Considering where Tampa Bay is right now, a trip to play the Raiders in Week 7 just felt fitting. The Bucs have their sights set on a Super Bowl run, so what better team to play along the way than the team they beat in Super Bowl XXXVII for their first Lombardi Trophy almost two decades ago? And what better team to play after the rumored signing of Antonio Brown than the team he was supposed to be a big part of in 2019 before things went haywire? For one reason or another, Bucs-Raiders simply seemed right this week, even if it had to be bumped from its original Sunday Night Football slot due to COVID-19 precautions.
Despite the buzz surrounding the Bucs heading into Sunday’s game, the Raiders were sure to be a tough out. They were coming off of a bye week and before that, they had taken down the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs back in Week 5, winning 40-32. Things have been clicking for Derek Carr and the Raider offense in their first season in Las Vegas, as they entered Sunday sixth in points per game, sixth in total offense, fifth in passing offense and 13th in rushing offense. Their offensive DVOA numbers are near the top of the league as well, but the defense has been a problem. It’s why Jon Gruden’s team is 3-2, as the two losses came in games where it gave up 36 and 30 points, respectively. Nonetheless, after a win over Kansas City and a week off, Vegas was looking to keep things rolling against a team that has been the talk of the league lately.
The Bucs entered Sunday afternoon’s game as 4.5-point road favorites, with ESPN’s FPI giving them a 56.2% chance to emerge victorious and get to 5-2 ahead of their Week 8 Monday Night Football matchup against the Giants.
The Raiders looked good early in the game, taking 7-0 and 10-7 leads, but the Bucs eventually grabbed momentum and took a 21-10 led into halftime. Vegas kept things interesting in the third quarter, but a 21-3 run in the fourth quarter resulted in a 45-20 victory for Tampa Bay.
Las Vegas won the coin toss and elected to defer, a decision that immediately paid off as the Tampa Bay offense quickly went three-and-out to start the game. After a 43-yard punt to the Raiders’ 30-yard line, Derek Carr and his offense took the field. A short run by Josh Jacobs on first down preceded a 28-yard connection between Carr and Nelson Agholor that got the ball across midfield with ease. A couple of plays later, Carr found Darren Waller for a 15-yard gain to the Bucs’ 25. Then, after another short run by Jacobs, the Raiders found the end zone. Agholor beat Lavonte David in coverage for a 21-yard score and with the PAT, the home team had a quick 7-0 lead.
Starting from their own 23, the Bucs got back to work. The Raider defense stood tall on the first two downs to force a 3rd & 5, but Tom Brady converted it with a 28-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski, who fumbled the ball but eventually recovered it himself for a couple more yards. Ronald Jones II took it from there, picking up 13 yards on his next run before getting nine and eight more yards on the following two carries. From the 20, Brady picked up another first down, thanks to a nice 12-yard catch by Tanner Hudson to get inside the 10. After a second-down pass to Leonard Fournette set up a 3rd & Goal, Brady punched it in with a quarterback sneak. With Ryan Succop’s PAT, the Bucs tied it at 7-7 after a 10-play, 77-yard drive that lasted 4:18.
The second possession for Tampa Bay’s defense looked like it was going to be much better, with the Raiders coming up short on 3rd & 1 thanks to an incomplete pass to Waller, with Carlton Davis tight in coverage. However, Vegas faked a punt on 4th & 1 and converted for a fresh set of downs. A few plays later, facing another third down, Carr completed a short pass to rookie Henry Ruggs III, who took it the rest of the way for a 29-yard gain to the Bucs’ 30. Carr then continued to pick apart the defense, finding Agholor for nine yards on 2nd & 13 before the first quarter came to an end with things tied at seven apiece.
Starting the second quarter with a 3rd & 4 at Tampa Bay’s 24-yard line, the Raiders got the benefit of a booth review after the officials initially ruled that Carr had fumbled due to pressure from Shaquil Barrett. Ndamukong Suh recovered it and returned it for 59 yards, but it was called back replay showed that it was an incomplete pass. So, instead of a turnover, Las Vegas took a 10-7 lead on a 42-yard field goal by Daniel Carlson.
The Bucs began their next drive with a short run by Jones and a screen to Scotty Miller for a first down, but a drop by Jones, a six-yard catch by Fournette and an incompletion intended for Fournette led to another Pinion punt. This one was a good one, going 49 yards before landing out of bounds at the Vegas 9-yard line.
