Bucs Get Historic Win in Germany, Downing Seahawks 21-16
Two seasons ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first team ever to win a Super Bowl in its own home stadium. On Sunday, the Buccaneers added another historic NFL first: After a 21-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks at Munich's Allianz Arena, Tampa Bay is the first team ever to record a win in a regular-season game played in Germany.
"The crowd was electric," said Todd Bowles. "It was loud throughout the ball game and we win in the end. I thought the German fans were outstanding. It's a great place to play. It's great to go into the bye week with a win. Hopefully we're trending forward."
The Buccaneers improved to 5-5 with their second straight win and now have a one-game lead over 4-6 Atlanta in the NFC South. The Seahawks, still leaders in the NFC West, dropped to 6-4.
After taking their longest flight ever for a regular-season game, the Buccaneers decided to enjoy a series of long drives, as well. The Bucs' offense had produced three touchdown drives of 80 or more yards through the first nine games but had three more Sunday. That was made possible by excellent work on third downs, as the Buccaneers converted 10 of their 15 tries to keep the chains moving and lead to an offensive output of 419 yards.
The Bucs took a 21-3 lead on Tom Brady's four-yard touchdown pass to WR Chris Godwin in the fourth quarter, but the Seahawks wouldn't allow them to coast to victory, scoring 13 unanswered points centered around Brady's first interception since Week One. But rookie RB Rachaad White capped his best day as a pro by keying the game-ending four-minute drill with first-down runs of 12 and 18 yards.
With Leonard Fournette out due to a hip injury in the fourth quarter, White ran for a career-high 105 yards on 22 carries. The Buccaneers came into the game with the league's least productive ground game, while the Seahawks were ranked 10th but ended up out-rushing Seattle by a 161-39 margin.
Tampa Bay's offensive line had what Brady called their best game of the season, blocking for that dominant rushing attack and not allowing a sack. Brady had time to complete 22 of 29 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns. Left tackle Donovan Smith agreed that it was a "statement game" for his crew.
"Oh, absolutely," said Smith. "There was obviously a lot of talk about the run game and what we were doing but we set out this week and said, 'You're on our back.' We got a couple runs going and we felt like we could keep it rolling. We knew what we had to do [at the end], get a couple first downs. To be able to come all the way to Germany and play like that was very satisfying."
Brady ran his record to 4-0 in games played outside of the United States, having previously won twice in London and once in Mexico City. He is now the first quarterback to pick up regular-season NFL wins in four different countries. Brady thoroughly enjoyed the electric atmosphere in front of the 69,000-strong crowd of rabid NFL fans.
"That was one of the great football experiences I've ever had," he said. "Says a lot for 23 seasons in the league. It was a regular season game and I think the crowd turnout was incredible. It felt very electric every time we took the field."
The Buccaneers dominated the first half of the game, picking up 208 yards while allowing just 57, the fewest yards given up by Tampa Bay's defense in any half this season. Seattle did not convert any of their five third-down drives and averaged 2.9 yards per play. Tom Brady was 11 of 16 for 132 yards and a touchdown before the intermission, and the Bucs' rushing attack had 76 yards, 15 more than their per-game average entering the game.
Seattle flipped the momentum after halftime, driving for a field goal on the opening possession and then ending the Bucs' first-drive scoring with a Tariq Woolen interception of an attempted trick pass by Fournette to Brady. Down 11, the Seahawks then drove all the way down to the Buccaneers' nine-yard line before Tampa Bay's inexplicable takeaway drought finally came to an end. After a team-record five straight games without a takeaway, the Bucs ended the scoring threat when ILB Devin White forced a fumble by Geno Smith and OLB Anthony Nelson recovered it at the 13. It was the Bucs' first forced turnover in 347.5 game minutes.
The Bucs then re-established some momentum with an 11-play, 87-yard touchdown drive ending in Chris Godwin's four-yard touchdown reception, making it 21-3 with less than 11 minutes to play. Godwin led the team with six catches for 71 yards but Mike Evans and Julio Jones also topped 50 receiving yards. Devin White led the defense with eight tackles, two sacks and the key takeaway.
"When I saw him scrambling around, we were in a Cub front and I knew I had to make a play," said White of his forced fumble. "I went to wrap with my left hand and punched with my right. I was celebrating because I got the stop but even more when I heard Joe [Tryon-Shoyinka] saying, 'You got the ball out! You got the ball out!"
