Brady throws for 4 TDs, Bucs pull away from Falcons 44-27

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) calls a play against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

TAMPA, Fla. – Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are heating up at the right time. Hardly surprising where Brady is concerned.

The six-time Super Bowl champion threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns Sunday, helping the playoff-bound Bucs clinch the fifth seed in the NFC with a 44-27 regular season-ending win over the Atlanta Falcons.

But the team's fourth straight victory, which means the Bucs (11-5) will face the NFC East champion, Washington or the New York Giants, on the road in the club’s first postseason game in 13 years, may have come with a steep cost.

Star receiver Mike Evans was carted to the locker room with a left knee injury late in the first quarter and did not return.

Evans was hurt one play after a 20-yard reception made him the first player in NFL history to begin a career with seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He went down trying to make a catch in the end zone and was carted to the locker room after first trying to walk off with assistance from a trainer.

“It meant the world for him to get that record and, then, to have an easy touchdown," Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “The turf was really slick in the end zone. It was just a freaky thing. Knock on wood, we don’t think there is any serious damage, but we will know more in the next 24 hours.”

Brady threw touchdown passes of 29 and 4 yards to Chris Godwin. The 43-year-old quarterback also teamed with Antonio Brown on scoring plays of 25 and 30 yards to finish with a franchise-record 40 in his first season with the Bucs.

Brady joined Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Dan Marino as the only players with multiple seasons of at least 40 TD passes. Rodgers has done it three times, the others twice.