Tom Brady Dominant as Buccaneers Defeat Derek Carr, Raiders to Improve to 5-2

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2020

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) and wide receiver Tyler Johnson (18) after Gronkowski scored a touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers climbed back into first place in the NFC South with a 45-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.

The New Orleans Saints beat the Carolina Panthers 27-24 earlier in the day to improve to 4-2 and thus claim first place via the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay now has a half-game lead on New Orleans.

This matchup was originally slated for the Sunday night prime-time slot but got moved up by four hours because of COVID-19-related concerns. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Raiders and Saints didn't have any new positive tests, which meant the action would go on as scheduled.

A one-yard touchdown reception for Darren Waller made it a one-score game in the third quarter, and Daniel Carlson connected on a 36-yard field goal with 12:43 left in the game to bring the Raiders to within four points, 24-20.

On the following drive, Tom Brady missed a throw to Mike Evans on third down, but a pass interference call provided the Bucs with a lifeline. Brady capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin.

That effectively put the game out reach.

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Ronald Jones II added another touchdown less than a minute later to eliminate any doubt.


Notable Peformers

Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers: 33-of-45, 369 yards, four touchdowns; one carry, one yard, one TD

Scotty Miller, WR, Buccaneers: six receptions, 109 yards, one touchdown

Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers: nine receptions, 88 yards, one touchdown

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Buccaneers: five receptions, 62 yards, one touchdown

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders: 24-of-36, 284 yards, two touchdowns, one interception; two carries, 19 yards

Nelson Agholor, WR, Raiders: five receptions, 107 yards, one touchdown

Darren Waller, TE, Raiders: six receptions, 50 yards, one touchdown


Scotty Miller Adds to Breakout Season

Just as everyone expected in this star-studded offense, Scotty Miller has emerged as one of Brady's most reliable targets.

As a rookie, Miller had one game with 50-plus yards receiving. He has done that four times already in 2020, and Sunday was the first time he eclipsed the century mark.

Brady hit the second-year pass-catcher with a beautiful throw to the corner of the end zone for six points in the second quarter:

Miller earned strong reviews in training camp, so his emergence isn't a total surprise. The comparisons to Julian Edelman are inevitable, but the downfield threat he's posing is something Edelman didn't have in his arsenal when he and Brady played together.

It looks like the old Rob Gronkowski—or at least a reasonable facsimile—is back.

Gronkowski had his first touchdown catch with the Buccaneers last week. He followed up with another strong game Sunday, finding the end zone for the second time.

The five-time Pro Bowler is returning to form just as the Buccaneers are preparing to welcome Antonio Brown into the fold, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.


Raiders Lose Steam as They Lose Linemen

Football Outsiders ranked the Buccaneers first in defensive efficiency coming into this week's games. Moving the ball against Tampa Bay would've been tough for Las Vegas under the best of circumstances.

The Raiders were already without Trent Brown, who's on the COVID-19/reserve list. His replacement, Sam Young, picked up a knee injury, and starting right guard Gabe Jackson was ejected.

That the team managed to hang with the Buccaneers until the fourth quarter was impressive, and the final score doesn't reflect how the bulk of the game unfolded.

Nobody suffered worse due to the offensive line turnover than Josh Jacobs, who managed only 17 yards on 10 carries. Tampa Bay lived up to the billing as one of the most dominant teams against the run.

There's no shame in losing to a better team. The Buccaneers simply have more talent than the Raiders from top to bottom, and that became apparent in the fourth quarter as they scored 21 points to pull away.


What's Next?

The Raiders face off with the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. ET. The Buccaneers will feature alongside the New York Giants on Monday Night Football on Nov. 2.