Sun Sep 27 7:41pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, right, celebrates with quarterback Tom Brady, left, after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Scott Miller (10) make a catch as Denver Broncos free safety Justin Simmons defends during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass under pressure from Denver Broncos defensive end Shelby Harris, right, during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin, right, scores a touchdown as Denver Broncos defensive back Essang Bassey defends during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos cheerleaders perform as two fans sit among cardboard characters from the show South Park during the first half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
DENVER (AP) Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes and Shaq Barrett celebrated his homecoming with a pair of sacks, one for a safety, in Tampa Bay's 28-10 victory over the winless Denver Broncos on Sunday.
With his first road win for the Bucs (2-1), Brady evened his career record against the Broncos at 9-9 with just his fifth win in a dozen trips to Denver.
Before Sunday, the Broncos were the only team in the NFL with a winning record against the six-time Super Bowl champion.
This also marked the first time since in almost a decade - Nov. 14-21, 2010 - that the Buccaneers won back-to-back games by 14 or more points.
The Broncos (0-3) completed a second straight winless September under head coach Vic Fangio, who donned a face shield a la Andy Reid after getting fined $100,000 for failing to wear a face mask last week.
Barrett, who led the league last year with 19 1/2 sacks in his first season in Tampa, picked up his first sacks of this season in the city where he played from 2014-18 after starring at Colorado State.
His second sack of Jeff Driskel, who started in place of Drew Lock (shoulder), came in the end zone for a safety that pushed the Bucs' lead to 25-10.
Afterward, Barrett performed the signature sack dance of Bradley Chubb, a friendly jab at the 2018 first-round pick whose selection helped Barrett decide to leave Denver after that season.
With his full complement of receivers finally available, Brady looked like the methodical QB he was for two decades in New England, driving the Buccaneers on scoring drives on four of five first-half drives.
Chris Godwin caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in his return from a concussion before leaving in the second half with a hamstring injury and Mike Evans had two 1-yard TD grabs as the Bucs took a 23-10 halftime lead.
And just days after insisting he was in Tampa to serve as ''a blocking tight end,'' Rob Gronkowski caught six passes for 48 yards after getting shut out last week and coming into the game with just two receptions for 11 yards.
Denver special teams coach Tom McMahon, who described his unit's play at Pittsburgh as ''one word: terrible,'' won't need a Thesaurus for this one.
Sam Martin, who fumbled away the snap for a costly safety against the Steelers, was blocked on his first punt Sunday when rookie long snapper Jacob Bobenmoyer didn't rise out of his stance fast enough to block Patrick O'Connor.
O'Connor swept past the snapper to block the pun t, then recovered the ball at the Broncos 10-yard line. Three plays later, Godwin reached over the goal line for Tampa Bay's first score.
After a trio of three-and-outs and a field-goal drive, Driskel suddenly did an imitation of Brady and drove the Broncos 75 yards in eight plays, hitting Tim Patrick from 7 yards with 14 seconds left in the half to pull the Broncos to 23-10.
But Driskel, who fell to 1-8 as a starter in the pros, gave way to Brett Rypien in the fourth quarter with the score 28-10. He completed his first eight passes for 53 yards before Mike Edwards stepped in front of Jerry Jeudy at the goal line for a one-handed interception on fourth-and-1 from the 13.
Bucs' WR Godwin left with a hamstring injury in the second half and CB Sean Murphy-Bunting was ruled out with a groin/hamstring injury.
RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!
In addition to the 5,700 fans that were allowed into Empower Field, the Broncos put more than 1,800 cardboard cutouts of the characters from ''South Park'' in the south stands on Sunday. Cartman, Kenny et. al were masked up and socially distanced just like the real fans in the lower four levels of the Broncos' 77,000-seat stadium.
MARQUEE MATCHUP DENIED
Brady lamented during the week that he wouldn't get to face Von Miller, who is out indefinitely after a freak ankle injury.
