A couple of victory formation kneel-downs cost the Buccaneers their fourth 400-yard outing of 2021 on Thursday night in Philadelphia, and had Tom Brady been allowed to throw one more pass he probably would have banked his fourth 300-yard game of the season. But those are rather pedestrian accomplishments at this point. What's becoming clear in the larger picture is that this is the best offense the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have ever had.
It's certainly the best six-game start to a season after Thursday night's 28-22 win in Philadelphia. The Buccaneers are 5-1 for just the fourth time in franchise history, and they've gotten there largely due to a prolific offense. In fact, Tampa Bay has never scored this many points through the first six games of a season before, and they've only had more yards at this point in one other campaign.
Most Total Net Yards, Buccaneers History, First Six Games of a Season
1. 2021: 195
2. 2020: 177
3. 2019: 173
4. 2018: 167
5. 2000: 150
Most Total Net Yards, Buccaneers History, First Six Games of a Season
1. 2018: 2,697
2. 2021: 2,556
3. 2017: 2,355
4. 2019: 2,206
6. 2003: 2,203
Meanwhile, Brady, at the tender age of 44, might very well be launching the single best season by a quarterback in the Bucs' 46-year history. (Yes, Brady was born fewer than 11 months after the Buccaneers played their very first game.) He already has 2,064 passing yards and 17 TD tosses, which are easily the most through six games in the franchise ledger.
Most Passing Yards Through Six Games, Buccaneers History
Most Touchdown Passes Through Six Games, Buccaneers History
Brady's numbers stand out in terms of Buccaneers history, but they can also be favorably compared to the rest of his unprecedented and unparalleled career, which began with 20 seasons as a New England Patriots. Brady is on pace for 5,848 passing yards and 48 touchdown passes and – acknowledging that these projections include a 17th game for the first time – that would definitely qualify as one of his best campaigns yet.
Tom Brady, Most Single-Season Passing Yards Compared to 2021 Projection
1. 2021 Projection: 5,848
2. 2011 Season: 5,235
3. 2012 Season: 4,827
4. 2007 Season: 4,806
5. 2015 Season: 4,770
Tom Brady, Most Single-Season Touchdown Passes Compared to 2021 Projection
1. 2007 Season: 50
2. 2021 Projection: 48
3. 2020 Season: 40
4. 2011 Season: 39
5t. 2015 Season: 36
5t. 2010 Season: 36
Even if you project Brady's current numbers to just 16 games, they still compare very favorable to his best seasons: 5,504 yards and 45 touchdowns. That would rank second on both of the above lists.
Brady was intercepted by Eagles safety Anthony Harris shortly before halftime on Thursday night, on his 25th pass of the night. That snapped his team-record streak of consecutive passes without an interception, but he still beat the previous mark (his own record) by a significant margin.
Most Consecutive Passes Without an Interception, Buccaneers History
One week after recording 33 first downs against Miami – a single-game team record in games that did not go into overtime – the Buccaneers moved the sticks 27 more times in Thursday's win over Philadelphia. That gave Tampa Bay 154 first downs through six games. "Broken record" alert – that's also the most first downs the team has ever had through the first six tilts of any season. Less surprisingly, it's also the most passing first downs at this point of a season.
Most First Downs Through Six Games, Buccaneers History
1. 2021: 154
2. 2018: 152
3. 2017: 136
4. 2016: 133
5. 2019: 130
Most Passing First Downs Through Six Games, Buccaneers History
1. 2021: 115
2. 2018: 111
3. 2017: 102
4. 2019: 88
5. 2016: 83
Brady had two touchdown passes in Thursday's win over the Eagles, one each to wide receiver Antonio Brown and tight end O.J. Howard. Brown's 23-yard score in the first quarter was the 83rd of his career in the regular season. Brown was drafted by Pittsburgh in the sixth round in 2010, and since that time only one player has caught more touchdown passes (and it happens to be his current teammate). Brown broke a tie with tight end Jimmy Graham on that list on Thursday.
Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL, 2010-2021
Brown led the Bucs with nine receptions for 93 yards against the Eagles, including a key 27-yarder on third down on the game's final drive. That kept his streak of consecutive games with at least one catch alive; it is the longest active one in the NFL.
Most Consecutive Games Played with a Reception, Active Streak, NFL
1. Antonio Brown, Buccaneers…142
2t. DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals…132
2t. Julio Jones, Titans…130
Despite missing the Buccaneers' Week Three game against the Rams, Brown now has 418 receiving yards on the season, which is just two behind team leader Mike Evans. Chris Godwin is just behind at 409. That gives the Buccaneers three players with more than 400 passing yards after the first six weeks of the season. No other team can match that.
Godwin did not score in Thursday's game but did have five catches for 43 yards. That moved him up on both the all-time catches and yards lists in franchise history; he is now in the top 10 in both. On Thursday, he passed Joey Galloway on the yardage list and Vincent Jackson on the receptions list.
Most Receiving Yards, Buccaneers History
Most Receptions, Buccaneers History
|4.||Warrick Dunn||1997-2001; 08||306|
Tampa Bay's defense also had a lot to do with securing the team's fifth win of the season, allowing season lows in total yards (213), first downs (16) and net passing yards (113). The Buccaneers also allowed the Eagles to convert only three of 10 third downs, marking the third straight week they have held an opponent to a third-down conversion rate of 30% or worse. Only Baltimore has matched that feat this season, doing the same from Weeks 2-4.
Cornerback Jamel Dean was a big part of that effort to contain Jalen Hurts and the Eagles' passing attack. He secured the Bucs' one interception of the night in the fourth quarter and overall broke up four passes. Games with four or more passes defensed by an individual aren't particularly common in the NFL…unless you're Jamel Dean. Since he arrived in Tampa as a third-round draft pick in 2019, Dean has accomplished that feat five times, more than double anybody else in the league.
Most Games with 4-Plus Passes Defensed, NFL, 2019-21
Meanwhile, Vita Vea led the Bucs' aggressive pass rush on Thursday night with one sack, which was actually the sum of two half-sacks split with Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett respectively. Both Pierre-Paul and Barrett edged closer to Brad Culpepper on the franchise's all-time list of sack leaders.
Most Sacks, Buccaneers History
|Lee Roy Selmon||1976-84||78.5|
|Chidi Ahanotu||1993-2000; 04||34.5|
Each team got one interception on Thursday night and neither team fumbled, so the turnover ratio at the end was even. However, the Buccaneers scored a touchdown on the drive created by Dean's interception while the Eagles punted after Harris's pick. The Buccaneers thus had the advantage in points off turnovers over the Eagles, 7-0. This is nothing new. Since the arrival of Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles in 2019, the Buccaneers have scored more points off of takeaways than any other team in the NFL.
Most Points Off Takeaways, NFL, 2019-2021
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 272
2. Baltimore Ravens: 240
3. Pittsburgh Steelers: 219
4. Green Bay Packers: 200
5. New Orleans Saints: 19