Bucs play second solid game in a row

by Gary Shelton on October 26, 2020

in general

Brady threw for four touchdowns./TIM WIRT

Monday, 3 a.m.

Suddenly, they are more than a gathering of talented codgers.

Just like that, the Tampa Bay Bucs are a team.

The Bucs won their second straight impressive game Sunday, running away from the Las Vegas Raiders in a 45-20 victory. Coupled with last week's 38-10 win over Green Bay, the Bucs have not outscored opponents 83-30 over the last two weeks. They've amassed 778 yards in those two games.

Tampa Bay is now 5-2 and has won four of its last five.

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“I think that I’ve seen the growth that I was hoping for since Chicago," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians. "We learned our lesson. We were a beat up football team but there’s never excuses and it’s fun to see us grow as a football team in all three phases.”

Truthfully, it has taken a while. Earlier in the season, even in winning games, the Bucs sputtered to get into sync. But lately, it doesn't' matter who Tom Brady's receivers are, or who the running back is. The offensive line is playing well, the Bucs are melding into a contender.

True, some of their players are aging, and many of them have impressive resumes. However, they can still play.

For instance, consider Tom Brady, the ageless quarterback. On Sunday, he hit 33 of 45 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns. His rating of 127.0 was his high as a Bucs' quarterback, and his yardage tied for his most ever. Brady has one interception in his last five games.

“I think it’s just knowing the guys better, knowing the system better, everything that we change each week," Arians said. "There’s such good communication of what we’re trying to get done, where the ball should be going against each coverage and I just think that it’s total growth in the offense.”

How about Rob Gronkowski? For the second straight week, he caught five passes (62 yards). Still, he was the third favorite target of Brady. Scotty Miller caught six passes for 109 yards and Chris Godwin caught nine for 82.

(Miller seemed to be sending a message to Antonio Brown that he will have to compete to be the No. 3 receiver).

No, it wasn't the overwhelming final three quarters the team played against Green Bay. But it was a 24-20 game in the fourth quarter, and the Bucs pulled away.

"We got behind the down and distance a few times, and overcame it with some third downs," Brady said. "Leonard (Fournette) made a great play on the one where I got it to him quick, and he got vertical and got the first down. Mike (Evans) got the pass interference on the one where he had the out and up. There were some really good plays that were made and glad we finished the game strong. It’s a good football team. They play hard. Good to go on the road and get a win.”

The Bucs got big games from Miller and Chris Godwin, who had nine catches.

When Arians talks about Godwin, he is filled with praise.

“He’s right there with some guys that I’ve had," Arians said. "Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Hines Ward. The type of receiver, the dirty work receiver, but he also can go downfield. That’s the thing he has over all of them. He’s a deep threat when he’s healthy. To me he’s the ultimate football player. He blocks like a tight end, he runs routes like the best wideouts in the league, inside or outside, and that’s why he’s so valuable to our offense.”

Of course, that hasn't stopped people from talking about Brown, who they signed on Friday. He will be available in Week Nine.

"It’s an insurance policy," Arians said. "When we don’t have Mike (Evans) and we don’t have Chris, why not have another Pro Bowl-caliber player that’s available and fits our cap and fits everything else? So why not? We have good players but you can’t have enough of them. In Chicago we had one of our top guys out there on one leg (Evans), why not have another one of them?

“I think he’s matured and I believe in second chances. Everyone wants to say that Tom picked him. Tom didn’t have anything to do with it. This is something that Jason [Licht] and I have talked about for weeks, ever since the injuries to our other guys. And when the time was right, would we see if we could pull the trigger and fit it into what we want to get done and we’ll see. If Antonio does what I think he’s going to do, he’s going to be fine.”

Said Brady: "He’s a tremendous football player. I played with him for a brief period of time and I’m looking forward to working with him again and seeing what kind of role he can come in and [play]. He’s a very hard-working guy. Again, we’re all going to go out there on the practice field and do the best we can do, and we’re going to see how it all fits together. There is a lot of hard work ahead. None of it magically happens. We realized that early in the season when we put a lot of new people together.

The Bucs weren't as strong defensively as they had been against the Packers, but the Raiders did score 40 against Kansas City.

Devin White had 11 tackles for Tampa Bay.

“We always knew he was a great blitzer, (White and Lavonte David) both are. That’s the beauty of it, when he comes up the middle he’s a force. If we can get him on the back or… they run twists so well together too. He’s a dynamic player and both of them, with the speed they have, it makes them ridiculous in the pass rush game.”

The Bucs, who have a half-game lead on the Saints in the NFC South, play in New York against the Giants on Sunday.

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