The banged up and battered Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense delivered a stark reminder to the rest of the N.F.L. that even though they are bruised, this defense can still bring the pain, as their 4 sacks and 5 turnovers led the way to an easy 38-3 shellacking of the Chicago Bears.
What I Liked
- The battered secondary picking off Justin Fields three times.
- The Bucs defense forced 5 turnovers (and should have had a couple more).
- Tom Brady: Mr. 600.
- Mike Evans gutting through obvious pain for 3 big-man touchdown receptions.
- The Buccaneers running game.
What I Didn’t
- Two more injuries to the cornerback position.
- The offense’s second half red zone efficiency.
Pieces of Eight
Fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t used to this. Heck, I’m not used to this. Trying to come up with things to say after a complete and total dismantling of a team that isn’t as bad as the score indicated. This is a Bears team that has beaten the current top two seeds in the AFC in the Bengals and Raiders. They took Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to the limit last week (Green Bay only salted the game away with 4 minutes remaining). Let us also not forget that this Chicago team gave the Bucs an ugly blemish on their record last season. So, folks, these aren’t the Lions we’re talking about here.
The Bears fell to 3-4 and still have some somewhat realistic playoff aspirations. Yet, even with injuries abound, the Buccaneers wiped the floor with them in the first half and then just toyed with them in the second half. In Tampa Bay’s history, it’s usually the Bucs on the receiving end of these types of games. Weird.
It’s funny to listen to the national pundits, the fantasy guys, even opposing fans and writers as they try to size up the Bucs’ defense. “The Bucs’ pass defense is terrible” narrative has definitely taken hold and as injuries have mounted, everyone has pointed to the Bucs as a “get right game” for struggling pass offenses.
Yet, since Week 4, the Bucs’ pass defense has actually been pretty darned excellent – despite the M*A*S*H unit in the secondary. Tampa Bay started the season surrendering 338.3 passing yds per game in their first three games, with only 3 sacks and 4 interceptions and a whopping 72% completion percentage. The Bucs defense surrendered 29.3 points per game during that stretch.
In their last four games, though, the Bucs’ pass defense has surrendered just 209.3 yds through the air, registered 13 sacks and 6 interceptions, while reducing the completion percentage to a more average-to-the-mean 65.6% and their points allowed per game has been a sparkling 14.7.
Now, of course, Tampa Bay faced Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, and Matthew Stafford in the first three games. The last four games saw the not-really-murderer’s row of Mac Jones, Jacoby Brissett, Jalen Hurts, and Justin Fields. With that said and as we began this second piece of eight, those teams looked at the Buccaneers as their “get right game”. Instead, Tampa Bay dominated despite having three of their top corners, their top safety, and the a few of the guys who replaced those top corners, miss time.
Make no mistake, the Saints will look at the Bucs the same way. The New Orleans passing game is ranked 31st entering tonight’s game at Seattle. The only passing offense worse than the Saints is…Chicago.
Tom Brady became the first quarterback in N.F.L. history to throw 600 touchdown passes. Think about that for a moment. All of the great quarterbacks that have played this game – Montana, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, John Elway – none of these greats ever got close. It not only says a lot about Brady’s longevity, heck, in this game he added 601 and 602, but it also speaks to his greatness and what a wonderful opportunity Bucs fans have to witness these historic achievements.
Truth be told, Sunday wasn’t Brady’s best performance. He was inaccurate most of the game, completing just 55% of his passes and he had a pedestrian 211 yds passing on the day. Not the typical level we see from the G.O.A.T. Still, Brady threw four touchdown passes and his team scored 38 points on the day. Tampa Bay played with short fields most of the game, leaving the Buccaneers without a need to make those 80 yard drives – only two of their drives was over 43 yds.
In the end, Tampa Bay put a blitzkrieg on the normally stout Bears defense, essentially ending the game before halftime.
It was a weird game in that since it was decided by halftime, there wasn’t really much to be done but grind that clock out in the second half. Head Coach Bruce Arians wasn’t happy that Tampa Bay got complacent in the second half of games against Atlanta and Philadelphia, allowing those teams back into it and making it closer than they should have been. Sunday’s game had no such drama. The defense continued to dominate in the second half, adding two more turnovers and another sack to really give the Bears no illusion that they had an opportunity to come back.
Bucs fans were so bored that they started mocking Bears fans’ “Fire Matt Nagy” chants with the politically charged “Let’s Go Brandon” chants (an allegory to a not-so-nice chant about President Joe Biden) and singing karaoke to Bon Jovi’s “Living on A Prayer” and the Beastie Boys “Fight for Your Right (To Party)”.
Oh, and this particular writer and his lovely wife decided to celebrate Halloween dressed as pirates on Sunday.
Man, Mike Evans truly is a warrior isn’t he? Evans was obviously dealing with some discomfort during the game, even coming off the field visibly injured a few times. Yet Evans still made contested catch after contested catch on Sunday, including three Tom Brady touchdown passes, bringing Evans’ total to 7 TD receptions on the year.
Evans would finish the game and haul in 6 of his 10 targets for 76 yds.
Of course, he also goofed, giving away Tom Brady’s 600 ball, but luckily, Buccaneers officials were able to retrieve it from a lucky fan who will get well compensated. I would have taken no less than dinner with Tom and Giselle.
The Carolina Panthers continued their freefall after starting the year 3-0. Carolina’s 4th consecutive defeat came in ugly fashion, to the previously one-win New York Giants. The shocking thing was it wasn’t even close, 25-3. The Falcons, meanwhile, were out “Falcon’d” by the Miami Dolphins. After Atlanta blew a 13 point lead and fell behind 28-27 with 2:27 left in the game, Atlanta drove 57 yds in 9 plays to set up Younghoe Koo’s 36 yd game winning field goal as time expired. The Saints head to Seattle tonight for Monday Night Football. It would be nice if the 12’s could pull off a shocking upset and give the Bucs a little breathing room in the NFC South.
It’s Saints Hate Week. What else is there to say? New Orleans will either be 4-2 or 3-3 heading into this huge game against the Bucs. If it’s the former, this game will be for the lead in the NFC South. We all know the history, Tampa Bay has struggled against the Saints for the last few years, but shocked New Orleans in the playoffs on their way to the Super Bowl, ending future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees career in utter disappointment.
The Saints want revenge for that playoff loss, while Brady and the Buccaneers want even more retribution for New Orleans’ series sweep last year and to take full control of the NFC South.
The Bucs have been a different team on the road, with a 2-1 record, averaging just 23.6 points per game and surrendering 24.3 points allowed.
And we haven’t even talked about Jameis Winston, former Bucs QB and first overall pick who has played mistake free football for the Saints entering Monday night (3 interceptions, 1 fumble), while throwing 12 TDs and rushing for another. Winston, though, has kept things “safe”, attempting more than 26 passes just once and averaging only 178.4 yards per game while New Orleans has leaned on their 10th ranked rushing attack.
Tweet of the Week
Tom Brady just walked over to this little boy with :33 left in the game, handed him his hat and shook his hand… and the boy broke down in tears. Man, that one got me. pic.twitter.com/UC7qA7MRkT
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) October 24, 2021
Bucs fans, if you want to help out little Noah’s family, visit the gofundme account here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/y9dqk-help-noah-fight-cancer