Tagged in: buccaneers

Bucs beat Panthers 41-17, earn No. 2 playoff seeding in NFC

Once the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took care of their own business, the defending Super Bowl champions permitted themselves to become scoreboard watchers.

Sunday’s 41-17 rout of the Carolina Panthers set a franchise record for regular-season victories, and the win — coupled with the Rams losing to the 49ers in overtime — also gave the Bucs (13-4) the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC.

Tampa Bay will host Philadelphia in the wild-card round next week. Earning the No. 2 seed ensures a second home game in two weeks if the Bucs beat the Eagles.

Tom Brady’s not looking ahead, though.

“It just felt good to win today. Whatever happened with other teams, you can’t ever control any of those things. Even for the next game. … you’re worrying about two games from now. I’m not worried about two games from now, I’m worried about one game from now, which is the Eagles,” Brady said.

“I don’t care if the Rams would’ve won … that’s alright, we’ve still got the Eagles and that’s going to be the biggest game of our season,” Brady added.

“If we win, whoever we play, wherever we play, we’re still going, and that’s what we want to do.” Brady topped 5,000 yards passing for the second time in his career, joining Drew Brees as the only players in NFL history with multiple 5,000-yard seasons.

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“We had to do what we had to do,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had seven receptions for 137 yards.

“That’s what really matters,” Gronkowski added. “We did what we had to do, and the rest took care of itself.”

Brady completed 29 of 37 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns before taking the last half of the fourth quarter off, finishing with a career-best 5,316 yards passing and a Bucs single-season record 43 TD passes for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Mike Evans caught two of Brady’s TD passes, giving him a club-record 14 scoring receptions this year.

He also became the first player in NFL history to start a career with eight consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving.

Tampa Bay broke the club record for victories in a regular season set in 2002, when the Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl for the first time.

Carolina (5-12) finished on a seven-game losing streak that leaves coach Matt Rhule’s future in question. The Panthers are 10-23 in two seasons under the former Temple and Baylor coach, who signed a seven-year contract to move to the NFL in 2020.

The Panthers wasted a chance to go up by double digits, turning the ball over on downs at the Tampa Bay 1 before the Brady turned the game around with an eight-play, 92-yard touchdown drive in the final minute of the first half.

Completions of 37 yards to Evans, 19 yards to Gronkowski and 24 yards to Breshad Perriman helped Brady move into position to give his team a 10-7 halftime lead with a 1-yard TD pass to Le’Veon Bell.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn’s 2-yard TD run early in the third quarter built the lead to 17-7. Evans caught TD passes of 3 and 20 yards, and receiver Scotty Miller scored on a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Bucs.

Darnold completed 29 of 42 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Panthers, who fell to 0-4 against Tampa Bay under Rhule and have been outscored 150-63 by their NFC South rival in those matches.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown suspended 3 games for COVID-19 violation

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been suspended three games for violating the NFL-NFLPA COVID-19 protocols, the league revealed Thursday.

The league and players’ union found that Brown was among three players who misrepresented their vaccination statuses. A former personal chef of Brown’s stated earlier this month that the wide receiver had obtained a fake COVID-19 vaccination card over the summer.

Also suspended for three games were Buccaneers backup safety Mike Edwards and free-agent wide receiver John Franklin III, whom Tampa Bay waived in August. All three players accepted their discipline and will not appeal, according to the NFL.

Brown’s and Edwards’ suspensions are without pay. Both will be eligible to return to the Buccaneers’ lineup for the team’s Dec. 26 game versus the Carolina Panthers. The NFL and NFLPA negotiated the length of the suspension ahead of Thursday’s announcement, sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. All three players are now vaccinated and admitted wrongdoing to the league in the investigative process, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

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“The NFL-NFLPA jointly reinforce their commitment and further emphasize the importance of strict adherence to the protocols to protect the well-being of everyone associated with the NFL,” the league and players’ union said in a statement.

The league’s investigation found that Brown brought a fake vaccination card with him to training camp, but shortly after he arrived someone told him having one could get him in trouble, so he made the decision to get vaccinated, sources told Graziano.

Brown’s attorney, Sean Burstyn, said in a statement that Brown “continues to support the vaccine for any person for whom it is appropriate.”

