A trying week for the Las Vegas Raiders concluded with a humbling loss.
The Raiders rode high into their third-ever home game at Allegiant Stadium after beating the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, but they couldn’t repeat the success against six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. Led by Brady, the Buccaneers chopped down the Raiders 45-20.
The Raiders have now lost two of three home games since relocating and sit at 3-3 on the season.
Given the lopsided final score, Las Vegas can’t blame the outing on a coronavirus situation that saw its week of practice disrupted. Four of the five offensive linemen who were forced to quarantine throughout the week — all except right tackle Trent Brown, who tested positive — ended up playing after testing negative for five straight days.
Neither Johnathan Abram, who came into contact with Brown too late to be eligible, nor Damon Arnette, who also tested positive, were available, however, and the two defensive backs’ absences may have proven more meaningful. The Raiders’ pass defense was picked apart by Brady, who completed 33 of 45 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns.
The 43-year-old widely considered the greatest football player of all time also had a rushing touchdown in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7. The Buccaneers fell into an early deficit, but took the lead when Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski for a 5-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
They wouldn’t trail again and were up multiple scores the majority of the afternoon.
Tampa Bay committed a pair of third-down penalties to extend a Las Vegas drive late in the third quarter and allow the latter back into the game when Derek Carr found Darren Waller for a touchdown. The Raiders added a field goal on their next drive, cutting the Buccaneers lead to 24-20.
Things unraveled from there.
Brady took the Buccaneers 67 yards on 11 plays in just more than five minutes and hit Chris Godwin for a 4-yard touchdown to go back up multiple scores. Then Antoine Winfield Jr. intercepted Derek Carr on the first play of the Raiders’ next possession, ending any hopes of a comeback.
Carr wasn’t the problem overall as he put up 284 yards and two touchdown passes but he didn’t get any help from the defense. As if the Raiders’ week hadn’t gone badly enough, Brady capped it off by handing them their biggest loss of the season.
This is a developing story. Check back to lasvegassun.com later for more coverage, and read below for live updates throughout the game.
Buccaneers take 31-20 lead over Raiders with 7:22 to play
Update: The Raiders’ decision to settle for a field goal, detailed below, did not pay off.
They now face a two-touchdown deficit with time dwindling. Tampa Bay converted three third downs — one courtesy of a Raiders’ holding penalty — en route a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Chris Godwin to get its lead back up to double digits.
Brady has been spectacular all afternoon against the Raiders’ defense, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns on 30-for-42 passing.
Raiders kick another field goal, trail Buccaneers 24-20
On fourth-and-1 from the 16-yard line, coach Jon Gruden sent out the kicking team.
Daniel Carlson easily made the 36-yard attempt to cut Tampa Bay’s lead down to four points. The Buccaneers went three-and-out on their last offensive possession and stalled in the red zone before that, and the Raiders will need to hop they can continue to rely on their defense.
By going conservative and opting for the three points, Gruden is signaling that he trusts the unit to get another stop.
Raiders cut Buccaneers lead to 24-17 with 4:15 to go
Two Buccaneers’ penalties extended the Raiders’ latest drive and ultimately allowed the home team to get back into the game.
Only one score separates the two teams now after Darren Waller caught a 2-yard touchdown on a slant pass from Derek Carr. His score followed a 44-yard bomb from Carr to Nelson Agholor, which was only possible because of the Buccaneers first jumping offside and then holding on a pair of flags.
The Raiders offense had been dormant, but might have woken up at the perfect time.
Buccaneers lead 24-10 with 8:40 to go in third quarter
One first down and out for Raiders, eight plays and a field goal for the Buccaneers.
That’s how the second half started for both sides at Allegiant Stadium as the Buccaneers saw a drive stall just short of the goal line and elected to send Ryan Succop in for a 29-yard field goal. Trayvon Mullen deflected a pass in the end zone on second down and then made a tackle along the sideline on third down to keep the Buccaneers from scoring.
The tackle came on Scotty Miller, who picked up 10 yards before being pushed out of bounds to continue his big day. The second-year pro has five catches for 97 yards as the favorite target of Tom Brady, who’s completed 22 of 32 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns.
The Raiders have been much less consistent on offense and that will need to change in a hurry if they want to mount a comeback here.
Buccaneers lead Raiders 21-10 at halftime
Tampa Bay is rolling as the teams go into the locker room for halftime.