''I've played a lot of meaningful games against him and there is nobody that's more of an incredible player than him,'' Brady said, adding that Miller is ''as good of a player as there is on the defensive side of the ball in NFL history. He's just exceptional in every way.''
Buccaneers host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Broncos have a short week with Thursday night game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
Five Hot Plays: Week 8
Carolina Panthers kicker Joey Slye made one field goal and a pair of extra points in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Slye didn't get many opportunities in this one, as Carolina made just one trip to the red zone against a surprisingly resurgent Falcons' defense. There's not much that a kicker can do when he's simply not seeing the opportunities. With that said, Slye may be needed more in Week 9 against Kansas City, as the Panthers will probably have to put up a lot of points to win.
The Carolina Panthers Defense had an average day in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Carolina registered two sacks and an interception, holding strong on Atlanta's first two trips to the red zone. However, they couldn't stop the Falcons from marching down the field, ultimately surrendering 25 points to their division rival. At this point, there's nothing to suggest that the Panthers' defense is worthy of streaming for fantasy purposes. Don't even think about starting them in Week 9, as they face the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel enjoyed his most productive game of the season in a losing effort against Atlanta. Samuel caught four of five targets for 31 receiving yards and carried the ball three times for 23 rushing yards. The 24-year-old made a nice run in the red zone to start the scoring for the Panthers, then hauled in a deep pass from Teddy Bridgewater on a flea-flicker. It's Samuel's second straight game with a rushing touchdown. This was an encouraging performance from the former Buckeye, though it's worth noting that he was held under 50 receiving yards for the seventh time in eight games. He'll be a low-end flex at best in Week 9 against the Chiefs.
Carolina Panthers tight end Ian Thomas caught all three targets for 28 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. It was a juicy matchup for Thomas, but he certainly didn't exploit it, as his modest stat-line will support. His three targets were the most he's seen in weeks, though he seemed to surrender some playing time to fellow tight end Chris Manhertz. It's best to avoid Thomas completely until he picks up his production.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore had a quiet game in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons on Thursday Night Football. Moore caught two of six targets for 55 receiving yards, including a huge 42-yard reception on a 3rd-and-17 in the fourth quarter. In a strange turn of events, Moore went without a catch until the final drive of the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the 23-year-old still saw six targets, second on the team to only fellow wideout Robby Anderson. There should be better days ahead for Moore, as he had compiled at least 93 receiving yards in three straight contests coming into this one. He'll get a Week 9 matchup against Kansas City in what could turn out to be a high-scoring affair.
Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis carried the ball 13 times for 66 rushing yards and caught one of two targets for 11 receiving yards in a loss to the Falcons. The 27-year-old disappointed in likely his last ride as the Panthers' lead back, as Christian McCaffrey (ankle) is expected to return in Week 9 against Kansas City. Davis was a PPR machine in McCaffrey's absence, with at least six targets in four games as the starter. He was so impressive at times that it's possible he earned himself a bigger role, though it likely won't amount to much with McCaffrey around to gobble up the majority of the touches. Keep Davis rostered until we find out McCaffrey is back for sure.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage finished Thursday's win with two receptions for 25 yards on three targets. Gage continued to show his inconsistency on Thursday after coming into the game having gotten at least 54 yards in the past two contests. The WR is definitely streaky, which makes him a risky play most weeks. An ankle injury suffered by fellow wideout Calvin Ridley is worth monitoring. If Ridley cannot play next Sunday, Gage's value will surely go up, but it would still be hard to trust him for good production given his lackluster numbers this season.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Robby Anderson hauled in five of eight targets for 48 receiving yards in a 25-17 loss to the Falcons. It could have been a bigger day for the former Jet, as he nearly made a one-handed touchdown grab on a throw from backup P.J. Walker, who came in relief of Teddy Bridgewater for one series. It certainly didn't help Anderson that Bridgewater was under constant pressure the whole night. However, his fantasy managers can take solace in the fact that he's now seen at least eight targets in six of eight contests this season. That sort of volume should keep him in the WR2 mix next week, even in a tough matchup against Kansas City.