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Tom Brady throws three touchdowns as Bucs beat Broncos 28-10

By Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Football

DENVER - There's always a discussion about the elevation and oxygen levels whenever a team visits Mile High to play the Broncos.

But in a place where Tom Brady has struggled, the Bucs proved they have enough weapons to beat most teams even when they don't take your breath away.

Brady passed for 297 yards and threw three touchdowns in the first half - including two to Mike Evans - as the Bucs won their second straight game, beating the Broncos 28-10.

Brady wasn't particularly sharp at times Sunday. His best pass plays were better catches by tight end O.J. Howard (33 yards) and Scotty Miller (47 yards). But Brady spread the football around, with eight players catching passes Sunday.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, whose "I'm here to block, baby!" proclamation last week wasn't ignored, caught a season-high six passes for 48 yards and was targeted seven times. He entered the game with only four targets and two catches for 11 yards.

The Broncos are a team decimated by injuries and without starting quarterback Drew Lock. The Bucs defense was mostly dominant, save for a letdown in a two-minute drill just before the half.

Tampa Bay sacked backup Jeff Driskel five times, including two by Shaquil Barrett, and had six on the game. After going without a sack in the first two games, Barrett opened the second half by tackling Driskel in the end zone for a safety.

Two other sacks came from the Bucs' safeties - Antoine Winfield and Jordan Whitehead. Linebacker Lavonte David had an interception forced by a hit on Driskel by defensive lineman Anthony Nelson. In fact, Brett Rypien replaced Driskel in the fourth quarter and safety Mike Edwards intercepted him in the end zone.

It was the special teams that got things rolling the right direction for the Bucs. Patrick O'Connor blocked a punt by Sam Martin and returned it to the Broncos' 10-yard line to start the game.

 

On third down, Brady found Chris Godwin in the left flat and he ran over cornerback Michael Ojemudia, stretching the ball over the goal line for a touchdown.

Suddenly at 2-1, the Bucs' future looks bright. After hosting the Los Angeles Chargers (1-2), they travel to Chicago to play the Bears (3-0) on Thursday Night Football before hosting the Green Bay Packers (2-0) Oct. 18.

Brady had a losing record to only one team in his career entering Sunday's game: the Broncos. He was 8-9 overall, including 1-3 in the post-season.

The Bucs didn't run the football very consistently and their offensive line didn't protect Brady, who was sacked three times. Jones led the Bucs with 53 yards on 13 carries. Leonard Fournette added 15 on eight rushing attempts.

Overall, the Bucs have left their defense on the field too much and have failed in the past two games to build on big first half leads.

But now they have a two-game winning streak and some momentum to start the season.

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