It’s time for PewterReport.com’s 2-Point Conversion post-game column, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game. Tampa Bay traveled to Las Vegas to beat Jon Gruden and the Raiders in a pirate clash, 45-20. Bucs quarterback Tom Brady led the team’s high-powered offense with five total touchdowns, while linebacker Devin White had a career-high three sacks and 11 tackles in a win that propels the Bucs to 5-2.

2 BIG STATEMENTS

STATEMENT 1. These Brady-led Bucs Look Super

Tampa Bay looks super this year, racing out to a 5-2 record after an impressive 45-20 victory over former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders.

And it’s not just the fact that the Bucs look super in the original red and pewter uniforms that they wore while winning four division titles (1999, 2002, ’05, ’07) and a Super Bowl (2002).

It’s the fact that the Tom Brady-led Bucs actually look super – as in a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

A week after destroying the Green Bay Packers – perhaps the top team in the NFC not named the Seattle Seahawks – 38-10, Tampa Bay won its next game in convincing fashion, too. The Bucs have never won back-to-back games by 25 points or more until these last two weeks, and Sunday’s win in Las Vegas came against a Raiders team that has beaten the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Bucs will get a rematch with the three-time division-winning Saints in Tampa Bay in two weeks, and will face the Chiefs at home at the end of November. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs are favored in each game. They’re that good.

Bucs QB Tom Brady
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

“I want to congratulate Tampa Bay – that was an impressive football team,” said Gruden after the game. He’s right. Tampa Bay is an impressive football team, and perhaps the best team in the NFC outside of Seattle thanks to the play of Brady, who had another masterful performance in a game that was supposed to be played on Sunday night if not for some positive COVID tests in Las Vegas.

With 18 touchdown passes, two touchdown runs and just four interceptions, Brady is playing at an MVP level right now. Only Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has accounted for more scores this year with 22 touchdown passes.

For the second straight game Brady wasn’t sacked, and for the third straight game he hasn’t thrown an interception. Brady completed a season-high 73.3 percent of his passes for 369 yards with four touchdowns and a rushing TD on a QB sneak at the 1-yard line to get Tampa Bay on the scoreboard.

“We did not get enough pass rush today and if you let Tom Brady stand back there and survey the field, he’s proven for 20 years – and he’s proved it for 21 years – that he is still one of the very, very best,” Gruden said after the game. “They have an arsenal of weapons. It’s a credit to them.”

Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Chris Godwin
Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: USA Today

Brady has only been sacked eight times this year, which are the third-fewest sacks allowed this season through seven games. Wide receiver Scotty Miller took advantage of Mike Evans being double-teamed virtually the entire game to have a career outing with 109 yards and a touchdown on six catches, while Chris Godwin had nine receptions for 88 yards and a score. Evans was held to two catches for 37 yards, but drew two defensive pass interference calls. In all, Brady hit nine different Buccaneers with passes.

It was a landmark win for Brady in that he moved past Saints quarterback Drew Brees into first place for the most touchdown passes in a career with 559. Brees, who passed for two scores in a 27-24 win against Carolina, is now in second place with 558.

After the game, Bruce Arians said that Brady’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Miller with 17 seconds left before halftime was the game-changer, as it put Tampa Bay up 21-10.

“I thought the drive at the end of the half was big in the ballgame,” Arians said. “I thought it flipped the whole game around to get a touchdown before the half and finish it. We knew the way they were going to play Mike, that Scotty was going to have a game and have opportunities. We just have to get him back in shape so he can do more of those things. We had it one more time and almost ran out of gas, but I thought Tom did a great job of finding him every time we had a shot.”

Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Scotty Miller
Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Scotty Miller – Photo by: USA Today

The Raiders tightened the game with a field goal to make it 27-24 early in the fourth quarter, but the Bucs offense erupted with two more Brady touchdowns and a 1-yard run from Ronald Jones II in a 21-point quarter to put the game away.

With 4-2 Arizona dropping previously unbeaten Seattle to 5-1 with a 37-34 overtime win on Sunday night, the Bucs are not only a game ahead of the Saints in the NFC South, but thanks to Brady’s stellar play, Tampa Bay is just one game back behind Seattle and 5-1 Chicago in the entire NFC playoff picture.

STATEMENT 2. Gronk Celebrates National Tight Ends Day

After starting his first year in Tampa Bay with just nine catches for 88 yards in the team’s first four games, future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski is really heating up as he caught five passes for 62 yards and another touchdown in the Bucs’ 45-20 win at Las Vegas. In his last three games, including Sunday’s victory over the Raiders, Gronkowski has caught 13 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns.

