The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traveled to SoFi Stadium for a matchup with the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday afternoon, which the Rams won convincingly 34-24. Tom Brady completed 41 of 55 passes for 432 yards and a touchdown. Mike Evans led the Bucs in receiving with 8 catches for 106 yards. Giovani Bernard, who caught nine passes, snared Brady’s lone touchdown in the game’s waning moments. Brady actually led the Bucs in rushing with 14 yards on 3 carries.
Offenses struggle out of the gate
The teams traded three and outs for the first three series, with the first five ending in punts. A false start killed a third and 1 for the Bucs in the game’s first series. They came up a yard short on a third and 2 on the next one. They managed to get moving on their third series, but a deep ball for Rob Gronkowski went off his fingertips and forced a punt.
Both teams come alive in the second quarter
With 5:27 left in the first quarter, the Rams began a 14-play, 95-yard touchdown drive that ate up 8:05 off the clock. Tyler Higbee caught three balls on the drive, including a 6-yard screen pass for a touchdown.
The Bucs answered with a 15-play, 76-yard drive that saw 5 different receivers catch passes. Chris Godwin took the ball on a handoff and cut back for a 2-yard touchdown run to level the score at 7 each. The Rams answered with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Cooper Kupp 2-yard touchdown grab. The Buccaneers drove down the field in the half’s final minutes. The drive ended with a Ryan Succop’s 55-yard field goal try was wide and short.
Bucs’ pass defense has a rough day
The Bucs’ heralded pass rush has not been nearly as dominant in the season’s first month as it was in the latter part of the 2020 campaign. This was evident in the middle quarters of the game today. Jason Pierre-Paul was out, giving Joe Tryon-Shoyinka the start. Unfortunately neither he, nor Shaq Barrett, nor any of the rest of the front could get much of a push against the Rams offensive line. Stafford had all day to throw, and was able to pick apart the Bucs’ depleted secondary. Jamel Dean left with a knee injury, requiring Dee Delaney to come in as relief. The Buccaneers simply did not have anyone that could stay with Kupp, who burned the Buccaneers defense for the second straight year. Kupp caught 9 passes for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns.
To add insult to injury, it was former Buccaneer Desean Jackson who beat the Buccaneers secondary on third and 10 for a 75-yard score to open the third quarter. Jackson put on a post-and-go move to blow by the secondary and caught the ball with enough time to weave and taunt his trailing would-be tacklers to the end zone. He would pull in a 40-yard grab on the Rams’ following possession to put LA in goal-to-go, where Kupp caught his second touchdown for a 28-14 lead that the Bucs would never recover from. Jackson finished with 3 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Bucs suffer a handful of injuries
In addition to the injury to Dean, Rob Gronkowski left the game with what appeared to be a rib injury following a hard shot after catching a ball in the third quarter. He went to the locker room, but managed to return to the game. It was obvious he was in significant discomfort thereafter. On the Buccaneers final offensive play of the game, Bernard caught a pass and was upended over the goal line into the end zone. He stayed down after the play with an apparent knee injury. However, Bruce Arians said afterwards that his knee is ok.
Brady poised to set a big record in Foxboro
The Bucs travel next week to Foxboro for a matchup with the Patriots. Brady needs 68 passing yards to break Drew Brees’ career passing yardage record of 80,358 yards. In what will already be a highly-emotional, can’t miss matchup between the greatest player and greatest coach of all time, Brady will add another mark to his incredible and likely never-to-be-seen-again Hall of Fame resume in his old stomping ground.
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