“The NFL made its determination and, instead of going through the drawn out and distracting process of challenging the outcome, Mr. Brown wrapped this up promptly and he will make the most of this time by treating his ankle injury,” Burstyn said. “Mr. Brown will be motivated, well rested, and in the best shape of his life when he returns in week 16.”

Brown was not expected to play in the next two games due to an ankle and heel injury that has kept him out since Week 7, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Wednesday.

Chef Steven Ruiz stated earlier this month that Brown had his girlfriend, model Cydney Moreau, reach out to him over the summer to get a fake vaccination card. After Ruiz was unable to get a fake card for Brown, he said that a few weeks later the wide receiver showed him ones he had for himself and Moreau that Brown said he had purchased.

Ruiz told ESPN that Brown had obtained his fake vaccine card from a Buccaneers teammate. Ruiz declined to name the other player.

Burstyn had denied that Brown obtained a fake vaccine card.

A day after Ruiz’s initial allegation, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said the team did its “due diligence” in vetting player’s vaccine cards, adding, “I really don’t think it’s a story.”

“We appreciate the League’s timely handling of this matter and recognize the importance of the health and safety protocols that have been established. We will continue to implement all league COVID-19 protocols,” the Buccaneers said in a statement Thursday.

While Brown did not publicly discuss his vaccination status, Edwards wore a mask when he met with reporters at the starting of training camp, which is required for players who are unvaccinated. Asked about his vaccination status, Edwards said at the time, “I don’t really want to talk about vaccinations really. It is what it is. I don’t really want to get into that.”

Asked whether he would change his mind, Edwards stated, “I don’t know. We’ll see.” After that, Edwards did not wear a mask when speaking with reporters.

Edwards, who has lined up at safety and nickelback, forced a fumble in last week’s win over the Indianapolis Colts and leads the team with three interceptions.

He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 2 after recording two pick-sixes against the Atlanta Falcons.

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New York Giants fire offensive coordinator Jason Garrett

The New York Giants have fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after he had less than two years on the job, the team revealed Tuesday.

The move comes as a result of continuing offensive struggles for the Giants (3-7) and follows their 30-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.

“We made a decision to move on from Jason Garrett as the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants,” coach Joe Judge said.

“Look, I have a lot of respect for Jason as a person, as a coach. He’s been a tremendous asset for me as a young head coach. He’s helped our development here. He’s built very strong relationships in the building with the players, along with other support staff members. He’s done a good job putting the team first. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for everything he’s done for us.”

Judge stated this “is not a snap decision” after Monday night, acknowledging, “I don’t think there’s ever an ideal time to make a change like this in a season.” The Giants are on a short week after playing on Monday night. They were coming off a bye.

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Judge said the Giants will use a collaborative in-house effort to fill Garrett’s role.

A source told ESPN that Freddie Kitchens is expected to be involved in the playcalling. Judge declined to name a playcaller publicly and implied that he could perhaps be involved.

“Everything is on the table,” he said.

Garrett’s offense scored the fewest touchdowns of any team since the begining of last season. The Giants hired him in January 2020 after he had a long stint as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

It had been seven years since Garrett had called plays before returning to New York. He never hit his stride with the Giants, despite a strong relationship with quarterback Daniel Jones.

The sudden midseason ending was “certainly disappointing,” Garrett said in a statement in which he also expressed his gratitude to the Mara and Tisch families.

“One of the things that motivated me to accept this position was the opportunity to help rebuild the Giants into a contending team,” he added. “We knew there would be many challenges. My expectations for our offense were much greater than what our results have been, and I accept full responsibility for that.”

The Giants have averaged 18.9 points per game this campaign, ranking 25th in the NFL on offense. In 2020, Garrett’s first season, the Giants were 31st in the NFL at 17.5 points per game.

The Giants on Monday finished with 215 total yards — the second-lowest total of the 26-game Judge era — and just 66 rushing yards. The 15 first downs was a season low, and only one of the Giants’ 54 offensive plays vs. the Bucs gained more than 16 yards.

The Giants have scored 30 points only once in the 26 games since Garrett joined the team. Even that came with the help of a defensive touchdown.

