By Michelle Sabin
Sports Talk Florida – Bucs Reporter
Some people may call it bouncing back from a loss, but I would call it resiliency.
The Buccaneers, who are now 7-3, have managed to not only avoid back-to-back losses, but have consistently gotten stronger after each loss. After losing to Chicago in Week 5, the Bucs returned with a stellar performance to take down the undefeated Green Bay Packers.
Head Coach Arians explained on Friday that “we have great leadership and when you have great leadership rarely will you lose two in a row.” The Buccaneers lost last week at home against the Saints, in arguably their worst showing all season. They made critical mistakes and had missed opportunities on all sides of the ball.
Heading into Week 10 against Carolina Panthers, Quarterback Tom Brady wanted to see the team improve on their urgency and learn from their mistakes.
He acknowledged losing games is part of the NFL, but added, “you’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for yourself, you’re not going to make excuses, you are going to get back to work and try to make it better.”
According to Brady, “you win or you learn.” And learn they did. For the third time this season, the Bucs have proved yet again that their resiliency and ability to make corrections will continue to carry them through the season.
The Buccaneers swept the division series against the Panthers, putting up a score of 46-23. Their offense completed 544 yards (compared to 194 yards last week) with 334 passing and 210 rushing. More importantly, they converted 10 out of 16 third downs, compared to only 1 of 9 last Sunday.
And while the Bucs were forced to abandon the run game last week (resulting in a league record for lowest runs in a game), this week Running Back Ronald Jones broke the record for longest run in the Bucs franchise history.
In the third quarter, Jones received a handoff from Brady in their end zone and, after breaking through the line and making a cut on the safety, had an explosive 98-yard touchdown run. He gave credit to the line saying, “offensive line gave me a good push, making my job look easier.”
Brady said, “That was fun . . . I don’t think I’ve ever had a 98-yard run that I’ve been a part of. It was great to see the back of the 27 jersey rolling down the field.”
Brady himself ran in a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to help lock down their lead. Tight Ends Cameron Brate and Rob Gronkowski both scored passing touchdowns, along with Wide Receiver Mike Evans. Bucs kicker Ryan Succop knocked through all four field goals and four extra points; although one extra point was blocked by Carolina.
Brady spread out passes across eight different receivers, including six passes to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans for 92 and 77 yards, respectively, and seven passes to Antonio Brown for 69 yards. RoJo completed 23 carries for 192 yards, but did have the one turnover of the game with an early fumble in the first quarter. While Brady knows they had more passes than last week, he still sees room for improvement.
Altogether, the Bucs offense performed at a level they have been capable of all season. One significant change was the decision to switch out centers, putting in veteran A.Q. Shipley and moving Ryan Jensen to guard. After the game, Brady said, “they did a great job” and added, “we are getting great protection, they’re doing great in the run game, blocking hard and being aggressive up front.”
On the defensive side, the Bucs had three sacks and an interception by Outside Linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul. The Inside linebackers double threat of Lavonte David and Devin White both picked up six tackles, helping to keep pressure on the Panthers offense.
Pierre-Paul said after the game, “we know we are a better defense than we showed today. We just need to work on it.” He added, “we didn’t start off great, but we ended really well.”
Meanwhile, the Bucs special teams had a big stop on a fake punt. With a minute left in the third quarter, Carolina tried their fourth fake punt of the year. Justin Watson immediately read the play and charged in on punter Joseph Charlton for the sack.
On Friday, veteran linebacker Will Gholston discussed how the team returned to One Bucs Place after their loss against New Orleans. He said they watched film, made corrections, and “it felt like the energy and communication is back to status quo.”
Whether it is their status quo or not, the Bucs certainly have resiliency on their side. Now they just need to work on their consistency.
Buccaneers return home to take on the LA Rams (6-3) on November 23rd for Monday Night Football.
The videos used in this story were provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Youtube Channel.