Tom Brady establishes NFL's 600 TD pass club — and Mike Evans gives ball away
In the history of the NHL, 20 players have scored 600 goals.
In the history of MLB, nine players have hit 600 home runs.
On Sunday, Tom Brady created the NFL's 600 club, throwing his 600th career touchdown pass at the close of the first quarter to put Tampa Bay up 21-0 against the Chicago Bears.
The historic score was nine yards, to Mike Evans just in the front of the goal line.
But Evans, unaware of Brady's achievement, chose a fan in the front row behind the end zone and gave him the ball, as he does with all of his touchdown balls. A Buccaneers official quickly ran to the fan and negotiated something to get the souvenir back — not only will it likely be headed to Canton, Ohio and the Pro Football Hall of Fame soon, but Brady might want to keep it. He's accomplished so much he probably can't remember all of his firsts and most-evers, but the first player in league history to throw 600 touchdowns is significant.
A team official hurried over to the fan and negotiated with him to have the ball returned.
"It was pretty funny," Brady told CBS' Tracy Wolfson after the game. "He was like, 'Man I'm sorry, do you want it back?' but I was like, 'They're probably going to get it anyway.' Mike does so many great things in the community. I know we got that one back; that was one I wanted to have."
Unsurprisingly, Brady deferred to his dozens of teammates when Wolfson asked about hitting No. 600.
"I believe i'm just very lucky to play with so many great players and teammates over the years; I just try to do my job as best I can," he said. "I have amazing people on the receiving end of those over 22 seasons. Nothing in this sport is done as an individual, and in the end i'm very grateful for being able to play as long as i have and play with so many great receivers."
More numbers for Brady as part of the Bucs' 38-3 win: Before exiting with 7:59 to play in the game, he was 20-for-36 for 211 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, giving him 21 TDs against just three picks this season.
And Tampa Bay is 6-1 for the first time in franchise history.
With Rob Gronkowski (ribs) and Antonio Brown (ankle) missing the game, Brady looked to Evans and Chris Godwin often, with the pair catching 13 of his 20 completions and all of his passing scores. Evans got a hat trick, his first three-touchdown game since Sept. 22, 2019 against the Giants.
Evans is coming up on his own record. Already far and away the Bucs' franchise leader in receiving touchdowns, his three on Sunday gave him he score was his 69 for his career, putting him just two behind Mike Alstott's franchise record of 71.
Tampa Bay got off to a fast start thanks to rookie Jaelon Darden. After the Bears went three-and-out to open the game, Darden's 43-yard punt return put the Bucs at the Chicago 32 for their first possession. A 15-yard defensive pass interference penalty, a 15-yard carry by Leonard Fournette and 2-yard touchdown by Fournette put the Bucs up 7-0 before three minutes had passed.
They were up 21-0 by the end of the first quarter.
"I thought we ran the ball great, the big guys up front played amazing, did a great job in pass protection [Brady was not sacked and hit just once], I had a lot of time back there," Brady said. "I missed too many throws today, we left a lot of points out there, but it was a good win. We'll learn from it, take the good, learn from the bad and move on."
Bears rookie Justin Fields struggled once again, completing 22-of-32 passes for 184 yards and five total turnovers, including three interceptions and two lost fumbles.
But his line once again wasn't much help: Fields was sacked four times, and has been taken down 22 times this season.
Once he'd taken off his helmet for the day, the CBS cameras spotted Brady signing a hat for a young fan in the front row and shaking his hand. The boy was in tears at getting a few moments with the quarterback. He had held up a sign saying "Tom Brady helped me beat brain cancer" and Brady didn't let the chance to visit pass.
Brady spoke about his young fan after the game.
Video: Tom Brady talks about giving his hat to a young Bucs fan who had a sign saying Brady had helped him beat brain cancer. pic.twitter.com/4kkAFptehe
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) October 25, 2021
"That was really sweet. Obviously a tough kid, man. Puts a lot in perspective with what we're doing on the field. In the end, it doesn't mean much compared to what so many people are put through."