It's usually easier to start our weekly Data Crunch on offense, given the extremely prolific numbers Tom Brady and company have been putting up over the past two seasons. This week, however, we're going to open with some defensive notes, because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense has just accomplished a feat that is very rare in franchise history…and in the NFL overall.
Specifically, the Buccaneers have now posted two consecutive games in which they did not allow a single touchdown. This is just the third time in team history that has happened, and the first time in close to two decades.
Consecutive Games Without Allowing a Touchdown, Buccaneers History
- 2 games…Oct. 6-13, 2002: 20-6 at Atlanta, 17-3 vs. Cleveland
- 3 games…Dec. 29, 2002 – Sept. 14, 2003: 15-0 at Chicago, 17-0 at Philadelphia, 9-12 vs. Carolina
- 2 games…Dec. 19-26, 2021: 0-9 vs. New Orleans, 32-6 at Carolina
Only one other team has accomplished this feat in 2021 – the Saints, with their shutout in Tampa in Week 15 and a 30-9 road win over the Jets the previous weekend. There have only been nine occasions of a team posting consecutive games without a touchdown allowed over the last five seasons combined.
One key factor in the Bucs' keeping their end zone from being invaded was the suffocating pressure applied by the front seven. Tampa Bay finished the game with a season-best seven sacks, their highest single-game sack total since 2013. That marks one of just four times this season that an NFL defense has registered seven or more sacks in a game, and the first time it's been done by a road team.
Most Sacks, Single Game, NFL, 2021
|Tampa Bay||at Carolina||12/26/21||7|
|N.Y. Jets||at Tennessee||10/3/21||7|
This is just the 12th time the Buccaneers have recorded seven or more sacks in a game, and the first since they had seven against Buffalo on Dec. 8, 2013. The team record is 10, against Baltimore on Sept. 9, 1979; the Bucs also had a nine-sack outing at Philadelphia on Sept. 19, 1999 and an eight-sack outburst vs. Green Bay on Dec. 7, 1998.
Defensive lineman Will Gholston led the way with a career-best 2.5 sacks, the most by any Buccaneer in a game this season. Gholston is the first Tampa Bay interior defensive lineman with at least 2.5 sacks in a game since Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Sapp had 3.0 at Detroit on Sept. 17, 2000. Gholston's performance on Sunday marks just the ninth time in team history that an interior defensive lineman has had 2.5 or more sacks in a game, including the postseason and the seasons before the sack became an official stat in 1982.
Most Sacks in a Game, Interior Defensive Linemen, Buccaneers History
|Gerald McCoy||vs. Atlanta||11/17/2013||3.0|
|Warren Sapp||at Detroit||9/17/00||3.0|
|Warren Sapp||at Philadelphia||9/19/99||3.0|
|Brad Culpepper||vs. Atlanta||11/9/97||3.0|
|Brad Culpepper||vs. Arizona||9/8/97||3.0|
|Dave Pear||at San Francisco||10/10/78||3.0|
|Will Gholston||at Carolina||12/26/21||2.5|
|Anthony McFarland||at Detroit||9/17/00||2.5|
Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett registered one of the Bucs' seven sacks as well before leaving the game just before halftime with a knee injury. In one half of play he had the sack, four tackles, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit and two passes defensed. Barrett's sack gave him 10 on the season as he hit double digits in that category for the second time in three seasons as a Buccaneer. He is now one of just four players in team history with multiple double-digit sack seasons, joining Simeon Rice (5), Lee Roy Selmon (4) and Sapp (3).
Barrett has 37.5 sacks in 46 games since signing with the Buccaneers in 2019. That's the third-most in the NFL in that span.
NFL Sack Leaders, 2019-21
The Buccaneers' seven sacks on Sunday pushed their season total to 44.0, which is tied for the most in the NFL this season.
NFL Team Sack Leaders, 2021
1t. Tampa Bay…44
4t. L.A. Rams…42
With two games to go, the 2021 Buccaneers have tied for the fifth-most sacks in a single season in franchise history.
Most Sacks, Team, Single Season, Buccaneers History
And, yes, there were some notable exploits by the Buccaneers' offense in Week 16, as usual. Wide receiver Antonio Brown returned from an eight-game absence to immediately post his third 100-yard game of the season, grabbing 10 passes for 101 yards. Brown, who holds the NFL's longest active streak with at least one catch in each of the last 143 games in which he's played, has four 100-yard games as a Buccaneer and 46 in his career. Only one player has recorded more 100-yard receiving games since Brown was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2010.
Most 100-Yard Receiving Games, NFL, 2010-21
|Brandon Marshall||Six teams*||36|
(* Marshall played for the Broncos, Dolphins, Bears, Jets, Giants and Seahawks.)
Brown's reception total on Sunday marked the 23rd time in his career that he has caught 10 or more passes in a game. That's the most in the NFL in that span.
Most 100-Yard Receiving Games, NFL, 2010-21
Brown was the favored target for Tom Brady on Sunday but his lone touchdown pass on the day went to tight end Cameron Brate. Brate's four-yard score in the second quarter was the 32nd of his career, moving him past Kevin House on the Bucs' all-time lists for touchdown receptions and overall touchdowns scored.
Most Total Touchdowns, Buccaneers History
|Warrick Dunn||RB||1997-2001; 08||28|
Most Touchdown Receptions, Buccaneers History
Of Brate's 32 touchdown catches, 29 have come since the start of the 2016 season. That's tied for the fifth most by a tight end in the NFL in that span.
Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL, Tight Ends, 2016-21
|Jared Cook||Six teams*||29|
(* Cook has played for the Titans, Rams, Packers, Raiders, Saints and Chargers.)
Brady completed 18 of his 30 passes against the Panthers for 232 yards, that one touchdown and no interceptions. Brady continues to lead the NFL in both touchdown passes and passing yards.
2021 NFL Leaders in Touchdown Passes
2021 NFL Leaders in Passing Yardage
Running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn and wide receiver Cyril Grayson both saw a much higher dose of playtime on Sunday with the absences of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette, and the two combined to post the team's two longest plays from scrimmage in the game. In fact, Vaughn turned in the longest run of the year for the Buccaneers while Grayson tied for the longest reception of the season.
Buccaneers' Longest Runs, 2021
|1. Ke'Shawn Vaughn, 55t, at Carolina, 12/26|
|2. Leonard Fournette, 47t, vs. Buffalo, 12/12|
|3. Ronald Jones, 30, vs. New Orleans, 12/19/21|
|4. Giovani Bernard, 28, at New Orleans, 10/31|
|5. Leonard Fournette, 24, at New England, 10/3|
Buccaneers Longest Receptions, 2021
|1t. Cyril Grayson, 62, at Carolina, 12/26|
|1t. Antonio Brown, 62t, vs. Miami, 10/10|
|3. Breshad Perriman, 58t, vs. Buffalo, 12/12|
|4. Cyril Grayson, 50t, at New Orleans, 10/31|
|5. Antonio Brown, 47t, vs. Dallas, 9/9|