Quarterback Tom Brady led the Bucs back from a 29-28 deficit to help Tampa Bay stun Dallas, 31-29, thanks to a 36-yard game-winning field goal from Ryan Succop. Brady and the offense racked up 431 yards and 31 points, but struggled with four turnovers. Several Bucs offensive players shined on Thursday Night Football, while Tampa Bay’s defense got shredded by Dak Prescott, who threw for 403 yards and three touchdowns.
Here are this week’s most impressive Buccaneers as Tampa Bay opened the season with a comeback win against Dallas.
QB Tom Brady
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Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Antonio Brown – Photo by: USA Today
Brady started the game 6-of-8 for 86 yards and a touchdown. All of that yardage came on the second drive of the game, which was capped off by a 5-yard TD pass from Brady to wide receiver Chris Godwin. Brady found Godwin twice for gains of 19 and 17 yards and then hit tight end Rob Gronkowski for a 2-yard TD as the Bucs retook the lead, 14-7 in the second quarter. Brady would connect with Antonio Brown for a 47-yard touchdown in the second quarter, but had two interceptions. The first of which wasn’t his fault as it bounced off Leonard Fournette’s hands. The second came on a Hail Mary attempt. Brady found Gronkowski for an 11-yard score in the third quarter – his fourth of the night. Brady saved his best for last, leading Tampa Bay on an 11-play, 57-yard game-winning drive, which was capped off with Ryan Succop’s 36-yard field goal with two seconds left.
TE Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski had a pair of touchdowns on Thursday night. His first one was a 2-yard touchdown to help the Bucs build a 14-7 lead in the first half. Gronkowski’s second score came on an 11-yard TD against DeMarcus Lawrence to give Tampa Bay a 28-19 lead in the third. Gronkowski had a 20-yard grab on that scoring drive. He finished with eight catches for 90 yards, including a key 20-yard catch-and-run on Tampa Bay’s final scoring drive.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski connect for a second touchdown in the game and the 86th touchdown connection of their NFL careers, surpassing Steve Young and Jerry Rice (85) for the third-most regular season touchdown connections in NFL history.
On a night when Dallas kicker Greg Zuerlein missed two costly field goals and an extra point, Succop was perfect for Tampa Bay. Succop nailed all four of his extra points and hammered his lone field goal attempt – a 36-yarder – to win the game with two seconds left.
WR Chris Godwin
Godwin’s first two catches of the night were clutch, picking up a first down with an 8-yard gain down to the 5-yard line. Then on the next play, Godwin went in motion and put a great outside-in move on Cowboys nickel cornerback Jourdan Lewis, who got caught flat-footed in coverage, for a 5-yard touchdown across the middle. In the second quarter, Godwin had back-to-back catches of 19 and 17 yards to move the Bucs into the Cowboys’ red zone. It wasn’t a perfect night as Godwin fumbled at the Dallas 2-yard line with less than five minutes left. That turnover led to a Cowboys field goal, but Godwin came back with a clutch 24-yard reception that helped set up Succop’s game-winner.
WR Antonio Brown
Brown started off the game hot with back-to-back catches for 28 yards and 16 yards against cornerback Anthony Brown on the second drive. In the second quarter, Brown smoked Brown and had a 47-yard touchdown. He had four catches for 118 yards and a score by halftime. He added one more catch for three yards in the second quarter.
OLB Shaquil Barrett
Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett and Cowboys QB Dak Prescott – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs struggled to get to Dak Prescott, especially in the first half. But Barrett flipped from the left side to the right side and dropped Prescott for a 12-yard sack against left tackle Tyron Smith. That sack helped move the Cowboys out of field goal range right before halftime.
P Bradley Pinion
Pinion’s first punt of the year was better than any of his punts a year ago. He drilled a 65-yarder in the first quarter down to the Cowboys’ 2-yard line. Pinion’s next punt traveled 42 yards down to the Dallas 8-yard line. A block in the back penalty set the Cowboys up at the 5-yard line where they went three-and-out on that series. Pinion’s next punt came in the fourth quarter, a 41-yarder down to the Dallas 6. He averaged 49.3 yards per punt with a 45.8-yard net. All six of Pinion’s kickoffs were touchbacks. It was a truly outstanding night for Pinion.
CB Carlton Davis III
On a night when Sean Murphy-Bunting was out early due to what could be a serious arm injury, and Jamel Dean struggled in coverage and with penalties, Davis was clearly Tampa Bay’s best defensive back. Davis was solid in coverage and came up with a clutch interception off a deflected pass that set up a touchdown in the third quarter. He finished the game with three pass breakups, two tackles and that key interception, which was the lone Bucs takeaway.
ILB Lavonte David
David had four tackles at halftime, but came on in the second half with seven more. He finished the game with a team-high 11 stops and a pass deflection.
ILB Devin White
White didn’t make any splash plays in the first half, but was a steady tackler with eight stops through two quarters. He finished with two tackles in the second half and 10 in the game.
NT Vita Vea
Vea didn’t record a single tackle, but he did finish the game with six QB pressures, collapsing the pocket in the second half – especially in the fourth quarter. Vea also lined up at fullback in the second half and paved the way for Leonard Fournette to pick up a first down on third-and-one with a key lead block.
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: email@example.com
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