Las Vegas was careful not to give up any big plays in Tampa’s final drive of the first half, and they succeeded at first, but Tom Brady eventually got his way. Despite tight coverage, Brady perfectly placed a 33-yard pass to Scotty Miller in the end zone.
The scoring drive ended up consisting of 13 plays for 88 yards in 2:02. Perhaps an even bigger problem for the Raiders is their offense.
The Buccaneers’ defense mostly shut them down in the second quarter, holding the Raiders to a single Daniel Carlson field goal.
Buccaneers up 14-10 on Raiders with 4:21 reamining
Tampa Bay has its first lead.
After Devin White-led pressure consistently got to Derek Carr on Las Vegas’ last possession, Tampa Bay took advantage of getting the ball punted back to them. The Buccaneers went 85 yards on eight plays in 4:32 with Rob Gronkowski pulling down a 5-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone for the score.
Gronkowski also had a 26-yard reception two plays before to get the ball to the 5-yard line. The Raiders had been slightly better against tight ends this year, but last year’s weakness is reappearing as it struggles with the veteran Gronkowski.
Raiders lead Buccaneers 10-7 with 14:56 to go
The Tuck Rule worked in the Raiders’ favor this time.
Ndamukong Suh recovered what was ruled a Derek Carr fumble at the start of the second quarter and returned it 59 yards to inside the Buccaneers’ red zone. Replay overturned the call to an incomplete pass on third down, allowing Daniel Carlson to knock through a 42-yard field goal and give Las Vegas the lead again.
Buccaneers tie the game at 7-7
The Raiders’ lead didn’t last long.
The Buccaneers scored four minutes after the Raiders took the lead in the first quarter when Tom Brady finished off a 77-yard drive with a 2-yard quarterback sneak on 3rd-and-goal. Tampa leaned heavily on Ronald Jones, who had 27 yards on the ground, and Rob Gronkowski, who had 25 receiving yards, on the drive.
At this rate, Allegiant Stadium is in for another shootout.
Raiders lead 7-0 after a possession from each team
The Raiders aren’t the least bit intimidated by their matchup against one of the NFL’s top defenses.
Las Vegas just drove right down the field on Tampa Bay, scoring on their first drive when Nelson Agholor leapt to pull down a 21-yard touchdown from Derek Carr. The Raiders went 70 yards on six plays in 3:37.
Agholor also kickstarted the drive with a 28-yard reception on the second play. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, went three and out on its first possession.
Marcus Mariota will not be today's backup quarterback despite practicing for the last couple weeks.
That's the biggest takeaway from the Raiders' just-released inactives list, and for that, fans should be relieved. Notably, the whole offensive line is healthy aside from Trent Brown and has officially cleared the coronavirus protocol.
The only other notable absence is wide receiver Bryan Edwards, who wasn't expected to play anyway. Mariota was always the biggest question, but it appears he'll wait at least one more week to make his Raiders' debut on the sideline with Nathan Peterman once again serving as Derek Carr's backup.
The Buccaneers had no surprise inactives.
The Las Vegas Raiders dispatched a Super Bowl contender their last time out; now they must defeat another.
The Raiders (3-2) have been riding high for two weeks, through their bye, after pulling off the biggest upset of the NFL season so far in beating the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs on the road. To maintain their good spirits, they’ll have to play a similarly strong game against six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, who’s looking to add another ring with his new team.
The Buccaneers (4-2) have lived up to the hype since Brady’s arrival, albeit not totally because of Brady’s arrival. Tampa Bay’s offense has been fine under Brady, but defense is what’s really propelled the Buccaneers into becoming the second favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, behind the Seattle Seahawks, according to local betting odds.
The game was originally scheduled for NBC’s Sunday Night Football but was swapped out when right tackle Trent Brown was added to the COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Brown was determined to have come into contact with six other players — the rest of the starting offensive line and safety Johnathan Abram — who were also sent home and unable to practice for the week.
• Who: Buccaneers at Raiders
• When: 1:05 p.m.
