Breathe, Bucs fans.
Despite a third-quarter run from the Panthers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers held on for their first victory of the season, 31-17, over their NFC South rival. In the first half, on both sides of the ball, the Buccaneers looked like a well-oiled machine as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead after two quarters. A Tom Brady interception gave life to the Panthers in the third, however, Leonard Fournette’s 49-yard run sealed the victory for Tampa.
Speaking of Brady, it was the quarterbacks first win as a Buccaneer and despite the interception, he was really good under center on Sunday. In the first half, Brady completed 17-of-23 for 198 yards and a touchdown. He ended the game 23-of-35 for 217 yards and a touchdown as well as the one interception.
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The numbers don’t jump off the screen but the Bucs dropped several passes, including two potential deep touchdowns. He also had a pass to Fournette fall just inches short of the endzone. The point is, numbers can be misleading and despite the interception, the 43-year-old had a strong game.
Three Up, Three Down
After an uninspiring debut in Week One (five carries, five yards), Fournette found his groove against the Panthers. The aforementioned 49-yard touchdown run sealed the win for the Bucs but for the day, the former Jaguar averaged 8.6 yards a carry and ended the day with 103 yards on the ground and four catches for 13 yards.
Antoine Winfield Jr.
In two games, Winfield Jr. has quickly established himself as one of the Buccaneers’ most dangerous playmakers on a defense ripe with them. In his NFL debut last week, Winfield Jr. picked up his first interception, and Sunday against the Panthers, his strip-sack, recovered by Jason Pierre Paul, led to a Buccaneers touchdown in the first half. He ended the game with 11 total tackles.
As mentioned before, the numbers don’t jump off the screen but his game film does. Are there still issues that need to be worked out? Sure. However, Brady’s command of the offense is apparent and it seems that several of the issues that plagued the offense a week ago were less noticeable this week. In particular, he and Mike Evans seemed far more in sync against Carolina.
🚨 NEW ARRIVALS 🚨
— Full Press Buccaneers (@FPC_Buccaneers) September 20, 2020
It is early, however, Gronk looks like the player that he was at the end of the 2018 season. Now, there could be some rust given his year off, however, he doesn’t look like the dominating player he was for so many seasons in New England. Against the Panthers, Gronkowski had no receptions on just one target. He did draw a defensive penalty that gave the Bucs a first down, however, it was a pass that went right through his hands. His one target led to Brady’s lone interception of the game. It wasn’t a great throw from Brady but it’s fair to wonder if he would have brought it down regardless.
Jones did have a rushing touchdown, however, a bad exchange between he and Brady led to a turnover that killed an early offensive drive. On the ground, Jones averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. Conversely, newcomer Fournette averaged 8.8 and seemed to get stronger and more comfortable as the game went on.
After a nice debut last week (five receptions for 73 yards), Miller caught just two passes for 11 yards against the Panthers. Now, Mike Evans took a lot of the targets, however, with the absence of Chris Godwin with a concussion, the hope would be that Miller would build off the strong debut with a bigger opportunity for targets against the Panthers.
The Buccaneers look to move to 2-1 in Denver as they take on the Broncos.