Tom Brady, Buccaneers bounce back from demoralizing loss with 46-23 win over Panthers

The question on everyone’s mind this week was how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would respond after their demoralizing 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 9. More specifically, how would Tom Brady respond after enduring the worst loss of his career? Would he bounce back, or continue to look like the 43-year-old quarterback he is?

Brady and the Bucs responded by getting back to business Sunday. Despite some strong play from Teddy Bridgewater and the Carolina Panthers early in the game, the Bucs looked more than functional and prevailed with a 46-23 win. After a close first half, the Bucs took control in the third quarter and ran away with the game.

Tom Brady vs. Teddy Bridgewater

This is the Tom Brady we’re used to seeing. After a horrendous performance against the Saints (22 for 38, 209 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions), Brady went 28 of 39 passes for 341 yards and three passing touchdowns, plus one rushing.

This is the Brady we all know.

This is also Good Brady.

Brady really did look like he was back to normal. The Bucs tied the game at 17 at the end of the first half, which was made possible by a monster catch from Brady’s old New England Patriots teammate Rob Gronkowski.

Brady wasn’t the only quarterback finding success. Bridgewater matched him in the first half, starting the game by tying his personal record of 12 straight catches, including a lofty 38-yard pass to D.J. Moore that led to a touchdown.

Bridgewater completed 18 of 24 passes for 136 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, but he didn’t end the game on the field. He went to the locker room with a knee injury with just a few minutes left and was replaced by P.J. Walker.

Tampa rules second half

Both teams seemed evenly matched after going into the second half tied at 17, but the Buccaneers pulled ahead on a field goal in the third quarter and never looked back. Up 20-17 and staring their second drive of the half at their own 5-yard line, running back Ronald Jones II ran the ball 98 yards for a touchdown, setting the record for the longest run in Buccaneers history.

The Bucs ruled the third quarter, but several times they had to settle for field goals when Brady couldn’t connect with a receiver in the end zone. But points are points, and they continued to rack ’em up while the Panthers struggled to break through Tampa’s defense. Carolina even tried a fake punt, its fourth of the year, but the Bucs were more than ready for it.

The Panthers weren’t totally cooked, scoring a touchdown after a massive 98-yard kick return early in the fourth quarter.

Despite that, the Buccaneers continued to dominate. They scored two more touchdowns and ended up winning by more than 20 points. For a team that was getting serious questions about its basic functionality after last week, this is a pretty good way to bounce back and show that it was just an aberration.

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates after a 98-yard touchdown run by Ronald Jones II during their NFL game against the Carolina Panthers.
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady went back to being himself in the Bucs' defeat of the Panthers. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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