After the worst game of the season against the Saints, the Bucs bounced back with a huge division win this week. Carolina lost 46-23 to the visiting Buccaneers and they have now dropped five in a row. This was a nice bounce back week for Tampa, as they got a division win back that they lost last week, and are still in contention for the lead. There were tons of issues at the airport for Tampa as well and there were thoughts around the league on if the game would be played. They had not gotten into their Charlotte hotels until midnight and they still had to be ready by 1:00 PM EST for the game.
With all that being said, they played a close first half in which the Panthers got a short field touchdown after another RoJo fumble. But after the first half, the defense locked in and started to dial up the pressure against Teddy Bridgewater and actually knocked him out of the game late. This had no effect on the game, as the outcome was pretty much decided by that time. The Panthers had everything going for them early and they were picking up the blitzes and hitting their check downs early to pick up some key first downs. The game shifted after halftime and the defense started to pick up the intensity. Carolina only scored six points in the second half of this game.
The run game came back to life, aided by a 98 yard touchdown run from Rojo in the 3rd quarter, which is actually the biggest play in the franchise’s history. With that being said, it looks like even with the fumble, he will continue to be the number one running back on the roster. Fournette is still getting some carries and touches in the pass game, but they have not benched Rojo for him as they were earlier in the season.
The run game performed so well, that even Tom Brady got a rushing touchdown. The team ran for a season high of 210 rushing yards. Tampa Bay also did not have to punt the ball at all this game. They were clicking on all cylinders, and ended the game scoring on every single drive except the first one (fumble by Rojo) and the last one (kneel down). This is something that has not been done by them this season and is a good step in the right direction.
The offense looked great passing the ball also, and they even missed a few huge plays. Brady finished the game with 341 passing yards and three touchdowns without a pick, which he had the exact opposite last week. Brady was making the right throws all day and did not have many mishaps with the few overthrows he had being chalked up to the wind gusts as per Bruce Arians.
Antonio Brown came alive and dominated from the slot with ease it seemed like. Chris Godwin also had a good game, as he always seems to be open. Mike Evans who dropped a few key passes, still ended with a really good game too and a touchdown catch for the ages. Even Rob Gronkowski got in on the fun and caught a couple passes, including a touchdown that basically sealed the deal for the victory this week. With Drew Brees getting hurt for a seemingly long time, this may be the turning point of the season for this team to start clicking and take over not only the division, but the NFC as a whole.