3 Takeaways from Buccaneers' Week 6 Win
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles by six points Thursday night, but the final score does not do the performance justice.
The Bucs did whatever they wanted on offense in the first half to break open a double-digit advantage. It took Philadelphia until the fourth quarter to produce any type of response to Tom Brady and Co.
Even when the Eagles got within one possession, the Bucs did not look threatened. Brady drove down the field and finished off the game with a few kneel downs in the red zone.
Brady turned in his fourth multi-touchdown performance of the regular season in the 28-22 victory, and Leonard Fournette scored twice for the first time in a game this season.
Defensively, the Bucs turned the Eagles into a one-dimensional offense, and that threw off Nick Sirianni's game plan for most of the first half.
Offense Faced Few Issues Driving the Ball Down the Field
Brady made things look easy on his three first-half scoring drives.
Tampa Bay opened the contest by going 75 yards on 10 plays over a five-minute, 34-second span. Brady finished off that drive with a touchdown pass to an open O.J. Howard in the left side of the end zone.
The Bucs marched down the field with a similar ease on their second scoring drive. That series needed nine plays over 75 yards to finish in a touchdown.
After a few punts, the Bucs used an 11-play, 72-yard drive to open up a two-score advantage through a 23-yard pass hookup between Brady and Antonio Brown. Tampa Bay's lone scoring drive in the second half came from a similar series, as it went 12 plays and 79 yards in seven minutes and 41 seconds.
Brady and Co. looked unstoppable on those four scoring drives and on the drive that clinched the victory in the final few minutes of the fourth quarter. The Bucs used a 12-play, 57-yard drive to get inside the Philadelphia 10-yard-line before Brady killed off the game with a few kneel downs.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion finished 34-of-42 and once again targeted Brown at a high rate. Brown had nine catches on 13 targets for 93 yards. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were beneath both Brown and Howard on the receiving yard chart.
Fournette turned in his third straight strong performance on the ground, as he earned 81 yards on 22 carries.
If Tampa Bay's offense continues to punch in touchdowns on long scoring drives, it will be hard for any team in the NFL to stop them on a consistent basis.
O.J. Howard's Production Could Help Bucs Moving Forward
We did not learn many new things about the Bucs on Thursday night.
Brady was his regular dominant self, and his connection with Brown is as strong as ever.
The most significant development from the 28-point performance was the play of Howard, who had the second-most receiving yards behind Brown.
The Bucs need someone to fill the void in the passing game created by Rob Gronkowski's injury-related absence, and Howard may be better suited than Cameron Brate to feature in that role.
Howard tied his single-game career high in receptions with six, and he received seven targets for just the sixth time in his career.
If Brady finds a way to unlock Howard over the next few weeks, the Tampa Bay offense could look even better. Howard could still have a use in the red zone when Gronkowski returns because opposing defense will gravitate toward Gronk out of habit.
Howard should not be expected to record six or more catches every week, but he could serve a purpose in the Tampa Bay offense if he keeps Brady's trust and stays healthy.
Rushing Defense Took Away Half of Philadelphia's Offense
The top rushing defense in the NFL made a massive impact on Thursday's game.
The Eagles refused to run the ball in the first half. That led to Miles Sanders having one carry for one yard at halftime.
Sanders finished with 56 yards off nine carries, but most of those came on a 23-yard run late in the fourth quarter when Tampa Bay was more focused on defending the pass.
The Bucs took away half of Philadelphia's offense, which severely limited what Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts could do in the first half to respond to Brady's three scoring drives.
The Eagles had four punts and an interception after they scored on their opening drive of the contest.
The interior dominance from Vita Vea and Co. allowed Tampa Bay to win the time of possession battle by more than 19 minutes.
Tampa Bay outgained Philadelphia 399-213. Most of the Eagles' yards came on two scoring drives in a second half in which they played with more desperation.
If the Buccaneers rushing defense continues to take away one part of an opponent's offense, Brady and Co. will have plenty of time to break open games, just like they did Thursday.
Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.