The New Orleans Saints scored 25 unanswered points to erase a 14-3 deficit and defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 28-14, on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Before that rally, the Bucs had built their 11-point lead through the always fruitful connection between quarterback Jameis Winston and tight end Cam Brate.
Winston finished a 75-yard game-opening drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Brate near the front right pylon on third-and-nine. Later, after an Adarius Taylor interception gave the Buccaneers a scoring opportunity just before halftime, Winston fired another third-down scoring pass to the fourth-year tight end, this one in the back middle of the end zone from the one-yard line.
Those two scores gave Brate six touchdowns on the season and emphasized once again the egalitarian nature of Tampa Bay's offense in 2018. Brate became the seventh different Buccaneer player to score at least five touchdowns this season, and that is a feat few NFL teams have ever accomplished. In fact, the 2018 Bucs are just the fifth team to feature seven different players with five or more touchdowns each.
Teams with Seven Different Players with 5+ Touchdowns in the Same Season, NFL History
· 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TE Cam Brate (6), WR Mike Evans (6), RB Peyton Barber (5), WR Chris Godwin (5), TE O.J. Howard (5), WR Adam Humphries (5), WR DeSean Jackson (5)
· 2012 New England Patriots: RB Stevan Ridley (12), TE Rob Gronkowski (11), RB Danny Woodhead (7), WR Wes Welker (6), WR Julian Edelman (5), TE Aaron Hernandez (5), WR Brandon Lloyd (5)
· 2011 New Orleans Saints: TE Jimmy Graham (11), RB Darren Sproles (10), WR Lance Moore (8), WR Marques Colston (8), WR Robert Meachem (6), RB Pierre Thomas (6), RB Mark Ingram (5)
· 2010 New England Patriots: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (13), TE Rob Gronkowski (10), WR Wes Welker (7), TE Aaron Hernandez (6), RB Danny Woodhead (6), WR Deion Branch (5), WR Brandon Tate (5)
· 1983 Dallas Cowboys: RB Tony Dorsett (9), FB Ron Springs (8), WR Tony Hill (7), TE Doug Cosbie (6), RB Timmy Newsome (6), WR Drew Pearson (5), QB Danny White (5)
Brate has now caught six or more touchdown passes in each of the last three seasons. He is one of only five players in the NFL who can currently make that claim, and the only tight end in the group.
NFL Players with 6+ Touchdown Receptions Each of the Last Three Seasons, NFL
Brate has a total of 20 touchdown receptions since the start of 2016, when he began playing regularly. That is second among all NFL tight ends in that span. He has scored those 20 touchdowns on 130 receptions, giving him a much higher percentage of TD grabs among his overall catches than any of the other tight ends in the top six.
Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL Tight Ends, 2016-18
Brate also scored three touchdowns in 23 catches as a first-year player in 2015, giving him a total of 23 in his career. His two TDs against New Orleans on Sunday pulled him into a tie for eighth place in that category in Buccaneers history.
Most Career Touchdown Receptions, Buccaneers History
Brate has scored on 14.94% of his career receptions, the second-highest rate in franchise history among all players with at least 50 catches. The only player higher than him on the list is his current teammate and fellow tight end, O.J. Howard (now on injured reserve).
Highest Rate of Touchdowns Among Career Receptions, Buccaneers History (Min. 50 Receptions)
All but three of Brate's 23 career touchdown catches have been on passes thrown by Winston. Winston has now thrown exactly 20 touchdown passes to both Brate and Evans, which has both of those pairs on the verge of becoming the most prolific scoring duos in team history. The Winston-Brate and Winston-Evans connections are already tied for third-most touchdown passes in Buc annals. Winston and Brate have already combined for more touchdowns than any other QB-TE duo in team history.
Buccaneer Duos with the Most Career Touchdown Connections
(* Seasons in which the two players' Buccaneer careers overlapped.)
By tossing both of those scoring aerials in Brate's direction, Winston extended his team record for touchdown passes to 83. He has 14 on the season in eight games and six starts. Fellow quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown 17 touchdown passes this year in eight games and seven starts. Together, Winston and Fitzpatrick have accounted for 31 touchdown tosses, which is a new single-season franchise record for the Buccaneers as a team.
Most Touchdown Passes, Buccaneers Team, Single Season
(All players who threw a touchdown pass in that season are listed.)
With three games to go, the Buccaneers and their passing attack, which is ranked first in the NFL at 331.4 net yards per game, are close to breaking the franchise single-season record in that category, as well. Tampa Bay is likely to get that record next Sunday in Baltimore, as they go into their Week 15 contest needing just 29 more yards to get there.
Most Net Passing Yards, Buccaneers Team, Single Season
(All players who recorded passing yards in that season are listed, in descending order of most gross yards.)
Finally, Mike Evans continues to be on pace to break the Buccaneers' single-season record for receiving yards after catching four passes for 86 yards against the Saints. That improved his total through 13 games to 1,207 yards, which is his own second-best mark after a 1,321-yard campaign in 2016. Evans moved just past his own 2015 total to take over eighth place on the team's all-time single-season receiving yardage list. If he maintains his current pace of 92.85 yards per game he will break Mark Carrier's record, which has stood for nearly three decades.
Most Receiving Yards, Single Season, Buccaneers History