Gronkowski caught his second scoring pass, a 5-yard TD, in as many weeks from Tom Brady to give the Bucs their first lead, 14-10 in the second quarter, that they would never surrender throughout the rest of the game. His second Gronk Spike in red and pewter was in order as he celebrated National Tight Ends Day in style.

That score marked the 80th-career touchdown between Brady and Gronkowski, surpassing Dan Marino and Mark Clayton (79) for the fourth-most in NFL history. Including the postseason, Brady and Gronkowski have now connected for 92 TDs, tying San Francisco’s Steve Young and Jerry Rice for the second-most in league history and trailing only Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (114).

Bucs QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski and RB Ronald Jones II
Bucs QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski and RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: USA Today

Gronkowski now has 22 catches for 282 yards and two touchdowns as a Buccaneer, which is just three receptions behind wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (25) for the team lead. Gronkowski is tied for second on the Bucs in TD catches behind Evans’ six, and is third on the team in receiving yardage behind wide receiver Scotty Miller (365) and Evans (318)

2 PROBING QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: Did The Bucs Even Need To Sign Brown?

Yes, the Bucs do need Antonio Brown. While I don’t necessarily endorse signing a questionable character guy like Brown, I understand why the team did it. Bucs general manager Jason Licht, head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Tom Brady all saw the offense struggle and bog down in the red zone in a 20-19 loss at Chicago on Thursday night a few weeks ago. The Bucs played without Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans and Scotty Miller were hurt and hobbled the entire game.

“It’s an insurance policy,” Arians said. “When we don’t have Mike and we don’t have Chris why not have another Pro Bowl-caliber player that’s available and fits our cap and fits everything else? So why not? We have good players but you can’t have enough of them. In Chicago we had one of our top guys out there on one leg (Evans), why not have another one of them?”

Bucs WR Antonio Brown
Bucs WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The addition of Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowler gives Brady another elite weapon to throw to, and is really a low-cost, eight-game rental for the Bucs this season, as he’s not eligible to practice until after the Giants game due to an eight-game suspension he’s serving for misconduct over sexual assault allegations. After an illustrious nine-game career in Pittsburgh, Brown only played in one game in 2019 with Brady in New England after being released by Oakland during training camp.

Arians said that if Brown acts up or if the legal system finds him guilty of the sexual assault charges he will be released immediately.

“I think he’s matured and I believe in second chances,” Arians said of Brown. “Everyone wants to say that Tom picked him, Tom didn’t have anything to do with it. This is something that Jason and I have talked about for weeks, ever since the injuries to our other guys. And when the time was right, would we see if we could pull the trigger and fit it into what we want to get done and we’ll see. If Antonio does what I think what he’s going to do, he’s going to be fine.

“I think let the court system do its’ job. As far as the allegations, I’ve been around a lot of players who have allegations that weren’t true. Some were. So, let the court system handle it and if it’s found out to be true, he won’t be with us.”

QUESTION 2: What Was Up With The Bucs Defense?

It was a puzzling performance for Todd Bowles’ group in Sunday’s 45-20 win over the Raiders, as the Bucs defense played well enough, but not as great as it did in last week’s 38-10 drubbing of the Packers. Las Vegas was without three starting offensive linemen by the end of the game, but Tampa Bay couldn’t really capitalize on that and registered just five quarterback hits and three sacks – all by inside linebacker Devin White, who had a career day rushing the passer (although two of his sacks did come on plays where he was in coverage and rallied to the ball).

Bucs ILB Devin White and Raiders QB Derek Carr
Bucs ILB Devin White and Raiders QB Derek Carr – Photo by: USA Today

Leading sacker Jason Pierre-Paul didn’t show up on the stats sheet, and Ndamukong Suh had a sack stripped from him due to a defensive holding penalty on nickel cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, who had a poor outing in coverage. Tampa Bay’s run defense was still dominant, led by White’s 11 tackles and five stops from new defensive tackle Steve McLendon, who was making his Bucs debut on Sunday. The Raiders were held to just 76 yards rushing, which marked the 13th straight game in which the Tampa Bay defense has held its opponent under 100 yards rushing, tying the third-longest streak in the NFL since the merger (Minnesota Vikings, 13 games, 9/24/06-12/21/06).

The Bucs are still second in the league with 25 sacks, just one sack behind Pittsburgh (26) for the league lead, and Tampa Bay came up with another takeaway on defense, as safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. recorded his first career interception. As a team, Bucs are tied with the Titans for second in the league with nine interceptions this year – one behind Indianapolis (10).

