Antonio Brown’s record-setting game helps Bucs top Dolphins

By Rick Stroud

TAMPA, Fla. ― Antonio Brown always has been known for his speed. On Sunday he became the fastest player to 900 career receptions.

Records are nice, but even at age 33, Brown shows no signs of slowing down.

The Bucs receiver caught two touchdowns from Tom Brady in a 45-17 win over the Dolphins. Brown finished with 124 yards on seven receptions.

Tampa Bay trailed the Dolphins 10-7 in the first quarter before Brown and Brady took over. With the Bucs facing third and 3 at their own 37-yard line, Brown lined up to Brady’s right and beat Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard over the middle of the field, taking a short pass and turning it upfield for a 62-yard touchdown reception.

The Bucs capped a 77-yard drive in the second quarter when Brown flashed in the end zone for Brady, who delivered a 4-yard touchdown strike under pressure.

Brady passed for 411 yards and five touchdowns, including strikes of 34 and 22 yards to Mike Evans in the fourth quarter.

The victory improved the Bucs to 4-1 overall heading into Thursday night’s game at Philadelphia.

The Bucs’ passing offense typically runs through Evans and Chris Godwin. But Brown, who arrived at midseason in 2020 after serving an eight-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, has been a favorite target of Brady’s.

Brown caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season a year ago, then added two more scores in the postseason, including a touchdown catch in Super Bowl 55.

Still hobbled on defense with a patchwork secondary, the Bucs struggled against the Dolphins and backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Despite injuring his hamstring in the game, Brissett’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Myles Gaskin cut the Bucs’ lead to 24-17 late in the third quarter.

The play was set up when Bucs cornerback Richard Sherman interfered with Dolphins receiver Preston Williams in the end zone.

Of course, Brady and the Bucs caught fire. Again on third down, he looked for Brown and connected on a 12-yard pass to keep the drive alive.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, running back Leonard Fournette bulled his way across the goal line on a 5-yard touchdown run to expand the Bucs lead.

The win may have come with another significant loss to the defense. Linebacker Lavonte David left with an ankle injury.

Cornerback Jamel Dean, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with a knee injury, added a fourth-quarter interception. That set up Brady’s fifth touchdown pass.

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