Running the football to a victory was unexpected for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, yet they rushed for 161 yards and then held on in a crucial 21-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks to take the NFL's first regular-season game in Germany. Crossing the pond seemed to be just the trick to awaken Tampa Bay's run game, as the Buccaneers averaged only 3.7 yards per carry but got explosive runs from Rachaad White to hold off the NFC West-leading Seahawks.
With Seattle making a late push at a comeback win, the Bucs didn't allow it to get the ball back in the final minutes. White had runs of 12 and 18 yards on the final drive to essentially seal the victory for Tampa Bay. He finished with 22 carries for 105 yards in the win, marking the first 100-yard rushing performance for Tampa Bay this season.
The Seahawks trailed 21-3 in the fourth quarter, but made a late rally with two touchdown passes from Geno Smith to cut the deficit to five points with 3:38 to play. Smith finished 23 of 33 for 275 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, but didn't have the opportunity to complete the comeback as Seattle's defense couldn't get off the field.
While the Buccaneers' run game was the best it has been all season, Tom Brady was efficient, finishing 22 of 29 for 258 yards with two touchdown passes -- one to Julio Jones and another to Chris Godwin. Brady's 31-yard touchdown pass to Jones was the Buccaneers' longest touchdown of the season, giving Tampa Bay the lead for good in the second quarter.
Brady did throw his first interception since Week 1, snapping a streak of 399 consecutive passes without a pick. That's the second-longest streak in NFL history, just four behind Aaron Rodgers' 403 consecutive attempts in 2018. Brady was also the intended recipient on a wild interception thrown by Leonard Fournette. Godwin also had his first touchdown grab since tearing his ACL last December.
Below are the top takeaways from the Bucs' win over the Seahawks in Munich.
Why the Buccaneers won
In an unexpected turn of events, Tampa Bay's run game was the driving force behind a victory. The Buccaneers ran for a season-high 161 yards in Sunday's win, including an even more surprising 22 carries for 105 yards from rookie Rachaad White. Getting the start in place of Fournette to spice up the run game, White had the Buccaneers' first 20-yard run of their season to end the third quarter along with two crucial runs on Tampa Bay's final drive to preserve the victory.
Tampa Bay came into this game averaging just 60.7 rush yards per game, and just 47 per game over the past three weeks. With the 161 rushing yards Sunday, that average went up to 70.7 -- a surprising development over what we've seen the past few weeks.
Why the Seahawks lost
Seattle couldn't adjust to the time zone difference in Munich quick enough, having run just 20 plays for a total of just 57 yards in the first half. The Seahawks punted on all five possessions and were 0 of 5 on third down with just three first downs, falling behind 14-0 at halftime.
The Seahawks couldn't get the run game going either, as they just had 39 yards and averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. While the 39 yards weren't a season low, that put a lot of pressure on Geno Smith to deliver a win. Smith almost delivered, but Seattle going 1 of 9 on third down along with a crucial red zone fumble in the third quarter hindered the Seahawks' chances of capping the comeback.
The Buccaneers were up 14-0 late in the third quarter when Rachaad White made his presence felt in the run game. Already with a solid showing, White had Tampa Bay's first 20-yard run of the season with a 29-yard mark to end the third quarter.
White took a first-down run from the Buccaneers' 28 into Seattle territory, capped with a stiff arm on Quandre Diggs that had the crowd in Munich the loudest it was all day. This run set the stage for Tampa Bay's final touchdown drive that ended up being the deciding score.
Tampa Bay scored a touchdown seven plays later and White had game-sealing runs of 12 and 18 yards in the fourth quarter on the Buccaneers' final possession. Tampa Bay may have its go-to back in White, who might be the starter going forward.
Play of the game
It wasn't the most memorable of plays for Tom Brady and Leonard Fournette, but it's the play everyone in the NFL is talking about. Fournette took a snap out of the wildcat with Brady out wide, attempting to throw the ball to Brady with Tampa Bay dominating Seattle in the third quarter.
Brady slipped on the Allianz Arena turf and Tariq Woolen came away with his fifth interception of the season -- tying for the league lead. Brady tripped the rookie cornerback at the end of the play, adding 15 yards to the blunder.
This play will be one offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich will likely throw out. Brady admitted he slipped on the play, laughing about his blunder.
"The effort was awesome. The guys up front played great. The receivers played great. Everyone made plays. We ran the ball great, but we still left a little out there." -- Tom Brady on calling out the Buccaneers last week and challenging their effort.
Tampa bay needed to take control of the NFC South and get back to .500. As Brady said, the Buccaneers grinded out a win.
The Buccaneers (5-5) and Seahawks (6-4) each have their bye week after traveling home from Germany. Both teams will return in Week 12, with the Buccaneers facing the Browns in Cleveland on Sunday, Nov. 27. The Seahawks host the Raiders on Sunday, Nov. 27.