TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Antonio Brown is 33 years old and no longer the top playmaker on his team. With Tom Brady’s help on and off the field, though, the oft-troubled receiver is making the most of an opportunity to revive his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brady threw for 411 yards and five touchdowns, while Brown showed no signs of slowing down as a playmaker, becoming the fastest NFL player to 900 receptions as the defending Super Bowl champions rolled to a 45-17 rout of the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
“I take so much inspiration from Tom. As a professional, as a leader, making sure that I’m doing my job, making sure that all the other 10 guys are doing their job,” said Brown, who had seven catches for 124 yards and two TDs. “He just continues to up the standard and raise the bar.”
Brady threw for more 400 yards with five TDs in the same game for the first time in his 22-year career.
Brown, who joined the Bucs at midseason a year ago after serving an eight-game suspension for violating the NFL personal conduct policy, scored on receptions of 62 and 4 yards in the first half.
Brown, who has stayed out of trouble since signing with the Bucs and helping them win the Super Bowl, joined Julio Jones, Jerry Rice, Torry Holt and Andre Johnson as the only players in league history with 12,000 career receiving yards in fewer than 150 games.
The 11th-year pro was Ben Roethlisberger’s No. 1 option for much of his career. After a brief stay in training camp with the Raiders, Brown played one game with Brady in New England before being released by the Patriots two years ago.
“I’ve played with some great quarterbacks. Roethlisberger. Tom Brady. It’s a blessing,” said Brown, one of a slew of dynamic targets on a deep, talented Tampa Bay roster also featuring Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette.
“When you got Chris and Mike, and AB’s the third guy, it’s ain’t a fair fight,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said.
Brown also extended the NFL’s longest active streak with at least one catch to 141 consecutive games and also became the fastest to 900 career receptions on his first catch of the day. He reached the milestone in 143 career games. Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison was the previous fastest at 149.
“It’s pretty amazing. Just give him a lot of credit. He’s been through a lot and he’s shown a lot of mental toughness, a lot of resilience. Everyone just wants him to succeed,” Brady said.
“We’ve got a unique group of guys. Very talented, but very selfless too,” Brady added. “All those guys are getting opportunities to make plays, and just fun to see when everyone’s involved how fun it can be.”
Since entering the league as a sixth-round draft pick of the Steelers in 2010, Brown has 45 100-yard games receiving — second in the league behind Julio Jones (59). His 19 games with multiple TD catches are tied with Gronkowski for the most over the span.
Evans had TD catches of 34 and 22 yards, and Giovani Bernard also scored on a 10-yard reception from Brady, who finished 30 of 41 with no interceptions — the third straight game the Bucs have gone without a turnover.
The Dolphins (1-4) have lost four straight following a season-opening victory over New England.
“We didn’t execute our game plan defensively. Just collectively as a defense we just didn’t do enough. I’m concerned. We’re out of sync,” Miami coach Brian Flores said. “We’ve adjusted some things, but we’re not seeing the production on Sundays.”
Jacoby Brissett completed 27 of 39 passes for 275 yards, two TDs and an interception in his third consecutive start filling in for the injured Tua Tagovailoa.
Running back Myles Gaskin scored on receptions of 1 and 37 yards for the Dolphins, who trailed 24-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
Fournette scored on a 5-yard run and Brady threw his TD passes to Evans to break the game open before being replaced by backup Blaine Gabbert with 7:06 remaining.
“It’s a tough loss. We’ve got to find a way to bounce back and move forward,” Brissett said.
“Obviously it’s cliche, it’s early in the season, but it really is,” the Dolphins quarterback added. ” We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us.”
Dolphins: WR DeVante Parker (shoulder/hamstring) was inactive after being limited in practice and listed as questionable. … Brissett appeared to tweak his hamstring scrambling for no gain in the opening quarter, but remained in the game. … TE Adam Shaheen (ankle) left the game late in the second quarter.
Buccaneers: LB Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder/hand) returned to the lineup after missing two games. CB Jamel Dean (knee) started after sitting out the previous week. … LB Lavonte David (ankle) limped off the field late in the first half and did not return.
Dolphins: travel to London to face Jacksonville next Sunday.
Buccaneers: at Philadelphia on Thursday night.
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