Welcome to a NEW post-game column, where I’ll take a look at the moment(s) the game turned either in favor or against the Buccaneers. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive look at all the reasons the Bucs won or lost, but instead the key moment or two where things went north or south for the team.

The Game-Changer

I know, I know. You want me to pick a singular moment where the Bucs went from competing with the Raiders to beating them over the head, but I just can’t do it. Not today.

How do you pick one moment from this peak Tom Brady performance as the one that made the greatest impact on the game’s outcome, when the Bucs’ quarterback was forced to make a handful of them throughout the contest due to his defense struggling?

Would you choose Brady’s perfectly placed back shoulder fade for Rob Gronkowski that put the Bucs up for the first time in the game? Or how about the quarterback’s 33-yard seed to Scotty Miller with 25 seconds left in the half to give Tampa Bay a 21-10 halftime lead they would not relinquish? Yes, maybe that’s the one.

But the Raiders roared back with a strong third quarter, cutting the Bucs lead to 24-20 with 12:43 left in the game. With the Bucs offense in desperate need of an answer to 10-straight points by the Raiders, Brady took over again.

First was a 3rd-and-13 checkdown to Leonard Fournette, which may not have seemed like much, but how many times have Bucs fans seen Jameis Winston pass up the smart underneath throw to air out into a Cover 2 defense with linebackers playing 15-20 yards deep? Brady immediately recognized how much space the Raiders had afforded Fournette, and quickly got him the ball for the first down.

On that pivotal touchdown drive alone, Brady had a 15-yard post throw to Evans and an outstanding toss on the move to Chris Godwin in the end zone when the defense lost the Pro Bowl receiver late in the play. On the drive that mattered the most, Brady was 5-7 for 50 yards and was robbed of another big play when Raiders CB Trayvon Mullen grabbed Mike Evans on a double move to prevent a chunk gain. The defensive pass interference kept the Bucs drive alive on 3rd-and-2.

After an Antoine Winfield interception gave the Bucs offense a short field to seal the game, Brady went to work. He laced a 23-yard pass down the seam to Godwin, who was pulled down just short of the goal line. Ronald Jones scored to put the nail in the Raiders’ coffin on the next play.

Then, just for good measure with the game already decided, Brady dropped in an absolutely perfect arcing throw for 22 yards to Mike Evans on an over route, setting up his fourth and final touchdown pass of the game to Tyler Johnson in the back of the end zone.

It was a peak Tom Brady performance, the likes of which Bucs fan have been waiting to see, but haven’t needed very often due to the Bucs defensive dominance. But with the Bucs defense reeling a bit against a good Raiders offense, Brady was at his absolute best in a 33-45, 369-yard, four-touchdown performance that elevated the Bucs to 5-2.

So this turning point, this game-changer moment actually occurred in March, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Tom Brady to a two-year deal and put the fate of their franchise in his hands. That move was made for games like this, when the team ran out of defensive answers, couldn’t run the ball effectively and were on the brink of giving up a big lead by beating themselves, something the Bucs have done all too often over the past, well, 15 years.

But not on Sunday. Because of Brady. Pick your moment, but the GOAT’s presence in Tampa Bay, a move that began all the way back in March, is why the Bucs won today. And he’s why they’ll win a lot more between now and the end of the season.

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
Subscribe
Notify of
18 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pete Wood

Call me crazy, but I think the moment that changed the game was when the Raiders kicked a field goal on fourth and one. If they tie the game on that drive, it’s a very different situation. I dunno. I thought it was a really bad call by Gruden.
Maybe that call had no impact, but I kinda wonder.

+9
0
Rating: +9. From 9 votes.
Please wait...
BucWonder

You’re not crazy. I agree that decision mattered in the final score. It would have been 45-24.

Go Bucs!

+15
-2
Rating: +13. From 17 votes.
Please wait...
gcolerick

That’s just too funny!

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

Huge play

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Captain Sly

Classic Gruden! Bucs fans remember all to well those close games turned into field goal battles. For someone who was supposed to be an offensive guru his offenses could never scored touchdowns. So glad he’s the Raiders HC!

+11
-2
Rating: +9. From 13 votes.
Please wait...
revfish

Huge play

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Horse

Jon, well said.

+1
0
Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
Please wait...
ScottC543

How’s Jason Licht been doing his job lately?

+13
-1
Rating: +12. From 14 votes.
Please wait...
SDBucfan

He’s really put together a terrible roster here!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
peter benet

Eloquent and accurate, Jon.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
PatrioticChief

Bucs will live or die by their pass protection. Keep Brady clean and the Bucs offense will be unstoppable by the end of the season. If he gets beaten up, his performance under pressure hasn’t been impressive to date. Not a perfect game by any stretch but a superior game from the undisputed GOAT.

+4
-4
Rating: 0. From 8 votes.
Please wait...
drdneast

Brady must feel like a kid in a candy shop with all these WRs he has running all over the field, especially after the last couple of years he spent in New England.

+8
0
Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
Please wait...
revfish

Imagine how the Jet defensive lineman felt after today

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

I don’t necessarily think the Defense struggled today. I think it’s the fact that almost every team is either gonna have a better Offense or a better Defense of their own. The Raiders have a better Offense than they do a Defense, so in games like that, our Solid Defense just needs to do their job and hold them off as much as possible while our Solid Offense picks apart their Defense. In games that we play a great Defense, our Offense has to just do a solid job of getting what they can while our Defense eats the opponents… Read more »

Naplesfan

Agreed, the turning point was the signing of Tom Brady early this year. It’s been very very hard to be a Bucs fan since our last trip to the playoffs in 2007 … especially over the previous 5 seasons with the Great Divider in the lockerroom. It was just as depressing for the majority of Bucs fans since 2015 as it has been to be a member of the majority of Americans the last three years and 10 months. But nothing lasts forever, whether the good times or the bad. Relief arrived for Bucs fans 7 months ago, and relief… Read more »

revfish

I like the TD pass to Miller but I’d go back a couple plays Mark. With 50 seconds left in the half Tampa went for it on 4th and 3 o the Vegas 40 in a 14-10 game. If the don’t make it the Raiders have it close to FG range with pressure in the defense. I don’t think Tampa goes for it last year between Winston and a suspect d. We did AND we made it. Next thing you know, Tiuchdown! To me that was both the turning point and epitomizes the different aura of BUC land this year… Read more »

surferdudes

Jon, no need bringing up Winston’s name ever again. By now it should be obvious to the biggest JW fan, there’s no comparison between him, and TB12.

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

Don’t know if my first post went through so… I like the TD pass to Miller as a turning point but I’d go back a couple plays Mark. With 50 seconds left in the half Tampa went for it on 4th and 3 o the Vegas 40 in a 14-10 game. If the don’t make it the Raiders have it close to FG range with pressure in the defense. I don’t think Tampa goes for it last year between Winston and a suspect d. We did AND we made it. Next thing you know, Tiuchdown! To me that was both… Read more »