The Raiders found some breathing room on the first play of their next series, with Carr hitting Agholor for six yards to the 15. Another third-down conversion followed shortly after, with Waller catching an 11-yard pass to the 27. The Buccaneer defense stepped up from there, though, with Devin White getting to Carr for no gain to force a 3rd & 10. And on that third down, Anthony Nelson pressured Carr into an incompletion, leading to a punt, which was fielded at the 15 by Jaydon Mickens.
The Bucs opened up their next drive with an 11-yard pass to Fournette, who initially bobbled the ball before managing to secure it for the first down. A couple of plays later, Brady linked up with Chris Godwin for 16 yards to the 43. Fournette then broke free on the next play for a 24-yard pickup before another big gain on a pass from Brady to Gronkowski—a 26-yarder to the Vegas 4. Two plays later, Tampa Bay got its first lead of the game on a five-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski, which was their second touchdown connection in as many weeks. The PAT capped off an eight-play, 85-yard drive that resulted in a 14-10 lead for the visitors.
TE Rob Gronkowski scores on a five-yard pass from QB Tom Brady securing his second touchdown of the season.— Buccaneers Communications (@BuccaneersComms) October 25, 2020
Brady & Gronkowski have now connected on a touchdown pass for the 80th time, surpassing Dan Marino and Mark Clayton (79) for the fourth-most by a duo in NFL history.
The Raiders put together a nice response early on their next possession, initially getting some help from a Sean Murphy-Bunting holding call before a 21-yard dumpoff to fullback Alec Ingold got the ball to midfield. The Bucs got another big play from White after that, though, as he came through untouched for his second sack of the half. That effectively ended the drive, as Vegas had to punt a couple of plays later after a short gain on 3rd & 21.
The punt gave Tampa Bay’s offense the ball back at its own 12 with 2:19 to work with before halftime. A six-yard run by Fournette and an incompletion brought us to the two-minute warning, with the Bucs leading 14-10 ahead of a 3rd & 4.
On that 3rd & 4, Brady connected with Godwin for a first down to the 23, but the next play was a short pass to Fournette that forced the Bucs to use another timeout with 1:33 to go before halftime. After that timeout, Godwin came up with another first-down catch to the 41, then Miller picked up another 11 yards two plays later to get the ball across midfield. Brady kept working for there, eventually converting a 4th & 3 with another pass to Godwin. Then, after another spike, Brady delivered a BEAUTY of a deep ball to Miller—who made an equally beautiful catch—for a 33-yard touchdown. With the PAT, the Bucs went up 21-10 with 17 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Raiders ran one more play in the half, but they ended up heading into the locker room down by 11, content with getting the ball to open the second half.
A touchback by Pinion on the opening kickoff of the second half set the Raiders up at their 25-yard line, trailing by 11. Carr got things moving with a third-down conversion, passing to Hunter Renfrow for a gain of 15 before connecting with Ruggs for six yards. But back-to-back incompletions from there forced another Vegas punt, giving Tampa Bay a chance to add to its lead.
Starting at its own 20, the Buccaneer offense started its second half with back-to-back pickups of six yards, getting across the 30. Mike Evans finally got his first look a couple of plays later and he drew a defensive pass interference penalty for another first down. That led to a 35-yard pass from Brady to Miller, putting the Bucs at Las Vegas’ 28. Passes to Tyler Johnson and Cameron Brate them moved the ball inside the 20 to the 17-yard line. The Tampa Bay drive stalled there, though, with Jones losing three yards on first down to set the offense back. Miller caught a 10-yard pass on third down, but it wasn’t enough. Instead, the Bucs opted for a 29-yard Succop field goal to extend their lead to 24-10 halfway through the third quarter.
After getting called for just one penalty in the first half, the Bucs saw their issues resurface a bit on the Raiders’ next possession. An offsides call on Barrett negated a Mike Edwards interception before another holding call on Murphy-Bunting extended the drive. And, like clockwork, those penalty problems led to life for Vegas. A 44-yard pass from Carr to Agholor set the home team up at the 3-yard line, then Carr found Waller for a touchdown a couple plays later. Some unnecessary roughness after the score on offensive guard Gabe Jackson led to a 15-yard penalty—enforced on the kickoff—and an ejection. Nonetheless, the Raiders were within one score with 4:15 left in the third.
The Bucs went three-and-out on their next drive, keeping all of the momentum on Vegas’ side. It didn’t help that Pinion’s punt was a bad one, as it went just 36 yards to the Raiders’ 29. It was there that Carr and the offense would start their next drive, with a chance to tie things up.
Things went even further south for Tampa Bay’s defense on its next series, with Carlton Davis going down with an injury. Vegas took advantage, continuing to drive on a tired-looking Bucs defense. A third-down scramble by Carr and a 10-yard pass to Waller pushed the ball to the Bucs’ 36 as the third quarter came to an end with a potential tie game looming.
