LAS VEGAS – Tom Brady didn’t really need Antonio Brown on Sunday.
Brady used plenty of other weapons to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 45-20 romp against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday at an empty Allegiant Stadium.
Brady passed for 369 yards with four touchdowns and had his highest-rated passer game of the season (127.0) while demonstrating a certain comfort level in the Bucs offense. And there was only so such pressure. He was never sacked.
It sure helps to have a supporting cast of playmakers. There was Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette and a guy named Scotty Miller.
Tom Brady #12, Rob Gronkowski #87, and Tyler Johnson #18 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on October 25, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo: Jamie Squire, Getty Images)
Brown, the controversial four-time All-Pro wideout who agreed to a one-year deal on Friday night, is coming to join this crew. Pending the usual health patterns, it could be an embarrassment of riches.
The Bucs (5-2) will take it while trying to stay ahead of the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South race.
And just think: There were fears that the NFL might have to postpone the game that was moved out of the Sunday night prime-time slot due to the threat of a potential COVID-19 outbreak after a positive test result for right tackle Trent Brown.
The Raiders (3-3) could have used a postponement or just called in sick, give the dismal performance.
Two other things we learned from the Bucs romp against the Raiders:
1. The Raiders’ O-line has had better days — With preparation disrupted by Brown’s positive COVID-19 test and a quarantine for the rest of the starting line, the unit (sans Brown) will hardly get an A-grade. On one second-quarter play, Devin White blitzed off the edge untouched to sack Derek Carr, which had to be more embarrassing because two linemen (Gabe Jackson, Brandon Parker) were flagged (penalty declined) for not aligning on the line of scrimmage. Parker was later flagged for a similar infraction and Jackson was tossed from the game in the third quarter for extra-curricular activity on a touchdown play. And the rushing game that usually starts up front was virtually non-existent in averaging 3.2 yards per carry (24 rushes, 76 yards).
2. Count Miller amid the TB12 collection of weapons — Brady arguably threw his best pass of the season in the second quarter when he dropped a 33-yard touchdown in the bucket to Miller, who made a beautiful over-the-shoulder haul with Nevin Lawson draped on his back. Then Miller, who entered the NFL last season as a sixth-round pick, added a 35-yard catch-and-run off a crossing pattern as he worked out of the slot in the third quarter. It set up a field goal. Miller led the Bucs with 109 receiving yards on six receptions. Interestingly, while Godwin (nine catches, 88 yards, one TD), Gronkowski (five catches, 62 yards, one TD) and Leonard Fournette (six catches) had moments, Evans didn’t have a catch until the fourth quarter. It stands to reason that with Brown’s impending arrival, Miller ultimately could move down a notch in the pecking order.
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