*Whew*. A sigh of relief among Bucs fans after that one. The Buccaneers found themselves down 24-7 after allowing the Chargers to score 24 unanswered points in the first half. In fact, the Bucs allowed their opponents to score in the first quarter for the first time this season.
It was a bomb from the rookie Justin Herbert then a pick six by the Los Angeles defense that saw the Bucs in a hole early on. As Bruce Arians said, last year’s team would’ve gotten their asses kicked. This time? This time was different.
Let’s pick six on another victory Monday.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) The GOAT emerges. It was looking ugly for the Buccaneers with under a minute to go in the first half. Then, instead of running out the clock, the Chargers opted to hand the ball off to Joshua Kelley. He gets stripped by Ndamukong Suh and the fumble is recovered by Devin White. The Bucs get into the end zone thanks to a pass from Tom Brady to Mike Evans and suddenly the lead is 24-14 Chargers. The Bucs would not look back. They scored on five consecutive possessions including that last one in the second quarter and Brady was on his way to 369 yards and five touchdowns. Many were questioning the explosiveness of this offense through three weeks but when they needed it, Brady and the offense delivered.
2.) Injuries. The Bucs were already without Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette in this game. Then they saw Mike Evans leave - before returning - with an ankle injury. LeSean McCoy left the game with an injury. And finally, O.J. Howard saw his season end with a ruptured achilles. It’s heartbreaking to see Howard having such a good season to this point and it end so abrubtly. He led the tight ends in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns so it’s quite a blow to the Bucs offense. It’s unlikely that Godwin will return Thursday night against the Bears so it’s on Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate now to not just fill the void of Godwin but to replace Howard for the duration of the year.
3.) The secondary was...not good. For a group that has used their preseason 32nd ranking among secondary groups in the NFL (that’s dead last for those of you counting at home) they sure looked the part on Sunday. Against a rookie quarterback missing two key offensive linemen, his number two receiver, and their star running back, Justin Herbert completed 20 of 25 passes and had touchdowns of 72 and 53 yards. Jordan Whitehead was flagged for a late hit out of bounds, Carlton Davis kept his consecutive games with a pass interference call intact. All in all, it was a horrendous performance by the back end of the Bucs’ defense. They need to hold one another accountable and get better in a hurry.
4.) Ronald Jones takes it to 100. For only the second time in his career, RoJo finished with over 100 rushing yards when the team was without Fournette and Shady McCoy for much of the game. He got some relief from rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn who saw his first NFL touchdown come in the fourth quarter, but it was the RoJo Show all the way. Jones will have to continue to elevate his game to that level to help this offense moving forward. Averaging 5.6 yards per carry kept the Bucs in manageable down-and-distance situations for most of the second half which helped spark their comeback and saw Brady go 14-for-15 down the stretch. The threat of the run game was pivotal in the comeback on Sunday.
5.) Penalties. Enough already. Get your acts together and clean it up. Championship caliber teams don’t shoot themselves in the foot over and over with stupid penalties - especially ones that aid a 97 yard touchdown drive by the opposition. Eight penalties for 90 yards is inexcusable. Get. It. Fixed.
6.) Short week. No rest for the wicked, right? This was a big, emotional win for the Bucs but they have to immediately look ahead to week five as they will take on the Bears in just a few days. Not a lot of time to rest or recover and for a team that just took on this many injuries, things could look ugly Thursday night.
Six Numbers To Consider
83 - Different players that have caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in his career
222 - Career wins for Tom Brady, breaking an NFL record held by Adam Vinatieri
5 - Consecutive games with a touchdown for Mike Evans. Also, touchdowns by Evans in four games this season
11 - Touchdown passes by Brady through four games, tied for most in franchise history (Ryan Fitzpatrick, 2018)
5 - Fumble recoveries by Devin White, most in the NFL by a player since the 2019 season
1 - Stanley Cup in Raymond James on Sunday
Six Best Tweets
Things you love to see: Exactly what we just saw between Tom Brady and Scotty Miller.— Bailey Adams (@BaileyJAdams22) October 4, 2020
Nikita Kucherov is smiling. While wearing a Rob Gronkowski Bucs Jersey. And holding the Stanley Cup. pic.twitter.com/t7hiapM9zZ— Grace Remington (@GraceRemiWTSP) October 4, 2020
**Side note before we move on - After seeing the way Kucherov celebrated this past week, anyone else desperately want to see photos/videos of him partying with Gronk?**
• First-half pick-six— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 4, 2020
• No Chris Godwin
• No Leonard Fournette
• Losing O.J. Howard
• Losing LeSean McCoy
• Mike Evans fighting ankle injury
• Scotty Miller hip/groin injuries
Brady and Bruce still got the W (h/t @JennaLaineESPN) pic.twitter.com/msAiNl37Fa
also @ anyone still holding onto the Brady-can't-throw-deep narrative.— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) October 4, 2020
He can. End of story.
Six Items That Are Must Haves For Thursday Night
1.) Hot Dogs...with ketchup. Chicago wants to talk about how great their hot dogs are with their special buns and cursing anyone who dares to put ketchup on them? Smother those suckers in Heinz and chow down!
2.) Thin crust pizza. Also take pictures of yourself eating it and tag Bears fans on Twitter. They’ll flip their lid.
3.) Buttered popcorn. They want to mix caramel and cheese popcorn? Nah...we’re scarfing down classic buttered.
4.) Little Debbie snacks. Zebra cakes, Swiss cake rolls - doesn’t matter. Chicago invented the Twinkie? Little Debbie > Hostess
5.) Cheesesteaks - Hands down the better option over Chicago style Italian beef. Like, not even close.
6.) Anything but an Old Fashioned. If you’re old enough to partake in such beverages, avoid an Old Fashioned like the plague. It was recently revealed as Chicago’s most ordered cocktail. In fact, have margaritas. They were named the top drink choice of Tampa - as well as Los Angeles, Miami, Boston, and New York - and it didn’t even crack Chicago’s top five.
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Kansas City Chiefs - No reason to believe otherwise
2.) Baltimore Ravens - Bounce back week after losing to KC in week three
3.) Green Bay Packers - About to go 4-0 after Monday night
4.) Pittsburgh Steelers - A healthy Ben plus that defense is scary
5.) Seattle Seahawks - If they can get that defense straightened out, ooooh buddy...
6.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Statement win after falling behind by 17