The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back on track.
After losing to the Los Angeles Rams and just getting past the New England Patriots in the previous two games, Tampa Bay defeated the Miami Dolphins 45-17 in Sunday's showdown at Raymond James Stadium.
Tom Brady, Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette led the way for the victors, who improved to 4-1 on the season.
A solid showing from Myles Gaskin was not enough for the free-falling Dolphins, who fell to 1-4 with their fourth consecutive loss.
Notable Player Stats
- Tom Brady, QB, TB: 30-of-41 passing for 411 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs
- Leonard Fournette, RB, TB: 12 carries for 67 yards, 1 TD; 4 catches for 43 yards
- Mike Evans, WR, TB: 6 catches for 114 yards, 2 TDs
- Antonio Brown, WR, TB: 7 catches for 124 yards, 2 TDs
- Jacoby Brissett, QB, MIA: 27-of-39 passing for 275 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT
- Myles Gaskin, RB, MIA: 5 carries for 25 yards; 10 catches for 74 yards, 2 TDs
Brady Puts on a Clinic as Bucs Offense Bounces Back
Perhaps the Buccaneers are held to an unfair standard after winning the Super Bowl and bringing back all of their primary contributors, but it was rather surprising to see them struggle at times throughout their last two games.
The offense wasted no time putting those struggles in the rearview mirror.
Brady threw for three touchdowns in the first half alone, two of which went to Brown. Tampa Bay lined Brown up in the slot a number of times, and Miami didn't have a chance to stop him, including on a crossing route that he took 62 yards for a touchdown.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @Buccaneers
.<a href="https://twitter.com/_fournette?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_fournette</a> punches it in for 6️⃣<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsTB?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsTB</a> on CBS <a href="https://t.co/DXNAWN3uAN">pic.twitter.com/DXNAWN3uAN</a>
Tampa Bay has so many weapons that defenses have no choice but to single-cover a talented playmaker on every dropback, and perhaps no quarterback is better at exploiting mismatches than Brady. Brown was the one to take full advantage of the situation in the first half and became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 900 catches in the process.
Brady wasn't tasked with doing all the work, as Leonard Fournette started working the clock with physical runs between the tackles and yards after the catch as a receiving threat. He also gave Tampa Bay some breathing room with a fourth-quarter touchdown after the Dolphins had closed within seven.
Miami now had to account for the rushing attack, which is a recipe for disaster against the loaded Buccaneers.
Brady put the finishing touches on the win with two touchdown connections to Evans. It was a reminder to the rest of the NFL that few teams, if any, can match Tampa Bay's firepower as the season shifts into the middle portion of its schedule.
Miami's Quick Offensive Start Fizzles
Things are not going as planned for the Dolphins this season, who had high expectations after finishing the 2020 campaign with a 10-6 record. Instead, Tua Tagovailoa is sidelined with an injury and the playoffs seem like a long shot at best.
Sunday represented a golden opportunity to change the momentum of the season against a championship contender, and Jacoby Brissett started things off on the right foot by leading two scoring drives to start the game and seize an early lead.
The second score was a perfectly lofted pass to Gaskin, who did the rest of the work for a touchdown.
Brissett to Gaskin for the 24-yard TD! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FinsUp?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FinsUp</a><br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsTB?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsTB</a> on CBS<br>📱: NFL app <a href="https://t.co/SvFbu2MvmD">pic.twitter.com/SvFbu2MvmD</a>
Miami Dolphins @MiamiDolphins
.<a href="https://twitter.com/JBrissett12?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JBrissett12</a> ➡️ <a href="https://twitter.com/MylesGAS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MylesGAS</a> <br><br>📺 Watch <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MIAvsTB?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MIAvsTB</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLonCBS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLonCBS</a> <a href="https://t.co/CTb9vyMC8f">pic.twitter.com/CTb9vyMC8f</a>
Unfortunately for Brissett, keeping pace with the GOAT requires almost near perfection. Miami didn't score again the rest of the half and saw a promising drive come to an end when Brissett lost a fumble on a strip-sack by Shaquil Barrett. That's all it took to put the visitors into a daunting hole with a 14-point deficit at intermission.
To Brissett's credit, he didn't back down and marched 87 yards on 11 plays to cut Tampa Bay's lead in half in the third quarter. In a development that was surely thrilling for fantasy football managers, Gaskin was his favorite target throughout the drive and game and hauled in another touchdown catch.
Unfortunately for Miami, fantasy points were about all it would account for Sunday.
All it took was one empty possession to fall behind by 21 points, and Brissett threw an interception to Jamel Dean after shifting into desperation mode in the fourth quarter. The Dolphins are now in serious trouble in the AFC East even though they flashed potential at times against the mighty Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers are at the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6, while the Dolphins face the Jacksonville Jaguars in London.