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The Tom Brady-Bruce Arians phone call that spurred Buccaneers’ title run

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On Nov. 30, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a day removed from their third loss in four games, a defeat in Tampa to their eventual Super Bowl opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs, that dropped them to 7-5.

The struggles of the Buccaneers in general — and the offense in particular — spurred a phone call between head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Tom Brady, that according to both helped turn their season around.

The call, detailed in a story by Sports Illustrated, was initially scheduled to be a round of golf at Old Memorial Golf Club in Tampa, but NFL protocols prevented such a meeting.

Instead, Arians and Brady spoke over the phone for more than an hour to figure out how to turn the season around as they headed into their bye week.

Arians, according to SI, wanted to gear his offense more toward what Brady was comfortable with.

“I wanted him to be going down the stretch as comfortable as possible, because we had to win every game,” Arians said. “[It was] a melding of the minds.”

Arians said he told Brady, “If you don’t like it, we’re throwing it out.”

tom brady and bruce arians spoke for an hour in a phone call that changed their season
Tom Brady and Bruce Arians
Getty Images

According to the story, Brady told people he had a “great talk with B.A.” and “we’re going to get things going in the right direction.”

Famous for his “no risk-it, no biscuit’’ philosophy of throwing the ball deep, Arians listened to Brady’s wishes about using a more methodical approach. 

The lack of a preseason and reduced practice time due to COVID-19 had made the marriage more difficult, but the conversation between the two did the trick.

When the Buccaneers returned following their week off, they beat Minnesota, 26-14 and then came back from 17 points down to knock off the Atlanta Falcons. 

They finished the regular season with two more victories, scoring 47 and 44 points respectively and suddenly, Arians had a different outlook about the postseason, since before the phone call, he was planning on what the Buccaneers could do down the road — not so much for this year’s playoffs.

“This season was gonna be ‘Let’s all get together and on the same page and win it next year,’” Arians said. 

But that changed after the call and the ensuing win streak.

And that streak continued in the playoffs, with the Buccaneers scoring 30 or more points in all four of their postseason wins — including the 31-9 defeat of the Chiefs in Super Bowl 2021.

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