One of the most surprising and encouraging numbers on the final stat sheet from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday was a zero. That's how many infractions the Buccaneers committed in the game, marking just the second time in franchise history that the team has made it through a whole game without incurring a single accepted penalty. The other occasion was 37 years ago, against Detroit on Dec. 18, 1983.
Given that Tampa Bay came into their Week Six game tied for the NFL "lead" with 42 penalties, playing a clean game with no flags was a major step in the right direction. If that was the only zero of note, it would still be worth celebration. As it turned out, however, the Buccaneers had two other significant goose-eggs to pair with that one, creating an accomplishment achieved by no other NFL team in more than two decades.
In addition to playing a penalty-free game, the Buccaneers also did not allow a single sack of quarterback Tom Brady and did not turn the ball over once. That made for the cleanest overall game any NFL team has played since 1999. In fact, it marked just the third time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that any team in the league had played an entire game without committing a penalty or a turnover and without allowing a sack.
NFL Games with Zero Turnovers, Zero Penalties, Zero Sacks, Since 1970
1. Minnesota at L.A. Rams, Nov. 19, 1972, Win 45-41
2. Indianapolis at Cleveland, Dec. 26, 1999, Win 29-28
3. Tampa Bay vs. Green Bay, Oct. 18, 2020, Win 38-10
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay's defense made sure Green Bay did not have anywhere near as clean of an outing on Sunday. The Buccaneers sacked Aaron Rodgers four times (and replacement Tim Boyle once more) and gave him his first two interceptions of the season, one returned for a touchdown by Jamel Dean early in the second quarter. The Buccaneers' defense has recorded five or more sacks in three of their six games so far and are now tied for second in the NFL in that category. (Totals are prior to the two Monday night games.)
Most Sacks, Team, 2020
The Buccaneers' defense is also tied for the second-most interceptions in the NFL so far. Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh are the only two teams to rank in the top five in both categories.
Most Interceptions, Team, 2020
Cornerback Carlton Davis did not add to his team-leading total of three interceptions during Sunday's game, although he did deflect the pass that ended up in Edwards hands on his second-quarter pick. That was just one of four passes defensed on the day for Davis, including one he nearly intercepted on a very deep pass in the second quarter.
Davis is tied with the Giants' James Bradberry for the NFL lead in passes defensed in 2020, with 10. Since the start of the 2019 season, Davis has the most passes defensed in the league. The player closest to him on that list is his teammate, Jamel Dean.
Most Passes Defensed, NFL, 2019-20
Jason Pierre-Paul recorded the last of the Buccaneers' five sacks on Green Bay's final offensive snap, as he took down Boyle and forced a fumble that the quarterback recovered. Earlier in the game he and Lavonte David had combined on a sack of Rodgers. Pierre-Paul's total of 1.5 sacks gave him 5.5 on the season, 85.0 in his career and 26.5 since joining the Buccaneers in a trade with the Giants in 2018. Pierre-Paul currently ranks third in the NFL in sacks.
Most Sacks, Individual, 2020
Pierre-Paul's latest sack binge also moved him into the top 10 in Buccaneers history in that category. He is now tied with Broderick Thomas for ninth on that list.
Most Sacks, Buccaneers History
|Lee Roy Selmon||1976-84||121||78.5|
|Chidi Ahanotu||1993-2000, 2004||121||34.5|
Two of Pierre-Paul's teammates could join him on that top-10 list at some point this season, as David now has 24.0 sacks in his career and Shaquil Barrett has 22.5 since joining the Bucs last year.
The Buccaneers' run defense was solid against Green Bay, too, holding a rushing attack that had been averaging more than 150 yards a game to just 94 on Sunday. That marked the 12th straight opponent the Buccaneers have held below 100 rushing yards, extending the franchise record. Tampa Bay's streak is the third longest since the turn of the millennium.
Most Consecutive Games Holding Opponents Below 100 Rushing Yards, 2000-20
|Team||Cons. Games||Start Date||End Date|
|three tied with||10|
(* Active streak.)
Dean's pick-six early in the second quarter began a run of 38 unanswered points, the second-largest such run in a game in team history. The Buccaneers blanked the Bears, 41-0, on opening day in 2000, which obviously included 41 unanswered points. Of those 38 points, 28 came in the second quarter as Tom Brady and the Bucs' offense recorded three straight touchdown drives. That marked the most points Tampa Bay has ever scored in a single quarter.
Most Points in a Single Quarter, Buccaneers History
Brady finished two of those three straight touchdown drives off with touchdown passes, one to rookie wide receiver Tyler Johnson and one to veteran tight end Rob Gronkowski. Johnson's seven-yard score was the first of his NFL career, but that was definitely not the case for Gronkowski. Despite not playing in 2019, Gronkowski has the most touchdown receptions in the NFL since he entered the league with New England in 2010.
Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL, 2010-20
|Jimmy Graham||4 teams*||78|
(* Graham has played for the Saints, Seahawks, Packers and Bears.)
Of those 80 regular-season touchdowns for Gronkowski, 79 were thrown by Brady; the two were teammates in New England from 2010-18, as well. On Sunday, Brady and Gronkowski tied a former pair of legendary Miami Dolphins teammates as the fourth-most prolific scoring duo in NFL history.
Most Touchdown Passes Between Two Teammates, NFL History
|Peyton Manning||Marvin Harrison||Colts||112|
|Philip Rivers||Antonio Gates||Chargers||89|
|Steve Young||Jerry Rice||49ers||85|
|Tom Brady||Rob Gronkowski||Buccaneers/Patriots||79|
|Dan Marino||Mark Clayton||Dolphins||79|
Brady's two touchdown passes in the game increased his season total to 14, which is tied with Buffalo's Josh Allen for the second-most in the NFL through the first six weeks of 2020. That's also the most touchdown passes any Buccaneer quarterback has ever thrown through the first six games of a season.
The Buccaneers other two touchdowns in the game were scored by running back Ronald Jones on a two-yard run in the second quarter and a one-yard plunge in the third period. It marked the first multiple-touchdown game of his NFL career. Jones also set a career high with 113 yards on 23 carries, giving him three consecutive 100-yard rushing performances. He is just the fourth running back in franchise history to rush for 100-plus yards in three straight outings.
Most Consecutive 100-Yard Rushing Games, Buccaneers History