The Bucs may not have landed in Charlotte until midnight early Sunday, but they sure played like they were well-rested, as they dominated the Carolina Panthers 46-23.
TB12 and the Bucs offense stole the show, racking up over 500 yards and giving punter Bradley Pinion the day off in that phase of the game, as the only possession where they didn’t score was the first one, which ended with a fumble by Ronald Jones.
Other than that fumble though, the team looked like the Bucs that we all expected since the season began. ROJO had a 98-yard run for a touchdown, the longest offensive play in Buccaneer history (and only the fourth 98-plus yard run in NFL history), and had a career game, running for 192 yards (what a turn around) on 23 carries. Brady spread the ball around to those superstar receivers, as Antonio Brown, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin all had over 60 yards receiving.
Brady looked more like himself, too, as he threw a trio of touchdowns and did one of those patented Brady-sneaks at the Panthers’ one-yard-line for a touchdown. While Gronk only had two catches, he made them count, as one went for 44 yards, the longest play through the air for the Bucs all game (the other was a TD).
Defensively the Bucs struggled mightily in the first half, giving up 17 points, but in the second half they were lights out. The only touchdown they gave up was a result of a huge kickoff return in the fourth quarter that gave Carolina the ball at the Bucs five-yard-line. Other than that though, they got a pick from Jason Pierre-Paul and were absolutely dominant up front, getting pressure on Teddy Bridgewater (hope he’s ok; he injured his knee following a JPP sack) and limiting the run game, only giving up 65 yards total on the ground.
Kicker Ryan Succop even had a huge game, converting on all four of his field goals (although they had an extra point blocked, but that’s not Succop’s fault).
So all in all, a much-needed big win for the Bucs. Following last week’s drumming at the hands of the Saints, the Bucs came out and looked angry, and rightfully so. They played like a team that was pissed at itself for playing so awful, and they took out their anger on the Panthers. Poor cats didn’t even know what hit ‘em.
Next week the Bucs take on the L.A. Rams, who beat the Seahawks late Sunday afternoon, on Monday Night Football. The Rams have Aaron Donald, a one-man wrecking crew, and an offense that is as inconsistent as the Bucs defense. Some good news is that the Bucs will hopefully get left guard Ali Marpet back, and Chris Godwin seems to still be healthy, as he had a great game against Carolina, leading the Bucs in receiving yards. Look for the Bucs to continue to try to run the ball, because as last week showed, when they don’t, things can go south real quick, and on the defensive side of the ball, it’d be nice to see them continue to dial up some big blitzes, because Jared Goff can be made uncomfortable if you knock him on his butt enough times.
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