starts in November or later, but Kansas City's turnaround on defense has been key to their recent improvement.

The Chiefs head into this game having become the first team in NFL history to have a five-game streak allowing 25 or more points and a five-game streak allowing fewer than 20 points in the same season, with the latter sequence ongoing.

Baltimore Ravens (8-4) @ Cleveland Browns (6-6)

Another 8-4 AFC rival, along with the Tennessee Titans, the Ravens again face the Browns in the tightly contested AFC North.

Cleveland's previous game – before their Week 13 bye – was in Baltimore, making them the first team since 1991 to play the same team in back-to-back regular season games, although the Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17 last year before beating them again the following week in the playoffs.

The Ravens won 16-10 in Week 12 as Browns QB Baker Mayfield completed just 48.6 per cent of his passes, meaning he now has a 2-6 career record when completing no more than half of his pass attempts.

Lamar Jackson was far from convincing in that game, tossing four interceptions, but he had his sixth career game with at least 250 passing yards and 50 rushing yards against the Steelers last week – five of those coming in 2021. The Pittsburgh game was his second loss from those six.

Elsewhere...

The Washington Football Team believe again after four straight wins to move into a playoff place at 6-6, aiming to become only the third team to start 2-6 and make the postseason. One of the previous two examples was Washington last year, who won both games against the Dallas Cowboys, teeing up a potential three-game winning streak against this week's opponents – just their third ever.

Aaron Rodgers has claimed he "owns" the Chicago Bears, and the numbers show exactly what the Green Bay Packers QB means. He is 21-5 in the regular season and 1-0 in the postseason against the Bears, who will fear this week's matchup.

The Cincinnati Bengals have painful memories of playing the 49ers, having lost 12 of 16 games against San Francisco, including two Super Bowls. Joe Burrow will hope to get back on track in the latest meeting, however, having led the league with 14 picks to this point. Boomer Esiason, with 22 in 1990, was the only previous Bengals QB to lead the league outright in interceptions.

Tom Brady hopes he and Rob Gronkowski can break the NFL record for the most regular-season touchdowns by a pair of players after combining in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 30-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Brady and Gronkowski turned back the clock, teaming up for two touchdowns to lead NFL Super Bowl champions the Bucs past the Falcons on Sunday.

It was the 89th and 90th TDs between star duo Brady and Gronkowski – moving them second on the all-time list, topped by Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (112).

"I hope we do. I look for him down there, he is a really big target most of the game," the 44-year-old Brady said when asked if he and Gronkowski would play long enough to eclipse Manning and Harrison.

"I think what makes him so amazing is to do what he does in the run game and block defensive ends. Some of the biggest and strongest guys in the world. To run routes and catch balls and be so athletic. Along with the endurance he has, it is just really amazing."

Team-mates at the New England Patriots before teaming up in Tampa and guiding the Bucs to last season's Super Bowl title, Brady and Gronkowski dazzled against the Falcons.

Gronkowski's first touchdown came via a 27-yard pass in the second quarter before Brady found the four-time Super Bowl-winning tight end with an 11-yard throw in the third period.

A record seven-time Super Bowl champion, Brady finished with four TDs on 38-of-51 passing for 368 yards and one interception as he improved to 10-0 as a starter against the Falcons.

"He kind of makes it easy on any quarterback," Brady said of Gronkowski. "He's just so big, so quick, great hands. Just does an amazing job. A great catch-and-run that he had and then I threw the fade for a touchdown, which was really cool -- he makes those pretty easy, too. I obviously love being out there with him.

"It was good to see him make those plays. He was out for quite a while this year, you know? Just seeing him back, playing great, really enjoying it -- it's really fun for me. That's the best part."

Gronkowski added: "That second touchdown definitely brought us back to the heyday -- the fade. I wasn't supposed to have a fade but he saw and just reminds me of the heyday for us."

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said of the pair: "I think when you play that long together -- I mean, like Gronk said the other day, Tom knows what he's thinking before he does.

"And it's obvious out there a couple of times Tom's thrown a couple balls and even Gronk wasn't quite ready because he knew where he was going. It's great chemistry they have."

The Los Angeles Chargers secured a huge win in the hunt for AFC playoff places as they overcame the Cincinnati Bengals 41-22 at Paul Brown Stadium.

A spirited fightback from the Bengals almost led to the Chargers blowing a 24-point lead, but Brandon Staley's men responded in the fourth quarter to pull away from the hosts and put both teams on 7-5 for the season.

Quarterback Justin Herbert was at his effervescent best, throwing for three touchdowns and completing 26 of 35 passes for 317 yards overall.

The Chargers scored a touchdown from their very first drive of the game, bravely going for it on fourth and goal as Herbert fired a pass into Keenan Allen. The extra point was missed by Dustin Hopkins, though he did succeed with a 43-yard field goal attempt shortly after.

Jamar Chase thought he was in for a Bengals TD on the next drive but inexplicably dropped Joe Burrow's pass into the hands of Michael Davis to turn it into an interception, which proved costly as the Chargers secured another TD from the resulting drive as Herbert found Allen again.

The visitors' dominance continued at the start of the second quarter as Herbert executed a huge 44-yard pass into Jalen Guyton for another TD to make the score 24-0.

The Bengals began a comeback as Burrow threw a 29-yard TD pass to Tee Higgins, before running one in himself to cut the lead to 11 points at half-time, and that momentum continued in the third quarter as they pulled it back to an eight-point ball game with a 48-yard field goal from Evan McPherson.

A second fumble of the game for Chargers running back Austin Ekeler gave the Bengals the chance to cut the lead further, which they did as Joe Mixon ran in his first TD of the day, but a Mixon fumble at the start of the fourth quarter allowed Tevaughn Campbell to run it in from 61 yards. Ekeler then made up for his fumbles with a one-yard running TD to secure the victory for his team.

Brady and Gronk roll back the years for the Bucs

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured a comfortable 30-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons, with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski combining twice for touchdowns, the first time they had done so since Week 2.

Brady's arm had a busy afternoon as he threw 19 passes in the first quarter alone, with 51 overall, completing 38 for 368 yards and four TD passes, including the two to Gronkowski.

The Bucs move on to 9-3 while the Falcons and their fading playoff hopes go to 5-7, level with the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South.

Lions finally roar after late drama

The Detroit Lions finally won a game, 364 days since they last did so, sealing a dramatic 29-27 win against the Minnesota Vikings by scoring a touchdown in the last seconds of the game.

Two touchdowns and two field goals for the Lions in the second quarter gave them a 20-6 lead at half-time, and they had an eight-point advantage going into the fourth quarter.

It seemed like it would be a gruelling near miss though as touchdowns from K.J. Osborn and Justin Jefferson put the Vikings 27-23 ahead with less than two minutes remaining, but in their last play, an 11-yard TD pass from Jared Goff to Amon-Ra St Brown sent Ford Field into ecstasy. The Lions move on to 1-10-1 while the Vikings slip to 5-7.

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