Peyton Manning takes shots at Tom Brady over pass to Gronk, fourth down confusion

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady threw a pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski that appeared to find Gronk between three Green Bay defenders and drew praise as a great pass on the game broadcast. But Peyton Manning says it wasn’t a great pass at all.

On the Detail show Manning does for ESPN, Manning broke down the play and said Brady was actually trying to hit Mike Evans — and then Manning took another shot at Brady for appearing not to realize it was fourth down on the Bucs’ last play of their loss to the Bears.

“Do you think Tom was throwing to Gronk?” Manning asked. “Troy Aikman thought he was. Thought it was one of the best throws he made all game. I’m not so sure. I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’s coming out here to Evans.”

Manning broke down Brady’s options on the play and what was going through Brady’s mind.

“I’m going to throw kind of a high ball to Evans that’s going to be Evans’ ball or nobody else’s, but guess who runs right underneath it? It’s Gronk,” Manning said. “Will we get Tom to admit who he was throwing to? I don’t think so. He wouldn’t admit that he didn’t know it was fourth down. There’s no way he’s going to admit he wasn’t throwing to Gronk, especially after Aikman says, What an unbelievable throw.”

Manning said that because reporters aren’t allowed in NFL locker rooms this year, Brady isn’t getting the scrutiny he otherwise would.

“You don’t have to explain it, especially via these Zoom interviews these guys are getting to do,” Manning said. “How lucky are these guys? No press conferences with reporters right in your face, asking you, Who were you throwing to? Why did you take that sack? Were you going for it on fourth down? Did you know it was fourth down? The Zoom interviews, they’re easy to do, so you don’t have to explain it.”

Manning may have been partially joking about Brady, with whom he has long had a friendly rivalry. But there also seemed to be some truth in what Manning was saying, that he thinks Brady has gotten a pass for some big mistakes this season.