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had seven receptions for 137 yards on 10 targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. For the past three weeks, the WR has been playing at a tremendous level and has gotten at least seven receptions, nine targets, and 97 yards the past three games. His volume keeps him in the WR1 tier each week.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 15 of 23 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown along with 30 yards rushing on five attempts in a 25-17 loss to Atlanta. Bridgewater left the game after taking a nasty hit in the third quarter, but he was able to return after making it through the league's concussion protocol. The 27-year-old made some nice throws when he was given time, including a beautiful deep ball to Curtis Samuel on a flea-flicker. Unfortunately, he was constantly under pressure, as he was sacked twice and hit six times by the Falcons Defense. A bounce-back could be in the cards next week- Carolina may need to rely on Bridgewater's arm in Week 9 against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley finished with three receptions for 42 yards on four targets in Week 8. The WR went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the game and didn't return. Managers will now have to monitor the status of the WR heading into the Week 9 clash against the Broncos.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst finished with five receptions for 54 yards on seven targets in the Week 8 win over Carolina. Hurst has now seen seven targets in the past two games and has gotten at least 50 yards in four of the past five games. The TE has a decent role in this offense and the latest numbers are backing that up. Hurst should be considered a low-end TE1 each week given his consistency.
Atlanta Falcons running back Brian Hill finished with 11 carries for 55 yards and two receptions for nine yards on Thursday. It was the RB2 of the team who surprisingly led in rush yards, but this was a rare occurrence. Hill doesn't see enough weekly touches to merit good fantasy value going forward.
Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley II finished Thursday night's win with 18 carries for 46 yards and a score. The back still had a decent night despite Brian Hill getting more rushing yards total. Gurley has now had at least 18 carries in the past three games and has three rushing touchdowns in the past two games. With a steady number of carries each week, the RB should remain in the low-end RB1/high-end RB2 tier every week.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan went 21-for-30 and gained 281 yards and one interception in the Thursday night win over the Panthers. It was a rainy game and many players were clearly affected by the conditions. Ryan finished with an average night, which he has sometimes had this season. With a high-powered offense, the QB should remain in the starting tier most weeks, but is most effective in favorable matchups.
Teddy Bridgewater, after being tripped while trying to scramble, took a shot to the head as he fell to the ground against the Falcons. Obviously, the first concern after a hit to the head is a concussion. Bridgewater's head abruptly twisted to the side and he went into the tent shortly thereafter. The Panthers' backup tonight is XFL sweetheart, P.J. Walker.
Calvin Ridley has been ruled out for the Falcons' Week 8 game against the Panthers. He was tackled by a defender and his left foot got caught under the defender. Ridley immediately grabbed his left foot and went to the locker room. His status for Week 9 will now be in question.
New York Jets running back La'Mical Perine has been buried on the depth chart for most of the season. However, head coach Adam Gase mentioned last week that he wants to get Perine more involved. Perine was on the field for 70 percent of the offensive snaps during the Week 7 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He saw 11 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown in the loss. He'll get a decent matchup here against the Kansas City Chiefs who are average against the run this season. Perine could be worth looking at as a desperation option for owners in need of a running back.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (groin) was able to go through limited practice on Thursday. That is actually an upgrade since Crowder sat out of practice the day prior. Crowder has been basically the only bright spot for this team all season long. His absence would doom the Jets chances of doing anything at all on offense versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. Crowder has seen 10 or more targets in each game that he has played in this season. He'll be a reliable WR2, assuming he suits up here.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore has seen a significant role in the backfield this season. The departure of Le'Veon Bell has opened up lead back duties for Gore over the last few weeks. Sadly, the Jets offensive line and team as a whole is horrible this season. Gore has done what he can, but will likely see his role decrease going forward. Head coach Adam Gase wants to see La'Mical Perine more involved in the offense. That means, Gore is going to be a tough option to trust versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8.