Garrett, 55, joined the Giants in 2020 after nine-plus seasons as the Cowboys’ head coach. He didn’t call plays from 2012 to 2019, but he did lead Dallas to an 85-67 record.

The former Giants quarterback (2000-03) was always a curious hire, as he didn’t have any previous experience working with Judge. The lack of aggressiveness and offensive innovation had been obvious from the start of Garrett’s tenure.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski could miss weeks with fractured ribs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski has fractured ribs that threaten to sideline him for weeks, sources told ESPN on Saturday.

Gronkowski did not travel with the Buccaneers to Foxborough, Massachusetts, for Sunday’s game versus the New England Patriots because of the effect that flying could have on his injury.

“We held out hope all week that Gronk would be ready,” a team source told ESPN. “He’s a different breed.”

Gronkowski suffered the injury during Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams but returned to finish the match. Initially, the Buccaneers and Gronkowski did not think the injury was as severe as it turned out to be, and X-rays of Gronkowski’s ribs taken after the game came back negative.

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But further MRI testing during the week revealed the fractures not found on the X-rays, which do not show hairline fractures.

Gronkowski did not practice Wednesday or Thursday and was spotted only stretching during Friday’s practice. The Buccaneers had listed him as doubtful on Friday before downgrading him to out Saturday.

“He made progress but not enough,” coach Bruce Arians told ESPN’s Jenna Laine on Saturday.

After traveling to New England this weekend, the Buccaneers host Miami, play at Philadelphia on a Thursday night and then return home for Chicago before a road game at New Orleans and their Nov. 7 bye.

However, the four-time All-Pro isn’t the only one injured in the Bucs squad.

As along with him, linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul has sustained a shoulder injury and RB Giovani Bernard and CB Jamel Dean both can be seen on the Bucs sidelines with knee injuries.

Although due to Rob’s absence, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate will have more time on the field. The duo has caught a combined seven of eight targets for 75 yards this campaign.

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Richard Sherman signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers: ‘Best offer I had’

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team revealed Wednesday.

A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Sherman signed a one-year contract.

Sherman had been in discussions with the Buccaneers for several weeks and said on “The Richard Sherman Podcast” that multiple teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers, also expressed interest.

“I went with the best offer I had, the best opportunity to go out there and put some great tape on, to lead another group,” Sherman stated. “I feel comfortable and confident in my abilities to go out there and execute and help that team win.”

Sherman said quarterback Tom Brady reached out to him as well.

“He’s the all-time great quarterback reaching out, and anytime he makes that call, it’s a very difficult opportunity to pass up,” Sherman said. Sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder on Tuesday that Sherman thinks he needs a week or two to be ready to play in a game.

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Also Wednesday, the Buccaneers placed wide receiver Scotty Miller on injured reserve.

A source told Schefter on Monday that Miller was dealing with a toe injury.

The Buccaneers will be Sherman’s third NFL team, after he spent the past three seasons with the 49ers and played the first seven years of his career in Seattle.

Sherman, 33, can provide valuable experience in one of the league’s youngest defensive backfields. He is also a sure tackler, which has been an issue for the Tampa Bay defense this campaign.

The Buccaneers are without Sean Murphy-Bunting, who was placed on injured reserve with a dislocated right elbow Sept. 20, and Jamel Dean, their third cornerback, who left Sunday’s game versus the Los Angeles Rams with a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return.

Sherman is dealing with legal issues and has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Friday in Washington. He was arrested in July in connection with an incident at the home of his wife’s parents in Redmond, Washington, and was charged with five misdemeanors, including two counts of domestic violence — criminal trespass in the second degree and malicious mischief in the third degree — as well as resisting arrest, driving while under the influence and reckless endangerment of roadway workers.

He pleaded not guilty to all five charges and said in a statement on Twitter in July that he was “deeply remorseful” for his actions and “behaved in a manner I’m not proud of.”

In February, King County prosecutors and the sheriff also obtained an “extreme risk protection order” for Sherman, barring him from having guns after a judge determined he posed a danger to himself and others. Details of the case were sealed.

The Buccaneers did their due diligence on Sherman’s legal situation and believe he has the necessary support systems in place, sources told ESPN’s Jenna Laine

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Antonio Brown tests positive for COVID-19

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed wide receiver Antonio Brown on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the team revealed Wednesday.

