For the second week in a row, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat a winning team by 25 or more points when they ran away from the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday for a 45-20 victory. And while the Buccaneers' Week Six dismantling of the previously-undefeated Green Bay Packers was most notable for how thoroughly the defense contained Aaron Rodgers, the win in Vegas was a showcase for Tom Brady and his star-studded offense.
Brady threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns and dropped in some of the prettiest downfield throws you'll ever see. So just give him the Game Ball, right? Heck, he might win NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season, which is kind of like a super-sized Game Ball.
Not so fast. Scotty Miller had his first 100-yard receiving game and he got there in a very entertaining fashion. Chris Godwin did all the Chris Godwin things. Devin White had three sacks, and he's an inside linebacker, we might remind you. Antoine Winfield's amazing rookie season now includes his first interception. And one of these weeks we're going to have to just give it to the offensive line. This was the second straight game with no sacks of Mr. Brady.
View the top photos of Tampa Bay's Week 7 matchup against Las Vegas.
So is Brady a no-brainer this week? Staff Writer Carmen Vitali will get the first shot at that decision. After each Buccaneer victory this season, Carmen and I are nominating one player each for a vote by the fans as to who deserves that week's Game Ball. The fans will then determine the winner in a poll at the bottom of this page, voting either for Carmen's choice, my choice or "other" if they feel neither of us has made the right choice. Since we have decided not to duplicate picks in any given week, we're alternating the order of selection and it's Carmen's turn to go first.
Carmen Vitali: QB Tom Brady
This is a lob from Scott that I'm not going to refuse to dunk here. Not only did Brady throw for 369 yards and four touchdowns, he also rushed for a touchdown, taking a quarterback sneak into the end zone from a yard out for the Bucs' first score of the game. His will to win is absolutely undeniable and it starts as soon as the game kicks off.
However, the most impressive thing I saw him do all game wasn't said rushing touchdown, or the back-shoulder toss to tight Rob Gronkowski in the end zone or even the 33-yard dime to Scotty Miller before the half to swing momentum in the Bucs' favor. It was actually what led to the latter: a textbook two-minute drill executed to perfection. The Bucs got the ball back with 2:19 to play before halftime holding a four-point lead. The Bucs needed just one timeout (and a spike) to go 88 yards down the field in 2:02. Brady led the charge using three of his troops in Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller and Leonard Fournette while giving a masterclass in clock management. He was calm, cool and collected, even when the Bucs had to go for it on fourth down and three (which they obviously converted).
THEN, it ended in one of the best throws you, I or your cousin has ever seen in the 33-yard touchdown to Miller. It gave the Bucs a two-score lead and added to Miller's career-best stat column. That should set you up nicely, Scott, if you were thinking of going with Scooter yourself, for which there's an excellent case.
Scott Smith: ILB Devin White
Thanks, Carmen, but I'm more of a create-my-own-shot kind of guy. Yes, Scotty would be a great pick after his first career 100-yard receiving game, but I have to give the defense some love. Once again, that crew adjusted to some early-game advancement by the opposition and mostly held a very strong offense in check so that Tampa Bay could first catch up and then pull away.
And leading that charge was Devin White, who is really starting to come into his own in his second NFL season. White led the team with 11 tackles, giving him four games of 10-plus tackles this season, just one of the league lead in that category. Even more impressively, he continued to show that he is an excellent blitzer up the middle, with outstanding timing and closing speed. White had all three of the Buccaneers' sacks of Derek Carr on Sunday.
Three sacks?! As far as I can tell from looking at the list of every player in Bucs history who has had a three-sack game, White is the first inside linebacker to do so. White is one of six players in the entire NFL who have had a three-sack game in 2020. The others are Aaron Donald, Aldon Smith, Za'Darius Smith, Calais Campbell and Troy Reeder. Of those, only White and the Rams' Reeder are inside linebackers.
All three of White's sacks helped kill las Vegas drives that had begun to look promising. Early in the second quarter, leading 10-7, the Raiders got two first downs but then White shut down Carr's scramble attempts on second-and-seven, after which Carr threw incomplete on a deep ball on third down. On the Raiders' next drive, White slashed up the middle to drop Carr for a loss of 11, creating a third-and-21 the offense didn't come close to converting. And White's final sack came on the Raiders' last meaningful possession, as he closed quickly on a scrambling Carr and blasted him out of bounds three yards short of converting a fourth-and-one.
(By the way, I'm voting for Brady.)
Now, from those two choices, who do you think should get the Game Ball for Tampa Bay's win in Las Vegas in Week Seven? If you think that neither Carmen nor I nominated the best choice, you can also choose "Other." Vote in the poll below.