By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — One of the greatest duos in NFL history added to their catalog of accomplishments on Sunday afternoon.
In the midst of a wholly lopsided blowout for the Buccaneers over Philadelphia, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski connected for a touchdown to put the game all the way out of reach for the Eagles.
It came just before the midway point of the third quarter, with the Buccaneers already leading 17-0. The Bucs had gained possession near midfield after a muffed punt by Jalen Reagor, and with a screen pass to Giovani Bernard for 22 yards and an intermediate shot to Mike Evans for 17 yards, the Bucs were quickly on the doorstep of the goal line.
On first-and-goal from the 2-yard line, the Bucs ran a play-action fake, leaving Gronkowski completely uncovered in the back of the end zone. Brady connected with his favorite target on the easy layup.
TOMMY + GRONKY = 6️⃣
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) January 16, 2022
The touchdown reception was the 15th of Gronkowski’s postseason career, moving him slightly closer to the NFL’s all-time leader. Jerry Rice owns that title with 22 touchdowns in 29 playoff games. Gronkowski has 15 touchdowns in 21 playoff games played.
This touchdown gave Gronkowski some more separation from the rest of the pack. John Stallworth ranks third all time in playoff touchdown receptions, with 12, and there’s a five-way tie for fourth place, with a quintet of pass catchers having 10 career playoff touchdown receptions.
In terms of active players, Travis Kelce ranks second in the category with nine playoff touchdown receptions entering this year’s postseason.
Gronkowski also moved up a spot into fourth on the all-time list for playoff receiving yards, sitting behind Jerry Rice, Julian Edelman and Michael Irvin. He moved past Reggie Wayne for third on the all-time list for playoff receptions, now putting him behind only Rice and Edelman. (The common denominator for both Edelman and Gronkowski is, of course, Tom Brady.)
Brady and Gronkowski also added to their own record for most postseason touchdown connections between a quarterback and pass catcher.
Most Passing Touchdowns in Playoffs
QB-Pass Catcher Duo, NFL History
1⃣ Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski = 15
2⃣ Joe Montana to Jerry Rice = 12
3⃣ Brett Favre to Antonio Freeman = 10@Buccaneers
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) January 16, 2022
Tom Brady connects with Rob Gronkowski for a 2-yard touchdown. Brady's 84 passing touchdowns are the most in NFL postseason history.
Gronkowski's 15 receiving touchdowns are the second-most in NFL postseason history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.
— Buccaneers Communications (@BuccaneersComms) January 16, 2022
Brady and Gronkowski also gained some ground in the quest to match or pass Peyton Manning for most touchdown connections of all time (regular season and playoffs combined). In that quest, they now have 105 touchdowns together, nine fewer than Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison had in Indianapolis.
In the midst of winning his 35th career playoff game on Sunday, Brady completed 29 of his 37 passes for 271 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Bucs won, 31-15, advancing to the divisional round next weekend.