Brown has tested positive for the virus, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Brown is the third player, along with inside linebacker/special teams captain Kevin Minter and practice squad wide receiver Travis Jonsen, to be placed on the list this week.

“Kevin and A.B. are both on the COVID list. With A.B., we’ve got plenty of guys with a proven track record at that position,” Arians stated, pointing to their depth at wide receiver with Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson.

“Kevin will be missed as far as special teams, but we’ve got some young guys ready to roll.” Arians said Minter and Brown technically still have an opportunity to play Sunday, but the team is preparing as if they won’t be available.

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Brown, like every one of his teammates and all members of the Bucs’ coaching staff, is fully vaccinated, and per NFL rules, needs two negative tests 24 hours apart to return, as long as he is asymptomatic.

Players who are vaccinated are not subject to the mandatory 10-day quarantine as unvaccinated players.

Brown’s 138 receiving yards through two matches is second-most on the team this season, and he’s arguably the Bucs’ most versatile route runner — he can go deep but also is extremely productive using his suddenness inside.

Last year’s team moniker was “beat the virus,” and Arians has largely attributed losing only four starters to COVID-19 — for a total of six games — with winning the Super Bowl.

The Bucs hit the road this week for one of the more challenging parts of their schedule. They take on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, and then next week, they’ll travel to Foxborough, Massachusetts, to take on the New England Patriots.

The Bucs lost to the Rams 27-24 last season, with the Rams limiting the Bucs to just 209 passing yards, among the lowest of their season.

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Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence will miss 6-8 weeks with broken foot

Dallas Cowboys defensive DeMarcus Lawrence sustained a broken foot in Wednesday’s practice that will force him to miss 6-8 weeks.

It is a huge blow to a defense that did not generate a sack in Week 1 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and could also be without its second-best pass rusher, Randy Gregory, Sunday versus the Los Angeles Chargers.

Lawrence was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice but immediately had an MRI, which revealed the break.

Lawrence did not practice for most of training camp because of offseason back surgery but he recorded six tackles, two quarterback pressures and forced a fumble against the Buccaneers.

He has 45.5 sacks for his career and is a two-time Pro Bowl pick. As for Gregory, coach Mike McCarthy did not sound hopeful before practice about him passing COVID-19 protocols in time to play versus the Chargers.

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“If you look at the history, it’s been 10 days pretty much everybody we’ve dealt with in the COVID protocol,” he said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”

With Lawrence out and if Gregory cannot play, then the Cowboys would potentially turn to Dorance Armstrong and Tarell Basham as their starters with Bradlee Anae and Chauncey Golston as backups.

They have combined for 10 sacks in their careers, or only 3.5 sacks more than what Lawrence recorded a year ago. Basham has 7.5 sacks in 59 games.

Golston, a third-round pick, missed all of training camp with a hamstring injury and was inactive for the season opener.

Perhaps the start of Wednesday’s practice was a bad omen for the Cowboys defensive line. Assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett was carted off the field with an apparent right knee injury that will require surgery.

Since the 31-29 loss to the Buccaneers, the Cowboys have lost four starters: Wide receiver Michael Gallup was placed on injured reserve with a calf strain, right tackle La’el Collins was suspended five games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Gregory was placed on the COVID-19 list and now Lawrence is out with the broken foot.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers reward DC Todd Bowles with new three-year deal

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are giving Todd Bowles a new three-year deal that keeps him as the NFL’s highest-paid defensive coordinator, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Bowles had one year left on his current deal, but this contract replaces that and doesn’t preclude him from taking another head-coaching job.

In January, Bowles interviewed for head-coaching positions with the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. He was also booked to interview with the Detroit Lions but canceled the interview upon learning the Lions “had their mind made up” about Dan Campbell.

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He was the head coach of the New York Jets for four campaigns, from 2015 to 2018, before joining Bruce Arians’ staff with the Buccaneers in 2019.

Bowles, 57, has a long history with Arians, having also served as the defensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals on Arians’ staffs in 2013 and 2014.

Their connection goes back to Bowles playing defensive back for Arians at Temple in the mid-1980s.

