Buccaneers vs. Chargers final score: Tom Brady rallies Tampa to win over rookie Justin Herbert

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The Los Angeles Chargers held a 24-7 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second quarter but failed to seal the deal. Tom Brady rallied the troops for a 38-31 victory in Raymond James Stadium. It was his sixth comeback of 17 points or more in his career. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert made a valiant effort to keep pace, but it was the veteran savvy of Brady that won out in the end.

Herbert threw for 290 yards, which means he fell short of his third consecutive 300-yard passing game. Nevertheless, the rookie from Oregon made some dazzling throws and never backed down. Los Angeles has publicly acknowledged Tyrod Taylor will be the team's starter when he returns from injury, but it becomes more and more difficult to stay true to their word with each passing start by Herbert.

Why the Buccaneers won

The poise and productivity of 43-year-old Tom Brady. Brady threw for 369 yards, five touchdowns and one interceptions. It was his largest passing game since Super Bowl LII when he threw for 505 yards against the Eagles. It was the first time that he had thrown for five touchdowns since Sep. 24, 2017 against the Texans.

The Rob Gronkowski portion of output looked familiar. He made a big play to prevent an interception later in the contest. New Brady targets like wide receivers Mike Evans and Scotty Miller, as well as tight end O.J. Howard, also made crucial plays to spur the 17 points comeback victory.

Why the Chargers lost

The Tampa Bay defense was able to record two sacks on Tom Brady. It was able to force a fumble from rookie running back Joshua Kelley. Those errors were the difference in the game. If Los Angeles had secured the football at the end of the first half, the Buccaneers would have not scored a touchdown to go into the locker room. The NFC South team was able to steal a little bit of momentum giving them the feeling that the door was still open. Instead of a 24-17 halftime lead, it became 24-14. 

Otherwise, there were not many aspects of the game that could have been better for Los Angeles. Justin Herbert was calm, cool and collected. He responded nearly every time Tampa Bay dug into their lead. 

Play of the game

After taking a 35-31 advantage, Tampa Bay had the opportunity to ice the game. With roughly 4:30 left in the game, Brady targeted ole' reliable, Gronkowski, on 2nd-and-11. The quarterback throws a pass into coverage and it was essentially a jump ball. Initially, it looked as though Los Angeles linebacker Kyzir White was going to come up with the interception. Gronkowski had other plans as he tapped into his wrestling background to make a big play for his quarterback. 

Tampa Bay was able to drain essentially two additional minutes from the clock and add another field goal to their total. The 29-yard-grab was Gronkowski's only reception on the day.

What's next

Tampa Bay has a winnable game next week at Chicago. The schedule gets a little tougher the following week against the Green Bay Packers. The Buccaneers stand alone atop the NFC South. 

The Chargers have now lost three consecutive games after winning their opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. The road does not get any easier next week as the team travels to New Orleans. A slight reprieve is in the offing as they host the win-less New York Jets in Week 6. 

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TB -7, O/U 42.5

Season Leaders

passing
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J. Herbert 4336 YD, 31 TDS, 10 INTS
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J. Herbert 4336 YD, 31 TDS, 10 INTS
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T. Brady 4633 YD, 40 TDS, 12 INTS
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T. Brady 4633 YD, 40 TDS, 12 INTS
rushing
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A. Ekeler 116 ATT, 530 YD, 1 TD
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A. Ekeler 116 ATT, 530 YD, 1 TD
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R. Jones 192 ATT, 978 YD, 7 TDS
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R. Jones 192 ATT, 978 YD, 7 TDS
receiving
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K. Allen 100 REC, 992 YD, 8 TDS
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K. Allen 100 REC, 992 YD, 8 TDS
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M. Evans 70 REC, 1006 YD, 13 TDS
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M. Evans 70 REC, 1006 YD, 13 TDS
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Stay tuned for takeaways from today's game. Those will be posted in the body of the article above. Thank you for watching the game with us. We will see you next Sunday!

October 4, 2020, 8:39 PM

Tampa Bay comes back from 17 points down to win at Raymond James Stadium.

October 4, 2020, 8:11 PM

Rob Gronkowski really just wrestled away that interception.

October 4, 2020, 7:57 PM
@Buccaneers via Twitter
October 4, 2020, 7:54 PM

When evaluating a rookie quarterback, they are going to have big moments. You want to see how they respond to the low moments. After losing the lead, Justin Herbert responded with a quick, great drive to get back in front.

October 4, 2020, 7:34 PM

CBS broadcast says that Tom Brady has had five comebacks of 17+ points.

October 4, 2020, 7:29 PM

Los Angeles drained nearly seven minutes of clock and have a missed field goal to show for it. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers offense back to the field.

October 4, 2020, 7:23 PM
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