The Bucs got the ball first but had to start at their own 18 as WR Jaelon Darden slipped twice on his kickoff return. The first possession of the game went no better, as a run for no gain by White was followed by two incompletions. Jake Camarda managed to flip the field with a 59-yard punt that rolled to a stop at the Seahawks' 25.
Seattle got off to a better start with a 10-yard out by WR DK Metcalf but then ran into some difficulty of their own with a delay of game followed by a timeout before they ran their third-and-14 play. Tryon-Shoyinka bulled his way into Smith's lap and then kept him from escaping around the edge, sacking him for a loss of 17 to force a punt. Darden fair caught the kick at the Bucs' 41.
Brady came out firing on the ensuing drive, hitting Evans on a flag route for a gain of 29. However, a holding call on G Nick Leverett erased Fournette's 10-yard run, pushing the ball back to the 38. A run and a catch by Fournette left the Bucs in third-and-14, and the Bucs had to bring out Ryan Succop to try a 52-yard field goal try after Brady's third-down pass to Godwin was incomplete. Succop left his kick short and to the right to keep game scoreless.
The Seahawks thus took over at their 42 and two plays later got into Buccaneers territory on a 13-yard catch by Metcalf over the middle. ILB Devin White stopped Walker from getting around the edge two plays later and the Seahawks had to back up 15 yards after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on G Damien Lewis. After a 15-yard catch by TE Noah Fant, the Seahawks appeared to be going for it on fourth-and-seven from the 39 before reconsidering and punting the ball down to the Bucs' 12.
White came back into the game to start the next possession with two runs for a total of 13 yards. Three plays later, the Bucs faced a third-and-one at their 34 and White made a sharp cut on a pitch right and shot through the gap for a gain of eight. Fournette got the ball on the next third down, needing two yards and getting seven up the gut.
After the teams switched sides to start the second quarter, Brady found Evans for a first down at the Seattle 31. Brady had TE Cam Brate running free down the right seam but LB Jordyn Brooks made a leaping pass breakup. The Bucs needed 10 yards on third down but got much more than that as Brady hit Jones on a crosser and the receiver sprinted all the way to the end zone for a 31-yard score and a 7-0 Bucs lead.
A seven-yard Smith scramble put the Seahawks into a third-and-two and Tryon-Shoyinka chased the QB into an incompletion in Tyler Lockett's direction. Darden executed a fair catch at the Bucs' 14 on the Seahawks' third punt. Evans appeared to get around CB Tariq Woolen on a second-down catch but then slipped on the grass and came up two yards short of a first down. The Bucs called a timeout before their third-down play and Brady converted with a five-yard dart into Evans' gut at the 27.
Two plays later, WR Scotty Miller drew a pass interference call at the 32 for another first down. Fournette's 10-yard run got another first down at the Bucs' 44 and two more Fournette carries made it third-and-three just across midfield. Brady got off an impressive sideline pass to Miller for just enough to move the chains, then found Miller again down the middle for a 22-yard gain down to the five. Miller jumped to make the chain and briefly lost the ball when he landed on his back but was able to pull it back in. Fournette got the ball to the edge of the goal line over right tackle on first down and easily walked it in on the next play, giving the Bucs a 14-0 lead with 4:31 left in the first half.
Smith and Metcalf hooked up again for nine yards to start the next drive and Walker got three to gain a first down before dropping Smith's ensuing first-down pass. Two play later, CB Jamel Dean broke up a sideline pass to Metcalf at the sticks and the Seahawks had to punt again. Michael Dickson did the 'Hawks a favor by bouncing a 68-yard punt out of bounds at the four.
Two White runs into a stacked front put the Bucs in a third-and-seven as the two-minute warning arrived. White retreated into the end zone on third down and had to get off a quick incompletion with pressure in his face. Rookie P Jake Camarda blasted a 63-yard punt back to the Seahawks' 38.
Devin White kept the Seahawks from getting off to a good start by shooting up the middle on a blitz for a 10-yard sack. Smith gave Seattle a shot with 19-yard strike over the middle to WR Marquise Goodwin but S Antoine Winfield Jr. stopped Walker for a loss of two on third down and the Seahawks had to kick it away, with Dickson blasting it down to the two with 28 seconds left. Seattle made the Bucs kneel three times by using their last two timeouts.