“I think it starts with individual teaching,” Arians said of Bowles. “How do they study film? He’ll bring them in at 5:30 in the morning individually, or maybe two or three, to teach them how to watch film. His expertise in defense is outstanding. He knows everything, he’s seen everything, he’s done everything.

“So the X-and-O part, that’s probably the easier part for him. It’s fitting all the pieces together on guys. What can this guy do, what can that guy do? Where can I create mismatches? Where can I get a guy on the easiest guy to beat on the offensive line? Breaking down protections and things like that. He does just a fantastic job of it.”

“He’s the type of defensive coordinator I would run through a brick wall for,” defensive lineman Will Gholston said.

“If he said, ‘Hey, if you hit it at this angle, it’s going to fall down,’ I wouldn’t second-guess it. He’s always right.”

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Antonio Brown still must pass physical before officially signing 1-year deal with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Antonio Brown agreed to a one-year deal to stay with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last month, but the veteran wide receiver has yet to formally sign the extension because he needs to pass a physical after undergoing a knee scope, coach Bruce Arians recently told PewterReport.com.

Brown underwent the successful knee scope on Tuesday.

“It’s just a matter of a physical,” Arians said. “We wanted AB back. He was a model citizen the whole time he’s been here. We wanted him back, and he’s never had surgery in his life, so it’s just a matter of getting the physical done. So yeah, I wanted him back the whole time.”

Bucs general manager Jason Licht told JoeBucsFan.com that he thinks Brown will sign his contract Monday. The deal is worth up to $6.25 million and has a guaranteed value of $3.1 million, including a $2 million signing bonus, which is all contingent upon Brown passing the physical.

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Brown led the Bucs in receiving targets over the final four matches of the regular season and had a 36-yard touchdown catch in the Tampa Bay’s wild-card-round triumph over the Washington Football Team.

He suffered a knee injury the following week versus the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs, forcing him to miss the NFC Championship Game.

But Brown returned to play in Super Bowl LV, in which he caught five passes for 22 yards and a 1-yard touchdown.

Last week, a lawsuit was filed against Brown for his role in an altercation with a moving truck driver in January 2020.

The suit says that the plaintiff, Anton Tumanov, suffered severe bodily injuries and mental anguish in the incident.

Brown pleaded no contest to one felony burglary with battery charge and two lesser misdemeanor charges related to the incident, and served an eight-game suspension in 2020 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy for that incident and a sexual misconduct allegation by an artist who worked in his home in 2017.

Last month, Brown reached a settlement on a civil suit with his former personal trainer, who accused him of sexually assaulting her in 2017 and 2018.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers bringing back LB Lavonte David on 2-year, $25M deal

Coach Bruce Arians made good on his word at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Super Bowl boat parade, when he told inside linebacker Lavonte David, “Your ass ain’t going nowhere.”

The Bucs on Tuesday agreed to terms with David on a two-year deal worth $25 million, with $20 million guaranteed, sources told ESPN, keeping one of the league’s premier inside linebackers from hitting free agency.

The move came just a few hours after the Bucs franchise-tagged wide receiver Chris Godwin, whom Arians also told at the parade, “Your ass ain’t going nowhere, either.”

Entering Tuesday, the Bucs had roughly $15 million in salary-cap space, according to Roster Management.

They were able to get creative and use three voidable years in David’s contract to spread his cap number more evenly though, so he’ll only count $3.5 million against the salary cap this year.

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“Grinding in them trenches with my dogs! No better feeling!” David captioned a photo on Instagram, with the hashtag #2more.

David, who has silently been one of the league’s better inside linebackers since he was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2012 draft, missed only seven total snaps during the 2020 season.

He had 117 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, 6 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles and 2 recoveries during the regular season, and he added 26 more tackles and a sack in the postseason as the Bucs won Super Bowl LV.

The longest-tenured player on the team and a captain for seven successive seasons, David, who turned 31 in January, is looked up to in the locker room and is largely credited for the development of Devin White, who enjoyed a breakout sophomore season in 2020.

In nine NFL campaigns, David has 1,124 tackles, 24 sacks, 128 tackles for loss, 55 QB hits, 12 interceptions, 52 passes defensed, 24 forced fumbles, 16 fumble recoveries and 3 defensive touchdowns.

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