• Where: Allegiant Stadium
• Media: KVVU-TV, Fox 5; Raider Nation Radio 920 AM
• Betting line: Buccaneers -3.5, over/under: 52
Favorable matchup: Raiders’ defensive line vs. Buccaneers’ offensive line
This is a bit speculative, but if the Raiders’ defensive front can play up to the level it showed against the Chiefs, then it’s going to turn into an unforeseen strength. Las Vegas wreaked havoc on Patrick Mahomes despite often rushing only its front four. Displaced from defensive end to defensive tackle because of injuries, Clelin Ferrell had the best game of his career in racking up nine pressures on Mahomes. With tackles Maliek Collins and Maurice Hurst expected to return against the Buccaneers, the Raiders should theoretically be able to mount even more pressure on Brady. Tampa Bay’s offensive line has been solid and is certainly not a weakness, but it also has less star power than any other position group on the visitors’ roster. The unit has particularly struggled away from home, allowing Brady to be sacked eight times in three road games.
Problematic matchup: Raiders’ short passing game vs. Buccaneers’ defensive backs
The Raiders’ short passing attack has been as efficient as any team in the NFL’s. The Buccaneers’ short passing defense has been as stingy as any teams in the NFL’s. Something has to give. Tampa Bay’s Bruce Arians is known as an aggressive defensive coach, and his team has taken on his personality by not hesitating to jump on routes near the line of scrimmage to try to create turnovers and big plays. The Buccaneers sit second in the NFL with eight interceptions, including two off of the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers, who had started the season with four turnover-free performances. Jamel Dean, who returned one Rodgers interception 32 yards for a touchdown, has been a breakout star and arguably the best cornerback in the league. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr must be careful with players like Dean and Carlton Davis, who has three interceptions on the year, lurking and looking to pounce on mistakes.
THEY SAID IT
• “I try not to get too deep, too philosophical. I had a great time in Tampa. A lot of my friends still live there.” -Gruden on facing the Buccaneers for the first time since coaching the franchise from 2002-08
• “It ranks No. 1 in the weirdest things, and you all know we’ve seen a lot of weird things in my seven years here.” -Carr on the entire offensive line not being able to practice this week
• “We all knew there was going to be some ups and downs and knew we had to deal with some BS going into the season, but as far as the game, we can line up and play tomorrow. It doesn’t matter to us.” -Ferrell on the rescheduling
• “Especially in a home crowd, I don’t have guys cussing me out in the stands.” -Kicker Daniel Carlson on why he misses fans despite silence making his job easier
Gamebreaker: Wide receiver Henry Ruggs III
If the Raiders find it difficult to connect on short routes, they could always just throw downfield more often. That’s what they did against the Chiefs, with both Carr and coach Jon Gruden saying they felt more comfortable doing so with Ruggs in the lineup. The rookie burner had two receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City after missing Las Vegas’ two previous games, but his impact went beyond the numbers. Ruggs’ speed demands attention as safeties must play deeper and put extra emphasis on not letting him get behind the defense like he did on a 72-yard completion for his first career touchdown against the Chiefs. Put simply, Ruggs opens up the whole passing game. With an extra week of rest, he’s presumably fully recovered from a knee injury that’s limited him ever since the first half of Week 1 and possibly more dangerous than ever.
Big Number: 1
The Buccaneers’ ranking in two of the most well-respected analytical models ranking NFL teams — Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings and nflfastR’s EPA. Both sets of power ratings are predicated upon calculating the success or failure of every play run this season and help illustrate just how dominant Tampa Bay has played despite two losses. The Buccaneers grade out almost as well by more traditional metrics as they sit second in the NFL with a +55 scoring margin, seven points behind the Steelers, which have played a much weaker schedule. DVOA graded the Buccaneers’ 38-10 win over the Packers last week as the best game played by any team all season. Aside from a second meeting against the Chiefs next month, the Raiders won’t play a better team the rest of the season.
Best Bet: Josh Jacobs under 68.5 rushing yards
Between veterans being given time off during the bye and the ensuing coronavirus scare, most of the Raiders’ offensive line hasn’t practiced in two weeks. The rustiness seems likely to cause problems on gameday, and because Carr is so adept in getting rid of the ball quickly, it might have a bigger impact on the run game than the pass game. Trying to block the likes of the Buccaneers’ Lavonte David and Ndamukong Suh after five days of isolation is a tall order. Jacobs’ workload is also expected to decrease given the emergence of backup Devontae Booker, whom Gruden wants to continue to get more carries. Look for the Raiders to be forced into a more pass-happy approach and Jacobs potentially being a bigger factor in the pass game than the run game, where he’ll struggle to cross even 50 rush yards.