While Bowles’ unit held the Raiders under 300 yards passing and less than 100 yards rushing while helping the Bucs win the turnover margin 1-0, Tampa Bay played quite a bit of zone coverage and struggled at times to cover Raiders receiver Nelson Agholor (five catches, 107 yards, TD) and tight end Darren Waller (six catches, 50 yards, TD). Still, the Bucs held the Raiders to just 20 points, which was 10 points below their season average.

2 BOLD PREDICTIONS

PREDICTION 1: Bucs Finish First Half Of The Season 6-2

Tampa Bay travels to New York to face the hapless Giants on Monday Night Football next week. The Bucs will get an extra day of practice in, as a result, and the outcome won’t be good for the 1-6 Giants, who lost a heart-breaker to Philadelphia, 22-21, on Thursday Night Football. New York’s only win this year came against an awful 1-5 Washington team, a 20-19 victory, two weeks ago.

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett
Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Giants are without star running back Saquon Barkley and have really struggled to put up points this year, averaging just 17.4 points per game. Tampa Bay can’t wait to exact some revenge on QB Daniel Jones and New York after blowing an 18-point halftime lead last year in a 32-31 loss, and will roll to its third straight convincing win in a row on Monday Night Football that will propel the Buccaneers to 6-2 at the midway point.

PREDICTION 2: The Patriots Don’t Make The Playoffs

Who was going to miss whom the most – Bill Belichick or Tom Brady? That was one of the big questions in the NFL heading into 2020 as the football marriage between Belichick and Brady ended after 20 seasons in New England this offseason, with Brady’s move to Tampa Bay in free agency. The answer after seven weeks is simple – Belichick misses Brady more.

And it’s not even close.

Patriots QB Tom Brady and Bill Belichick
Patriots QB Tom Brady and Bill Belichick – Photo by: Getty Images

Brady and the Buccaneers moved to 5-2 after a convincing 45-20 victory in Las Vegas and seem poised for a playoff run, while the Patriots fell to 2-4 after being drubbed by San Francisco, 33-6, in New England. Cam Newton, who replaced Brady as the Patriots QB this season, threw three interceptions against the 49ers and was benched in favor of backup Jarrett Stidham in the second half. Newton now has seven interceptions on the season, while Brady only had eight in New England during the entire 2019 campaign.

This year as a Buccaneer, Brady has only thrown four interceptions, and none since his pick-six against the Chargers in Week 4. Brady was the NFC Offensive Player of the Week while throwing five touchdowns to help offset that INT against L.A. The Patriots are three games behind Buffalo (5-2) for the lead in the AFC East, and still have to play the Bills twice, including next week’s game, in addition to upcoming games against Baltimore (5-1), Arizona (5-2) and the Los Angeles Rams (4-2).

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
Subscribe
Notify of
32 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
cgmaster27

This team is clicking on all cylinders. All three phases are playing complimentary football. I cant stress enough how refreshinfbit is to have a kicker who just makes his kicks. Tom is playing out of his mind. This is the best group of pass catchers hes ever had and hes hertinf everyone involved. Lets give mr Licht some credit as well, hes killed this last 2 drafts andbgetring wirfs was a steal. Then again so was Winfield. Free agents, rookies, licht has been on fire. And our young secondary, outside of SMB has been lights out. Just need to stay… Read more »

Buc stops here

Great point and not stated enough. Jason Licht has take a lot of grief these last few years but he with all the moves in free agency, the non drafted players, and even the draft as of late has been doing better. He has in all honesty grown into the job as the first few years were very rough. However today no one can say enough of what he has done. He has given this team enough talent to become a serious contender for the first time in over a decade. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet.… Read more »

Naplesfan

While any player or unit can have an off day – Wilson got intercepted three times yesterday, only the second time in his 9 year career – it is complementary football that wins the most games across a season, and we are definitely playing complementary football. So our defense allowed 20 but got the stops when needed in the fourth quarter, including a turnover deep in Raiders territory that was converted into a touchdown by Brady and company. Special teams even played well, even though nobody noticed. Our punter didn’t get much of a workout, but our kick returner did… Read more »

Pete Wood

Really going out on a limb with your prediction that Bucs beat the Giants next week, Scott. 🙂 (my little smiley face is gone!)
Here’s my two bold predictions.

  1. Bucs make it to the Superbowl.
  2. Bucs do not lose another regular season game this year. They are favored in every remaining game except for KC where they are one point underdogs.

It’s good to be a Bucs fan.
Go Bucs!

