It was another one for the record books as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Miami Dolphins 45-17 on a sunny and hot afternoon at Raymond James Stadium.
The Dolphins made it a game in the first half as they took an early 3-0 lead and led the Bucs 10-7. Then the Super Bowl Champions got rolling and were able to put the game away.
Antonio Brown set a new NFL record early in the game on his first catch as he became the fastest receiver to 900 catches in NFL history. Brown finished the day with seven catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns. He is on pace to finish the season with 1,196 receiving yards.
The Dolphins were able to move the ball at will in the first half. Jacoby Brissett and the Miami offense kept the Bucs defense a bit off-balance in the first half, but the Bucs offense was able to put points on the board as they took a 24-10 halftime lead.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneer offense put on a clinic as the Bucs put up 558 yards of offense, the fourth-highest total in franchise history.
Brady threw five touchdown passes and racked up 411 passing yards without being intercepted. This extends his team-record streak to 203 consecutive passes without a pick.
This was also the 12th 400-yard passing game of his career. However, this was the first game of his career in which he had 400-plus yards passing and five TDs.
The Bucs had two receivers go over the 100 yards receiving mark. Antonio Brown had seven catches for 124 yards, and Mike Evans had six catches for 113 yards. Chris Godwin was not far behind as he had seven catches for 70 yards.
Bruce Arians talked about the firepower this Bucs offense can bring at any time.
I mean when we have Chris and Mike, and Brady gets the third guy? That ain’t a fair fight. Now that he (Antonio Brown)knows the offense and Byron is putting him in a position where he knows what he’s doing, he can play really fast. Tom trusts him, and we like that matchup usually week in and week out. And I’m sure it’s going to switch pretty soon. One of those other receivers is going to feast.
All three receivers Brown, Evans, and Godwin, are on pace to have 1,000-yard seasons.
The running game generated 121 yards, led by Leonard Fournette, who averaged 5.6 yards per carry. Fournette finished with 12 carries for 67 yards. He also had a big day receiving as he caught four passes for 43 yards.
Fournette has worked hard the past few weeks to ensure his number is being called, and he has stepped up when his number has been called. He has 159 yards, one touchdown, and seven catches for 90 yards over the last two games. Fournette said that it’s all about earning trust.
You can’t go in in practice dropping a lot of balls. In the back of Brady’s mind, he’s going to know, ‘I can’t throw that to you. You’re not going to catch it.’ So I try to make every catch he throws to me and make it easy for him. It’s all about earning trust.
Fournette said that Richard Sherman talked to home in the third quarter after another Tom Brady touchdown pass and said:
Man, I’ve never been part of a team with so much talent, and I’m telling him like, ‘Man, this stuff is different. We can score at any time.
The offense was also much better in the red zone today, going 4/6. It was 4/5 if you don’t count the knee taken by Blaine Gabbert as the Bucs were trying to kill the clock.
Arians talked after the game about the precision of the offense against the Dolphins.
It was a good team victory. Offensively, we led the way. Every time they would get back into the game, we’d answer the bell. And that’s what you would expect. I think this was the first fourth quarter when we had the lead and didn’t give up any points. That was a big step forward, also.
The Bucs did get some bad news on the injury front after the game. According to head coach Bruce Arians, linebacker Lavonte David, who went down with an ankle injury, may have a high ankle sprain. If this is the case, it is doubtful that David would be able to play on Thursday night.
The Bucs are off to a 4-1 start for only the fifth time in team history with the win. The Buccaneers also started 4-1 in 1979, 1997, 2002, and 2005. They made the playoffs in all four of those years.
The Bucs now have a short week of preparation ahead as they will play Thursday night in Philly against the Eagles.