Vegas kept it going to start the game’s final quarter, with a 10-yard run by Ruggs and a six-yard catch by Jason Witten getting the offense inside the red zone. A second-down miss led to a 3rd & 4 before a three-yard pass gave Jon Gruden a decision to make. With 13 minutes left, the former Tampa Bay head coach elected to kick the field goal. Carlson connected from 36 yards out to make it 24-20 with plenty of time left.
A nice return to the 33-yard line by Mickens gave the Bucs decent field position to work with, but Jones lost three yards on first down to immediately put the offense behind the sticks. An incomplete pass intended for Evans set up a quick 3rd & 13, but a checkdown from Brady to Fournette got a much-needed first-down conversion for Tampa Bay. Fournette then got a carry and another catch to set up a 3rd & 3 before Brady missed Evans, but a defensive pass interference call extended the drive.
Evans finally got his first catch of the ball game two plays later, picking up 15 yards to the Las Vegas 22. Brady kept the pressure on the Raiders by finding Gronkowski for another six yards to the 16, with the clock ticking under eight minutes. However, an incompletion set up yet another third down, but Brady came through with another conversion. He found an open Miller for 12 yards, getting the ball down to the Raiders’ 4. That put Miller over 100 yards for the first time in his career, and it was followed by a four-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Godwin. It was Brady’s 558th regular season passing touchdown, which tied him for all-time record with Drew Brees (who is, of course, still active).
With the PAT, the Bucs had some badly needed insurance, as they led 31-20 with 7:22 to go. Their 11-play, 67-yard drive lasted 5:21, which was exactly what the doctor ordered.
On the very first play of the Raiders’ next drive, the Buccaneer defense put the game on ice. Edwards made a great play on the ball to tip it, leaving it for Antoine Winfield Jr. to come up with his first career interception.
A 23-yard pass from Brady to Godwin set up a one-yard touchdown run by Jones, which—with the PAT—extended the Bucs’ lead to 38-20 with just 6:40 to go.
The Raiders had one last shot to make it close, but a Carr scramble on 4th & 1 ended very badly, with him getting absolutely crushed by White. That sealed the game, as the Bucs got the ball back with 5:27 left, already up by 18.
Devin White’s shoulder says hello to Mr. Carr. pic.twitter.com/LeTFbTyw25— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) October 25, 2020
Just for good measure, the Bucs took the ball down the field and scored again. This time, it was Johnson making his second career touchdown catch, and it was the 559th regular season passing score of Brady’s career, which put him ahead of Brees for the all-time lead. It also extended Tampa Bay’s lead to 45-20 with 3:08 left.
The Raiders went nowhere the rest of the way, with the Buccaneer defense standing strong to close out what was ultimately a resounding 45-20 victory that got them to 5-2 and kept them atop the NFC South standings.
Bringing the W back to Tampa pic.twitter.com/SwhBDOpvSB— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) October 25, 2020
Quick Notes & Stats
- Tom Brady had a monster day, completing 33 of his 45 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns, plus he added a rushing score to make it five total for the afternoon. He is now at the top of the all-time regular season passing touchdowns list.
- Brady spread the ball around pretty well, which led to a few different receivers having big days. Scotty Miller had his first career 100-yard game, as he caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Chris Godwin looked like his normal self again, bringing in nine passes for 88 yards and a score, while Rob Gronkowski had another strong day with 62 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.
- With Leonard Fournette’s return, the streak of 100-yard rushing games for Ronald Jones II came to an end at three. Jones ran for 34 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, while Fournette totaled 50 yards on 11 carries and 47 yards on six catches.
- The Buccaneer offensive line once again kept Brady clean, allowing zero sacks for the second straight game.
- Devin White had a monster first half, racking up seven tackles (six solo) and two sacks. He finished the day with a team-high 11 tackles (nine solo) and three sacks.
- Newcomer Steve McLendon wasted no time making a strong impression in his Buccaneer debut, picking up four tackles (three solo) in the first half alone, with one going for a loss. He ended the game with five (four solo).
- Antoine Winfield Jr. came up with his first career interception in the fourth quarter.
- The Bucs outgained the Raiders 454-347 on the day and averaged 6.5 yards per play.
- Tampa Bay had just one penalty in the first half for five yards. The penalty issues resurfaced a bit in the second half, though four for 20 yards in total is still acceptable.
- The Bucs allowed under 100 rushing yards for the 13th straight game, tying the third-longest streak since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.