+12
0
Rating: +12. From 12 votes.
Please wait...
Last edited 29 days ago by Pete Wood
compewterpirate

I like your bold predictions … that’s the spirit! Rather bolder than Scott’s ‘bold’ predictions! . lol

+2
0
Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
Please wait...
fredster

Bucs being 6-2 and Pats missing playoffs is not a bold statement. Lol. Giants suck and Pats do too. Hope Carlton Davis is ok? Bunting has been one weak spot on this team. He sucked sunday. They still need less penalties on d overall. Almost let raiders back in or.

+7
-1
Rating: +6. From 8 votes.
Please wait...
76Buc

As David Goggins says,”embrace the suck”. SMB will be ok, but our 2 CB starters should both be Auburn Tigers.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
drdneast

Sure is great to have a Victory Monday more often than not.
Days seem nicer, food tastes better, sleep comes easier and is better.
Silly isn’t it, but it is what it is after over 45 years of Buc football.
With that in mind, let me tell you something. I have never seen our team dominate two teams like this back to back. Not even in 2002.
And I have never seen a QB in a Bucs uniform play like this before.
Never.

+22
-1
Rating: +21. From 23 votes.
Please wait...
eaustinyoung

Potential to be the best Bucs team ever. Could even be a top team all-time. Gotta stay healthy and focused.

+6
-1
Rating: +5. From 7 votes.
Please wait...
ScottC543

I heard one of the NFL talking heads say that very thing – this could be the best team ever.

+2
0
Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
Please wait...
Buc stops here

Another good point but the Bucs have had good QBs in the past they just did not know it. Steve Young was excellent as the 49ers proved. Doug Williams was very good as the Washington Redskins proved. But you are accurate in saying “And I have never seen a QB in a Bucs uniform play like this before,” because they were no longer Buccaneers when they won the Super Bowl for other teams (but back in the day Doug Williams was a very QB that Tampa had).

+4
-1
Rating: +3. From 5 votes.
Please wait...
drdneast

Doug Williams was not a good QB while he was here. He certainly proved a spark to the team but if you look at his stats they are mediocre at best. He did improve as time went on, especially under Joe Gibbs and the ‘Hogs that gave him protection and time to throw the ball. His win in the SB was the direct result of the ‘Hogs play who also paved the way for a little known RB named Timmy Smith to set a rushing record in the game. Steve Young was very raw and unpolished when he was here.… Read more »

Buc stops here

They do look very impressive. I worry a little about the offensive line but as of late, they have done a superb job of protecting Brady from pressure – which is his Achilles heal as everyone knows. Without pressure he is still a top QB and that has shown up the last two weeks. Against Chicago the penalties hurt, the pressure even more as the team could only score 19 points in that situation. Preventing pressure is the key to the Super Bowl hopes. If they can keep the pressure off of Brady, and keep the pressure on the opposing… Read more »

Naplesfan

You are blaming the wrong guy for the Bears loss. TB-12 didn’t commit any offensive penalties in that game, or any defensive penalties either. The penalties were what lost the game, not the play of Tom Brady. Really, everybody but you seems to know that. Tom Brady plays just fine under pressure. His PR under pressure was great – top 15 to 1st in the league – every year from 2015 through 2018, per PFF data. His only drop to bottom half of the league when under pressure was in 2019, when the entire NFL football world acknowledged that Tom… Read more »

Buc stops here

Yes, he did not have a lot of support with the Patriots – Cam Newton is reinforcing that this year. However, his QBR vs. Chicago was among the worst this year 61.9 – 19th ranked. The following week against GB it was 96.5, #1 in the NFL. This week it was 88.1, #4 in the NFL. I admit he has been improving every week as in week 1 he was #28 ranked and it has gone up ever since with a slight decline week 6 in Chicago. The last two weeks though he has really caught on fire – but… Read more »

drdneast

Great reply. If there was any doubt as to the lack of quality in the Pats WR room they have to look no further than the current season. Belichek, blind to the obvious and stubborn in his beliefs, didn’t do a thing to improve the room.
Now Cam Newton is faced with the same dilemma with far less positive results than Brady.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
RW

With the Pats, TB12 used to deal with pressure by dumping passes off to the backs. James White in particular. Against Chicago both Fournette and McCoy did not play and that really affected the outcome. RoJo is just not that good at “understanding ” his role in the passing game and catching the ball in particular. You saw yesterday how valuable Fournette is; he caught some key balls including getting the 1st down on 3rd and 13 when the Bucks were up 24-20. As long as Fournette is in the lineup the Bucs will be fine facing pressure. Rate this… Read more »

