The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their first win of the season today 31-17 over the Carolina Panthers.
The Bucs came out red hot as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead at halftime. The Panthers mounted a comeback in the second half, but the Bucs made some plays in the fourth quarter to get the 31-17 win.
It was nice to see the Bucs start fast and keep that momentum longer than one drive.
The Bucs got the ball first and quickly went three and out. On the Panthers ensuing drive, Jordan Whitehead had the Bucs first interception of the season and first turnover of the game. That drive ended in a Ronald Jones seven-yard touchdown run.
After the Jones touchdown run, Mike Evans caught a 23-yard touchdown pass, and Leonard Fournette had a one-yard run touchdown run as the Bucs dominated play in the first half.
The third quarter was one the Bucs would like to forget.
With a chance to put the Panthers away, the Bucs just quit playing in all phases of the game as they let Teddy Bridgewater take the Panthers down the field twice and cut the lead to 21-14.
There was a Tom Brady interception. Wide receiver Cyril Grayson was wide open down the sideline. Brady hit him in stride, but Grayson had the ball bounce off his helmet incomplete.
The usually reliable Rob Gronkowski had one go off his hands he should have caught. Leonard Fournette dropped a touchdown pass.
The team seemed to fall asleep momentarily until Early in the fourth quarter and started playing good football again and were able to put the Panthers away.
The Bucs cannot afford to have those lapses in the middle of games.
Several good things happened that the Bucs can build on for next week’s game against Denver.
The offensive line played much better. Brady was not sacked, and his uniform stayed clean all afternoon.
It was great to see the running game get going. The Bucs finished with an average of 5.5 yards per carry. Leonard Fournette had 12 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
Fournette had a big 46-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to seal the win for the Buccaneers.
Ronald Jones had a fumble in an exchange with Brady. Jones did not see a lot of playing time after that fumble. It will be interesting to see who gets the start this week in Denver. Ronald Jones, or Leonard Fournette.
LeSean McCoy got involved in the passing game this week. McCoy had five catches for 26 yards but did drop a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Bruce Arians said last week that they had to get Mike Evans more involved in the offense and that’s what the Bucs did this week. Evans had seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Outside of the defensive meltdown in the third quarter, it was another solid game for the Buc defenders.
The defense had four sacks of Teddy Bridgewater, two by Ndamukong Suh.
Devin White had 15 tackles in the win, followed by Antoine Winfield Jr. with 11
Jordan Whitehead and Carlton Davis each had interceptions. Davis picked off Bridgewater in the fourth quarter to give Brady the ball back which led to a Ryan Succop 33 yard field goal.
Brady was more in command of the offense in his second start and will need to get build on that every week.
Brady did throw an interception when he was missed Gronkowski and was picked off by Donte Jackson.
Brady had eight interceptions last season. He has three this season. Brady has never thrown more than 14 in a season.
That is a Brady number that could be broken this season.
The Bucs will play in Denver next week against the Broncos. The Bucs will catch a break as the Broncos starting quarterback Drew Lock will be out 2-6 weeks with a shoulder injury.
The Broncos are 0-2 and need a win badly to get their season turned around and stay in contention in the AFC West.