In quite possibly the most overhyped game in the last decade, the NFL world finally saw the return of Tom Brady to Foxborough to take on the Patriots. In what can only be described as an evening loaded with missed opportunities, the Buccaneers were able to escape with a 19-17 victory in the pouring rain - and they did so without a single touchdown from Tom Brady.
Let’s jump right in and Pick Six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) The defense was much better this week. I don’t understand how people on social media were screaming about how the defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed after the Bucs took a 16-14 lead, considering at that point they had only allowed two scoring drives the entire night. The defense had three sacks on the season coming into this game and added four more - two from rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka - against Mac Jones. On top of that, Antoine Winfield Jr. had an interception and a forced fumble - recovered by Richard Sherman - that the offense failed to capitalize on. We’ll get to injuries in a moment, but this defense did its job on numerous occasions. Oh, and they set a team record for fewest rushing yards allowed with -1. Yes, that’s negative one. Were they perfect? Absolutely not - but they gave the offense ample opportunities to run the score up and the offense flat out couldn’t finish.
2.) Injuries are mounting at an alarming rate. Carlton Davis - who was on punt coverage for who knows what reason - appeared to have injured his quad early in the game and was carted back to the locker room. Davis didn’t return and his status moving forward is in serious question. That left Sherman, with his whopping three days of practice with the team, to be the top guy out there with Ross Cockrell, Dee Delaney, and Pierre Desir. On top of that, Antoine Winfield Jr. left late in the game to be evaluated for a concussion. Now, I would assume Jamel Dean would be back this week against the Doplhins but that isn’t a guarantee. Rob Gronkowski is dealing with cracked and broken ribs and a punctured lung, Jason Pierre-Paul is still dealing with his shoulder injury. It’s a mess. One of the things that allowed the Bucs to win a championship last year was staying healthy. This year they’re anything but. Hopefully these guys make it back sooner than later.
3.) Speaking of Sherman. He had no business being on that field last night. He hadn’t played in a game since mid-December of last year, didn’t have a team to go to for OTAs or training camp. He was with the Bucs for three days. Talk about getting thrown head first into the deep end. Mac Jones went after Sherman and some success doing so - but that is not indicative of how Sherman is going to be the rest of the way. There’s no reason to worry about his performance Sunday night. Equate it to that of a preseason game. He’s getting used to the system, getting his legs under him, and preparing. That was still a huge signing for the Bucs and given the string of injuries, it’s one that will pay off big time for the defense.
4.) The offense left a lot to be desired. Tom Brady looked off. All night. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the emotions or the pressure he put on himself, but it was an ugly performance for the Bucs inside the red zone. You could clearly see how important Gronk is to them in those situations and not having him there hurt in a big way. For all the situations and games that Brady has been in over the years, there is absolutely nothing like what he experienced last night. And credit the Patriots’ defensive game plan. It worked well. They would give Brady familiar looks only to change after the snap to try and create some confusion - and it often worked. Brady was hurried, flustered, and off-target for a lot of the night. In the end, he did what Brady does and got them in position to win the game - but it’s not often we’re going to see games where Brady doesn’t end with at least one touchdown like he did in this one.
5.) Playoff Lenny in week four? Leonard Fournette finally got the run game off the ground, finishing with 91 yards. He looked decisive, quick, elusive, and confident the entire game. Somehow, it was Ronald Jones that got in the end zone, but Fournette helped this offense keep New England honest and helped this offense stay multidimensional. That is a facet of the game the Bucs desperately needed to get going and Fournette gave them the exact kind of boost they were looking for.
6.) “Get right” stretch upcoming. We all remember last season when the Bucs lost three of four then got to face the Atlanta Falcons twice, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Detroit Lions. That sparked their fantastic championship run as the offense and defense found their groove. Well, the upcoming schedule could do exactly that. In the coming weeks, the Bucs will face the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Washington Football Team, and New York Giants. It’s possible none of those teams would even be at .500 by time they face the Bucs. This is not only an opportunity for the Bucs to win games while getting healthy but for them to start to reignite the magic that they had last season. Nothing in the NFL is guaranteed, but the Buccaneers are looking at a very promising stretch over the next several weeks.
