Overall, the score was probably a bit closer than many think the play on the field would justify. While it’s just one loss, it’s not the kind of loss those watching the Bucs are used to seeing anymore, and it’s reinvigorated some old emotions.
There’s good and bad to every game though, so just like every other week, we’re here to identify the three worst and three best things we saw on Sunday in Los Angeles.
THIRD WORST - PENALTY DISPARITY
Call it Brady hatred, love for the hometeam Rams, or just plain unfair. Whatever you call it, the Buccaneers played a much more undisciplined version of football than the Los Angeles Rams, and it cost them.
In the penalty race, Tampa Bay outshot the Rams by a margin of seven to one. In yards, the Bucs gave up 41 yards in all, while Los Angeles sacrificed just four.
Add to the mix some of those penalties came at crucial times in the game, and it may not be the worst thing we saw on Sunday, but it wasn’t good.
THIRD BEST - THE TYLER JOHNSON GAME
Tyler Johnson certainly hopes this isn’t going to be the best game he has this season, and because of recent news (more on that in a bit), he seems likely to get more opportunities after his performance this past Sunday.
With Antonio Brown out for this game on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Johnson and Scotty Miller both got more opportunities to contribute to the offense.
While Miller is essentially a straight line runner with big play ability, Johnson is the more versatile of the two. This resulted in Johnson receiving six targets, catching three, and bringing his team 63-yards in all.
Johnson also had the second-longest play of the game for the Bucs. A 31-yard gain which missed tying Giovanni Bernard’s team-long play of 32.
SECOND WORST - LOSING PRESSURE
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is off to a much slower start in the sack department in 2021. They’re also much higher in the quarterback hits category than they were in 2020.
Part of this is on the defense not getting home fast enough, and some is thanks to creative offensive coordinators who are scheming to get the ball out quickly.
However, on Sunday, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford certainly looked comfortable completing all but eleven passes despite missing on five of his first six.
Lack of pressure is the reason, and it can’t all be put on the offense getting the ball out as Stafford took his time on several throws Sunday afternoon.
In all, the Bucs defense sacked Stafford once (William Gholston), and hit him just four other times.
The sack was Gholston’s first of the year, and just the third in the season for the Buccaneers defense.
SECOND BEST - MORE ATTENTION EQUALS MORE PRODUCTION
With Antonio Brown out the Bucs offense wasn’t devoid of talent by any means, but the Rams defense was able to focus in on wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin more than they could have otherwise.
The expectation would be a drop in production potentially, but the result was the opposite.
Instead, Evans had his first 100-yard receiving day of the year, and has increased his output from less than 25 yards to four times that amount, in just two weeks.
Godwin had his second-highest yardage production in this weekend’s game, and his third-straight with 60-yards or more to start the season.
Going back to the 2020 regular season, Godwin now has five straight games where he’s contributed 60-yards or more for the Buccaneers offense. And he also got his first career rushing touchdown.
THE WORST - INJURIES
Already missing Sean Murphy-Bunting to injury, Tampa Bay also had to come into this game without A.B. and linebacker Kevin Minter who were both out because of COVID-19 protocols.
Then, in game, the Bucs defense lost cornerback Jamel Dean.
On the offensive side of the ball, tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered an injury during the game, which he came back from but was clearly not 100%.
After the game, on Monday, we learned the team was going to be without Scotty Miller for an extended period of time, as the speed receiver suffered a toe injury.
THE BEST - ONLY COUNTS AS ONE
This really is the best thing we can say about the weekend. Tom Brady hit a career milestone, so we could grab that low-hanging fruit if we wanted, but I’m not going to.
No, instead, this is going to go down as a bad performance overall, and hopefully as a catalyst to light the fire needed to spark another run at Lombardi.
Good news for the Bucs, and bad for the Pats, there is plenty of motivation for everyone to do better, not just Tom Brady.
There also may be help on the way. And if so, could make the secondary even better than expected in the preseason, once they get healthy.