Charlotte, NC — It came a week late and didn’t have a decent chunk of their star power, but Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the NFC South title with a 32-6 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, their first division title. Occupied. since 2007 and giving them back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time in franchise history.
“We wanted to hang three banners this year,” said coach Bruce Arian. “We haven’t had one of those division banners in a long time. It feels great. That’s what we focused on to win our division. Our guys did it today. More prouder for that group.” Can’t happen today.”
They were without Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and trailing Leonard Fournette, who, together, comprised about 60% of their scoring offense. On defense, they were without outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, inside linebacker Lavonette David and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. He also lost the Pro Bowl to linebacker Shaq Barrett to a knee injury in the third quarter – early signs that Barrett suffered an MCL sprain and “nothing long-term”, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schaffter. Further investigation will be done on Monday.
“It looks like a minor MCL … right now,” Arian said. “Hopefully we don’t lose Shaq.”
In the passing game he relied on Antonio Brown, who was active for the first time since Week 6 due to an ankle injury and a three-game suspension, and with Cyril Grayson, 101 receiving yards on 10 catches, who had just one catch. Was. Two for the season before Sunday and in his career, but took three catches for 81 yards.
“We had a lot of guys who stepped up and stepped in,” said Ariane, pointing to Grayson’s speed, “brutal inhibition” and ability to step into the big moments. We had a lot of confidence in him.
“He’s gotten a lot better,” Arian said. “If there was anyone ‘the best player’ in the last two years, he or she has worked harder than anyone in our practice team.”
On the field, he turned to Ronald Jones II, who was undefeated by Fournet for the opening role of the previous season, and Ke’Sean Vaughn, who ran for just 50 yards in the season before Sunday. Vaughan took a handoff from 55 yards for a touchdown on the second drive of the game, giving the Bucs their longest running score of the year.
In the second quarter, Brady found Cameron Brett on an oblique route for a 4-yard touchdown and made it 19-6, with the Bucks showing too much tight end use after the unit’s worst performance of the season last week. Jones added the team’s third touchdown on a 7-yard run in the third quarter.
Brady said, “We lost a lot. We lost a lot.” “And I don’t think you’ll make up for it overnight. We have to learn from each other. We have to do something different for the people out there — keep people getting better and improving. Hope.” That we can bring some people back this week and then get a little stronger in these positions.”
Throughout the season, the Bucs had what was perceived as an embarrassment of riches on offense. Even without the Browns for nine games and Gronkowski for five, he repeatedly scored 30 points in a game.
This was until last week, when the team could have won the division with a win but lost 9–0 to the New Orleans Saints. Godwin – two catches of 100 for the season – suffered a torn ACL at the end of the season and Evans and Fournett went down with hamstring strains. Fournet went to injured reserve and Evans’ hopes of a return by the end of the regular season are slim. David also went to the IR with a leg sprain, jeopardizing the Bucs’ hopes of a repeat Super Bowl.
“I’m not taking anything lightly,” Brady said. “Winning the division is hard. And we earned it. We’re 11-4. It’s not the biggest record in the world, but it’s certainly not the worst either. So 11-4 – I’ll take it. Lost games. I think we learned from each of those tough losses.”
And they are still learning. Against the Panthers, there were some mistakes and in Brown’s case some rust, as he and Brady were on different pages on the third-down pass on the opening drive. Brett wasn’t even on the same page with Brady at the Carolina 4-yard line, and in third place, Brady and Gronkowski failed to connect on a corner en route to the end zone.
The defense surrendered the 33-yard design designed to Cam Newton on the Panthers’ inaugural campaign. Had Amir Abdullah not been tripping on one of the legs of his left tackle, the Panthers would have scored a touchdown on his opening drive, but instead settled for a field goal of 24 yards. On busted coverage, Sam Darnold found a wide-open Shi Smith to complete 63 yards.
But he kept the Panthers out of the end zone the entire game. Safety Jordan Whitehead, who led the team with seven combined tackles, saw an interception on a Newton pass to tight end Tommy Tremble. Defensive lineman Will Gholston, Barrett, outside linebacker Anthony Nelson, defensive tackle Vita V and inside linebacker Kevin Minter combined to put Gholston 2.5 for a season-high seven sacks.
And Brown was the difference-maker in third place.
“When I saw him practice this week, I knew he was in great shape,” Arian said of Brown, who registered his 23rd career game of more than 10 receptions, the highest in NFL history. For most broke a tie with Andre Johnson. “He was healthy this week and he told me, ‘Whatever you need, I’m there.'”
Speaking to reporters for the first time since his suspension, Brown chimed in on the “next question” when asked what it meant that Ariane was standing in his corner, while Ariane made it clear that someone else There won’t be a chance.
An NFL investigation determined that Brown and teammate Mike Edwards used fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
Brown said, “We just want to talk about this game. We don’t want to waste time writing you guys.” “I don’t want to talk about that. You guys are all about the drama. It’s all about the football. We just talk about Carolina or I don’t want to talk to you guys.”
“I’m just here to do my job, man. I can’t control what people write, how people try to trap me or people try to bring me down. And life is all about obstacles and persistence.” I am in and doing what is right and achieving the right results. I stand in front of you guys grateful, humbled, grateful and excited to be part of a huge victory with my team. It’s not about what I did What did you do, but what did all the people there collectively do, and that is it.”
“It’s a lot of drama. You guys create a lot of drama. A lot of drama is created by people who want something from me. But it’s just a part of life. It’s a part of being in the situation I’m in. I can’t control what people want from me. I can’t control what people write about me. I can’t control what people say about me. All I can do is Wake up every day and be the best person I can be and when I get a chance to do my job, I do my job at my best, and that’s what we had today.”