Six Numbers To Consider
-1 - Rushing yards allowed by the Bucs defense
80,560 - Passing yards by Tom Brady, most in NFL history
138 - Yards from scrimmage by Fournette, his most as a Buccaneer
59 - Takeaways by the Bucs defense since 2019, fourth most in the NFL over that span
29 - Games without allowing a 100 yard rusher since 2019, the most in the NFL over that span
29.5 - Sacks by Shaquil Barrett since joining the Bucs in 2019, second most of any player over that span
Six Best Tweets
THIS IS PAYBACK FOR NICK FOLK MISSING THREE KICKS AND COSTING US A GAME AGAINST THE PATRIOTS A FEW YEARS AGO— Bailey Adams (@BaileyJAdams22) October 4, 2021
Godwin withno targets in the first quarter pic.twitter.com/x0Sdkb4vlY— Bucs Nation (@Bucs_Nation) October 4, 2021
Henceforth, any Brady scramble will be called a rumble stumble. It is hereby decreed. https://t.co/lFbBV1gcDh— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) October 4, 2021
I hope Tom one day reaches the level of fame where someone holds an umbrella for him as well. pic.twitter.com/BTPugrjsYn— Whitney Holtzman (@WHoltzman) October 4, 2021
Six Surprise Guests That Could Show Up At The Halftime Show
With the announcement that the Super Bowl LVI halftime show would be Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige it got me thinking - who could be a surprise guest to jump on stage with them during the performance? Here are my six most likely candidates;
6.) 50 Cent - He’s been out for a while, but 50 did plenty of songs with Eminem and Dre - including some with both of them. It wouldn’t or shouldn’t surprise anyone if he were to show up
5.) Skylar Grey - Having sung the chorus of Dre and Eminem’s song “I Need A Doctor” and now featured on Eminem’s latest song “Last One Standing,” Grey has integrated herself with the hip-hop giants. She wouldn’t steal too much spotlight and would crush a brief performance.
4.) Pharrell - A legendary producer, Pharrell also lent his vocals on plenty of top hits over the years. As someone who collaborated with Snoop Dogg on the massive hit “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” Pharrell could pop up for a quick rendition of the chorus during Snoop’s performance.
3.) Steven Tyler - Okay, this one is a little out there, but if the show includes Eminem diving into a deep catalogue, one of his biggest hits to date is “Sing For A Moment” which uses a sample of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” while still utilizing Tyler’s vocals during the chorus. The place might go insane if Tyler emerged from backstage to offer Eminem some backing vocals.
2.) Hologram 2Pac - I know, I know. Now we’re delving into the ridiculous. However, this would not be the first time a holographic image of 2Pac was used during a Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg performance. It happened back in 2012 at Coachella to thunderous applause. And let’s not forget the song by 2Pac and Dre, “California Love” which would go wonderfully in the setting of SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. Inglewood, always up to no good, right? Personally, I’m really rooting for this one to come true. (You can check out that hologram 2Pac performance below. Contains NSFW language)
1.) Rhianna - Though this wouldn’t be the most surprising, it seems the most likely. Rhianna joined forces with Eminem for two of his biggest hits over the last decade - “The Monster” and “Love The Way You Lie.” Eminem has even done surprise appearances on Rhianna’s tours just to perform one or both of these songs for Rhianna’s fans. If you’re looking for a cameo, this is probably your best bet.
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Back on top following the Rams’ loss to Arizona. All due respect to the Cardinals, I don’t think their undefeated record is indicative of their ranking in the NFL.
2.) Kansas City Chiefs - Slow start to the season but it looks like they’re beginning to figure some things out
3.) Los Angeles Rams - Every team has an off day. Sunday was the Rams’. They’re still very dangerous
4.) Arizona Cardinals - I don’t think they’re the best team in the league, but I will show respect for what could be the surprise team of the 2021 season
5.) Los Angeles Chargers - I believe they’ll beat the Raiders and plant themselves firmly in the conversation of biggest threat to the Chiefs in the AFC
6.) Green Bay Packers - Are they all the way back?
Six Final Words
Brady Wins In Gillette Stadium...Again
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