TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Joe Burrow threw for four second-half touchdowns and the surging Cincinnati Bengals rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-23 for their sixth straight victory on Sunday.
The Bengals (10-4) retained sole possession of first place in the AFC North, with Tre Flowers intercepting Brady to set up one touchdown and Logan Wilson sacking the seven-time Super Bowl champion to force a fumble that led to another TD.
The first-place Bucs (6-8) wasted an opportunity to take a two-game lead over Carolina, Atlanta and New Orleans, who at 5-9 remain in contention for a division title in the woeful NFC South despite being assured of finishing with losing records.
Burrow began Cincinnati’s comeback from a 17-0 deficit with a field goal drive in the final 1:39 of the opening half. He threw scoring passes of 5 yards to Tee Higgins, 3 yards to Tyler Boyd, 8 yards to Ja’Marr Chase and 12 yards to Mitchell Wilcox.
Burrow finished 27 of 39 for 200 yards and an interception. After being outgained 261 yards to 83 while running just 20 plays to Tampa Bay’s 40 in the first half, the Bengals scored on drives of 13, 31, 13 and 39 yards with help from Bucs mistakes after halftime.
Brady lost for the first time in a 23-year career after leading by at least 17 points. He was 89-0 in such games before Sunday.
The 45-year-old quarterback was 30 of 44 for 312 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He was sacked once, losing a fumble that Joseph Ossai recovered to put Cincinnati in position to go ahead 20-17 on Boyd’s TD catch and Burrow’s 2-point conversion throw to Higgins with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter.
Burrow finished the Bengals’ eighth win in nine games with his pass to Wilcox, capping a 62-yard drive lasting nearly seven minutes of the last quarter.
Tampa Bay went from doing little right in a 35-7 loss to San Francisco to scoring on three of four first-half possessions, with Ryan Succop kicking 21-yard field goal on a drive that stalled at the Bengals 3 and Brady throwing TD passes of 1 yard to Russell Gage and 5 yards to Chris Godwin.
The second half was a different story, with the entire third quarter being played inside the Tampa Bay 40-yard line and Burrow converting an interception, two fumbles and a bad snap on a punt into three touchdowns and a field goal to take control of the game.
Bengals: DE Trey Hendrickson (wrist) was inactive. Also played without CBs Nike Hilton (knee) and Jalen Davis (thumb) and TE Hayden Hurst (calf). … DE Sam Hubbard (calf) left in the second quarter and did not return.
Buccaneers: All-Pro RT Tristan Wirfs missed his third straight game with a high ankle sprain after being limited in practice and listed as questionable. … WR Julio Jones (knee), DT Vita Vea (calf), CB Jamel Dean (toe), and LB Carl Nassib (pectoral) were also inactive because of injury. … S Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) left briefly in the first quarter, finished the game.
Bengals: at New England on Christmas Eve.
Buccaneers: at Arizona on Christmas night.
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