One week after getting embarrassed by the Saints on national television, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers responded by taking out all of their frustrations on the Carolina Panthers in a 46-23 blowout win. The Buccaneers made a lot of changes after their 38-3 loss to New Orleans and they all seemed to pay off. One of the most notable changes this week came on the offensive line, with Ryan Jensen being moved from center to guard. With Jensen no longer snapping the ball to Brady, the job was given to A.Q. Shipley.
The decision to make the switch paid off dividends as Brady rarely faced pressure in the win. The 43-year-old quarterback had plenty of time to throw almost every time he dropped back, and Brady definitely took advantage of that as he ended up completing 28 of 39 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns.
One of Brady’s most impressive passes came on a 44-yard strike to Rob Gronkowski that the Buccaneers desperately needed. At the time of the pass, the Buccaneers were facing a second-and-13 with just under two minutes to play in the first half while trailing 17-10.
Gronk’s catch took the Buccaneers from Carolina’s 48-yard line all the way down to the 4. Three plays later, Brady would hit Mike Evans for a three-yard score that seemed to give Tampa Bay all the momentum. Including that touchdown, the Buccaneers would outscore the Panthers 36-6 from that point on.
Speaking of Evans, he was a hot topic in Tampa this week and that’s because Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians was clearly frustrated that Brady didn’t look to Evans more during Tampa Bay’s 38-3 loss to New Orleans.
“Mike was open a bunch in that ball game,” Arians said after the Week 9 loss. “He didn’t get targeted, that was all. Mike was open.”
Brady clearly took the criticism to heart, because he looked to Evans early and often against the Panthers. Of the 39 passes Brady threw in the game, 11 of them went to Evans, who caught six passes for 77 yards and a three-yard touchdown that you can see below.
The scary thing about the Buccaneers offense is that it’s still a work in progress. Changes on the offensive line after Week 9? Not enough targets for Evans? Those are two of the issues that got fixed this week, and unfortunately for the Panthers, they were the team that just happened to be on the field on the day where the Buccaneers offense seemed to figure everything out. Even Antonio Brown got in on the action, catching seven passes for 69 yards.
Although the Buccaneers were impressive through the air, the play of the game for Tampa Bay came on the ground in the third quarter when Ronald Jones recorded the third-longest touchdown run in NFL history.
That touchdown seemed to deflate the Panthers defense, who just couldn’t do anything to stop the Buccaneers in the second half. Jones’ 98-yard run tied Ahman Green for the third-longest in NFL history, trailing only Tony Dorsett and Derrick Henry, who both scored on a 99-yard run.
The win over the Panthers puts the Buccaneers one step closer to a playoff berth, and although they might not win the division, they should have their sights set on the fifth seed in the NFC because that would allow them to play the NFC East winner in the wild-card round. That’s the draw that every NFC team is going to want.
Alright, let’s get to the grades for every game from Week 10. If you’re looking for a deeper dive on the Colts-Titans game that was played Thursday, be sure to click here.
Tampa Bay 46-23 over Carolina
Buccaneers-Panthers grades by Josh Edwards (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Cleveland 10-7 over Houston
Detroit 30-27 over Washington
Green Bay 24-20 over Jacksonville
N.Y. Giants 27-17 over Philadelphia
Eagles-Giants grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Pittsburgh 36-10 over Cincinnati
Bengals-Steelers grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Miami 29-21 over L.A. Chargers
Chargers-Dolphins grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
L.A. Rams 23-16 over Seattle
Seahawks-Rams grades by Jared Dubin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Arizona 32-30 over Buffalo
Bills-Cardinals grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Las Vegas 37-12 over Denver
New Orleans 27-13 over San Francisco
New England 23-17 over Baltimore
Ravens-Patriots grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)