The Seahawks started the second half with the ball and TE Will Dissly spun out of a tackler to open the drive with a 13-yard gain. Running a hurry-up attack, Smith hit Dissly again for 15 more into Bucs territory then immediately hooked up with Metcalf for a sideline gain of 12. From the 35, Smith looked to the other sideline for another 12-yard hookup with Lockett. Three plays later, on third-and-eight from the 22, Dean kept tight coverage on Metcalf and prevented a completion right at the goal line. Metcalf was also flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct towards an official, which backed Jason Myers' field goal try up to a 55-yard. Myers nailed it to get Seattle on the board.
The Bucs' first drive of the half started a their own 29 and quickly fell into a third-and-three after a quick second-down strike to Evans. Brady kept the drive alive with a perfect five-yard out to Jones, and then Fournette took a wildcat snap and got two yards. Fournette's next carry got exactly to midfield and set up a third-and-one. A pitch left to White worked well enough to earn a new first down at the Seattle 47.
Brady executed a fake handoff well on first down and found rookie TE Cade Otton for a gain of seven, and Godwin made an impressive leaping catch on the sideline for a first down at the 22. The drive came to an unceremonious end, however, as an attempted trick play with Fournette throwing to Brady was intercepted at the six by CB Tariq Woolen. Brady was also flagged for tripping after the pick, moving the ball out to the 16.
An unnecessary roughness flag was tacked on to the end of Smith's scramble made it first-and-10 at the 35. Smith then found Noah Fant for 11 more against a big blitz and then Metcalf for another 11. Two plays later, Metcalf ran a deep out and Smith connected again for a first down at the Bucs' 22. On third-and-three from the 14, Walker took a shotgun handoff over left guard and got another first down at the nine. Two plays later, the Seahawks tried a delayed run by Smith but the Bucs bottled it up and then White knocked the ball loose and Nelson recovered it at the 13.
After Brady converted a third-and-seven by finding Godwin over the middle for 12, White ended the third quarter by breaking free over left guard and sprinting for 29 yards, the last few coming courtesy of a vicious stiff-arm. Two plays after the teams switched sides, Brady found Otton down the left seam and hit him for a 25-yard gain, with the rookie tight end holding on after taking a very hard hit from S Quandre Diggs.
A very well-designed misdirection tight end screen to Cameron Brate worked to the tune of eight yards and a third-and-inches at the seven. The Bucs lined up in a shotgun but handed off to White, who got a first down at the four with a tough run over left guard. Two plays later, Brady hung in the pocket for a long time before firing a touchdown pass to Godwin just over the goal line.
The Seahawks answered with a swift 77-yard touchdown march on five plays, the last one a scrambling 21-yard touchdown pass by Smith to Lockett. Smith started the drive with a screen to Walker that gained 23 yards. The Bucs did get a stop at the end of the possession, denying a two-point conversion attempt to keep the score at 21-9 with 8:20 to play.
CB Michael Jackson broke up Brady's second-down pass intended for Jones at the start of the next drive, leading to a third-and-10. Brady scrambled away from pressure and found RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who took the short pass, spun away from a defender and ran for just enough to convert the third down. Two plays later, Barton leaped to pick off Brady's 27th pass of the game, giving the Seahawks possession at the Bucs' 45.
S Mike Edwards broke up a third-down sideline pass to TE Colby Parkinson but Smith converted the fourth-and-three with an under-pressure pass to Lockett. On the next play, Smith scrambled out of pressure and got down to the 19. A wheel-route pass to Fant just missed getting the ball into the end zone as Fant couldn't hold on and Akiem Hicks stopped Walker short of the line to gain to make it fourth-and-one at the 19. Smith scrambled left on fourth down and threw to Goodwin, who made an incredible diving catch to shrink the Bucs' lead to five points with four minutes to play.
Brady got a first down two plays into the ensuing drive with a 13-yard strike over the middle to Godwin. After White plunged for three yards to the 34, the Seahawks burned their first timeout of the half. White then dashed up the middle for 13 yards, forcing Seattle to burn a second timeout. After the break, Brady surprisingly faked a handoff and found Jones open over the middle for 17 more to the Seattle 37 as the two-minute warning arrived. White then iced the game by breaking out around right tackle for a gain of 18 to the 19, sliding down at the end to stay inbounds.
Scott Smith, Buccaneers.com, published 14 November 2022