Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Rapid Reaction: Buccaneers 38, Chargers 31

The Buccaneers take their second-straight victory at home in front of fans for the first time.


The Los Angeles Chargers won the toss to start the Buccaneers' second home game of the season and their first with fans. LA elected to defer so it was Buccaneers' ball first.

With the best first-quarter point differential in the league at +31, the Bucs again put together a well-balanced drive to start the game. It spanned 10 plays, incorporating running back Ronald Jones II, wide receiver Mike Evans and ended with a touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady to tight end Cameron Brate for the score. It was Brate's first catch and first touchdown reception of the season. The Bucs took the early 7-0 lead with 10:00 left in the opening quarter.

The Chargers wasted no time answering right back. After just over a minute and a half, rookie quarterback Justin Herbert hit wide receiver Tyron Johnson for a 53-yard touchdown pass and Los Angeles evened the score.

Tampa Bay got into Los Angeles territory, but Brady was then picked off by cornerback Michael Davis, who returned the ball for the touchdown. It gave the Chargers a 14-7 lead after the good extra point with 3:55 left to play in the first quarter.

The Buccaneers forced a three-and-out from the Charger offense and in the process knocked running back Austin Ekeler out of the game with an injury. The Tampa Bay offense took over but stalled, not able to get anything going to cut the lead.

Punter Bradley Pinion pinned the Chargers inside their own 10-yard line where they were subsequently hit with a penalty and had to start from their own four-yard-line right at the end of the first quarter.

The Tampa Bay defense was issued a late-hit penalty on third down for a hit by safety Jordan Whitehead on Herbert which gave the Chargers a first and 10 and the 29-yard-line. It came a split second after Herbert had stepped out of bounds but kept the drive going for Los Angeles. The Chargers were helped by another questionable defensive pass interference call assigned to cornerback Carlton Davis. The next drive the Bucs had them at third and 11 but a screen to running back Josh Kelly converted it to get LA knocking on the door of the red zone. Herbert then hit tight end Donald Parham on the next play for the touchdown to give the Chargers a 21-7 lead with 8:50 left in the half.

The Bucs were able to get down the field and were stopped just outside the Chargers' red zone. Helped by a failed challenge by Los Angeles, they would settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt. It was no good and the score remained 21-7 with 4:54 to go before halftime.

Tampa Bay stopped the Chargers just past midfield but then Los Angeles decided to go for a 53-yard field goal. The kick was good and the Chargers took a 24-7 lead with 1:37 left in the half.

The Buccaneers couldn't get anything going, even after getting helped by an unnecessary roughness call, giving them a fresh set of downs at midfield. Evans drew his own a few plays later and the Bucs were forced to punt with 47 seconds left.

The very first play for LA, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh forced a fumble that was recovered by inside linebacker Devin White. It gave the Bucs first and goal at the six-yard line. A couple tries later, Brady hit Evans in the back of the end zone for the score. It gave Evans a receiving touchdown in five straight games, marking a new franchise record. The Bucs went into the half trailing 24-14.

The Bucs' defense came out of halftime swinging, forcing a three-and-out behind a big third-down sack from safety Jordan Whitehead. It was his second sack in as many games and gave the Tampa Bay offense their first shot of the second half.

Tampa Bay answered with a nice 69-yard yard, eight-play drive that ended in a 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end O.J. Howard. It cut the Los Angeles lead to 24-21 with 8:22 remaining in the third quarter.

The Chargers got into Buccaneer territory, even converting a fourth down and one, on their next series but were backed up by an illegal chop block penalty. The Chargers ended up facing a third and 22 situation that they would not convert. Instead, they brought out the field goal unit and kicker Michael Badgley missed it, leaving the score 24-21 with 1:40 to go in the third quarter.

Things would change in a hurry on the Bucs' next drive. Brady hit Miller for 44 yards to get the Bucs into scoring range. He followed it up one play later with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Miller to give the Bucs their first lead since the beginning of the game. Tampa Bay went up 28-24 with 52 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Chargers struck back with a big play of their own. Herbert hit wide receiver Jaylon Guyton for a 72-yard touchdown pass on third down. It gave Los Angeles back their lead, going up 31-28 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Tampa Bay hit back, even after Evans got hit with an offensive pass interference penalty that backed the Bucs up to a first and 20. On the next play, Evans made up for it, making an impossible 47-yard catch to set the Bucs up with a goal-to-go situation. With Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy and Kenjon Barner out, it was rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn that caught the go-ahead touchdown from Brady. It gave Tampa Bay back their lead, 35-31 with 11:05 left in the fourth quarter.

The Buccaneer defense went to work on the next drive, forcing another three-and-out helped by a sack on Herbert from outside linebacker Shaq Barrett and a mid-air third-down tackle by inside linebacker Lavonte David.

Tampa Bay got the ball back with 8:45 and went to work on depleting the time left. They were helped into the red zone by a vintage Rob Gronkowski catch in which he went up for the 50-50 ball and came up with it to the raucous cheers of the crowd. After taking the clock all the way down to 2:44, the Bucs ended up attempting a 26-yard field goal. The kick was good and Tampa Bay went up by a full score, 38-31, with 2:40 left to play in the game.

Los Angeles' next drive was then cut short as cornerback Carlton Davis picked off Herbert, to give the ball back to Tampa Bay with 2:22 left in the game. The Chargers burned their last timeout

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