PatrioticChief

I am the biggest Brady stan on this website. Ya’ll kept hating and I told you be patient because once he gets going you will see what Pats fans have seen for years. But you’d have to be a homer to not be a little concerned by Brady’s performance under pressure the last two years. Brady went from being intractable under pressure and almost invulnerable against the blitz pre-2018 to having one of the worst adjusted completion percentages under pressure and struggling against the blitz over the last year and a half. It doesn’t mean he’s not a great quarterback.… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by PatrioticChief
Naplesfan

Last year does not matter at all. Completely different team and coaches. All quarterbacks suffer when under pressure, and their QBR drops accordingly. The point is that even when under pressure Brady plays better than most, this season. You do realize that a QBR of 61.9 when under pressure is still extremely good. QBR is a measure of actual performance vs. perfection, and a QBR of 50 is considered average performance – it is a normalized stat. A QBR performance of 61.9 when under pressure is far better than the average NFL quarterback performs all the time. Rate this item:Thumb… Read more »

PatrioticChief

I don’t understand why people feel the need to be like this. It’s either Brady sucks or he has to be some infallible God. Brady is playing at an elite level by most metrics except when it comes to pressure and against the blitz. This isn’t a debate. It’s a statement of fact. Brady used to be one of the best QB’s in the NFL when measured by performance under pressure and against the blitz relative to other QB’s and for the last two and a half years he’s been below average when compared to other QB’s. That is a… Read more »

Buc stops here

Scott Reynolds – you have an error in the article above. “After an illustrious nine-game career in Pittsburgh, Brown only played in one game in 2019 with Brady in New England after being released by Oakland during training camp.

I think you meant to say a nine season career in Pittsburgh, not 9 games – that would be a 10 game career which is nothing to write home about.

+4
0
Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
Please wait...
bucballer

And THEY ( mostly disgruntled NE fans) say Brady can’t throw anymore. He dropped an absolute dime in Miller’s hand! What a thing of beauty. Seems teams live and die with QB play as the Bucs well know. It’s nice to see such stellar QB play for our Buccaneers! Brady is getting acclimated and it’s starting to show. I don’t think he has EVER had the weapons that he does here in Tampa. It’s going to be fun watching how this team continues to develop this season. Enjoy Buc fans! If only for a brief time. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by bucballer
ScottC543

Brady wasn’t throwing to Miller’s hands, or any other part of his body, on that play. He was throwing it to the back corner of the endzone. It was Miller’s job to be there when the ball arrived.

Executed perfectly by both players.

+4
-1
Rating: +3. From 5 votes.
Please wait...
Last edited 29 days ago by ScottC543
Naplesfan

You are making a distinction without a difference.

If the ball were thrown to the back corner of the end zone but 10 feet off the ground, Miller couldn’t have caught it.

If the ball were thrown to the back corner of the end zone but in the dirt, Miller couldn’t have caught it.

Brady threw the ball to the back corner in the end zone at precisely the perfect height above ground to match where Millers hands could only be.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
bucballer

Was thinking about Pewter Report in the waning moments of the Raiders game. Who would I pick for the least impressive pick? For the first time in a very long time I actually had to really think about it as one player didn’t stick out in my mind. It’s been forever since that has happened. And then upon further reflection, SMB came to mind. He seemed a bit lost out there yesterday. Great win. This team is starting to play up to its potential. It’s a beautiful thing. Go Bucs! Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please… Read more »

Madman

Bucs LBs are far better in the blitz than coverage. I know you can’t bring them every time but I would’ve liked to see more pressure in that game.

+2
0
Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
Please wait...
ScottC543

That play where White blasted Carr at the sideline showed just how crazy fast White is.. He came from back in coverage like a freaking missile.

+5
0
Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
Please wait...
RW

The key to beating the Saints will be how the Bucs linebackers cover Kamara out of the backfield. They control him they can easily win the game.

+1
0
Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
Please wait...
Horse

Feels great to have a winning team you believe in. It’s been a long time in the making.s; I’m enjoying the feeling!

+2
0
Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
Please wait...
RW

Tom Brady is still good at football.

+3
0
Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
Please wait...
tpeluso

Gonna pump the brakes ever so slightly. It’s obvious that Brady is still in form, but the Packers and Raiders are statistically two of the league’s worst defenses (30th and 31st, respectively, according to last week’s DVOA rankings). In short, the offense did exactly what it SHOULD have done the last two weeks, and the 31 the offense hung on the Chargers (12th in defensive DVOA) without the benefit of a short field was actually a better performance. If Brady can pull out a performance like this with Brown in the fold in two weeks against the Saints (8th in… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by tpeluso
drdneast

Good point but the Bucs didn’t do to bad against the Bears with almost their entire WR corps pulled up lame.
I can tell you as a long time Bucs fan that a teams poor defensive ranking didn’t have a thing to do with how many points the Bucs scored.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...