The Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought everyone back from a Super Bowl championship team. If anyone was immune to the weird recent spate of upsets to contenders, you’d think it would be them.
The entire NFL world has gone mad. The Buccaneers faced the disappointing 2-6 Washington Football Team and looked like the team that was four games under .500. The Buccaneers did little on offense, the defense gave up a fourth-quarter drive that lasted more than 10 minutes with the game on the line, and Washington pulled off a monster 29-19 upset win. it’s the Bucs’ second straight loss; they dropped a game to the Trevor Siemian-led Saints before their bye.
The Baltimore Ravens started Week 10 with a weird loss to the Miami Dolphins. Last week, the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams were dealt inexplicable losses. Whenever a team climbs the ladder in the NFL this season, they’re knocked off by a team from the bottom rung. The Buccaneers aren’t an exception, and it was clear right away they were in trouble.
Through the first quarter, Brady had 5 yards passing. He had a pair of interceptions too, though one was hardly his fault. Brady threw a nice pass to receiver Jaelon Darden who was hit, and the ball popped into the air. Washington picked it off, and you knew it might be a weird day for the Bucs after that play.
The Buccaneers looked lethargic but got back into the game due to a Washington mistake. WFT receiver Dax Milne was stripped after a catch by Bucs linebacker Lavonte David and Tampa Bay recovered. Mike Evans then scored a 40-yard touchdown. The extra point was missed by the Bucs trailed 23-19. At that point you expected the Bucs to take over the game and win.
But after that, Tampa Bay had a tough time getting off the field. Washington went on a monster drive, lasting 19 plays and 80 yards, capped off by a fourth-and-goal touchdown run by Antonio Gibson with 29 seconds left. That put the game away. A championship defense gave up a drive to a mediocre offense that lasted 10:26. It was unbelievable … except that in the 2021 NFL, seeing great teams inexplicably fall apart has become the norm.
The Buccaneers should be fine. They’re missing Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski, which is a bit surprising given their depth. When they’re healthy they’re still a talented, championship-level team. And someone has to win a Super Bowl, right?
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 10 of the NFL season:
The red-hot Tennessee Titans, barely: The Titans continue to win, even if Sunday was a close call.
The Titans held on to beat the New Orleans Saints 23-21. The Titans looked like they had the game under control, then gave up two scores late and had to dodge a two-point conversion to win. But they did, as Trevor Siemian threw incomplete after the Saints scored in the final two minutes.
The Titans are the team this season that defies the odds and advanced stats. They’re 8-2 with six straight wins, even if metrics say they aren’t really that good. But they also don’t seem to care what the metrics say, because they keep winning.
Rhamondre Stevenson: The New England Patriots always find a productive running back. They often find a new one every other week.
On Sunday, it was Stevenson’s turn. With Damien Harris out due to injury, Stevenson stepped in as the featured back and looked great. The entire Patriots team looked fantastic as they continued their hot streak, beating the Cleveland Browns 45-7. Stevenson led the way with 100 rushing yards and a couple of touchdowns.
Stevenson was a fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma, and he’s a big back who fills the between-the-tackles role in the Patriots backfield. Harris probably takes back that role next week if he’s healthy, but the Patriots know that the rookie can fill in just fine if needed. Knowing the Patriots, he’ll have another day in the sun at some point this season.
Jonathan Taylor, rushing champion?: With Derrick Henry out for a while, Nick Chubb, Damien Harris and Alvin Kamara out, Taylor had a chance to gain some ground in the NFL rushing race. And he did.
Taylor cruised to a 100-yard game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts squeezed out a 23-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. If Taylor stays healthy, he should win a rushing title. He had 116 yards on Sunday. He’s more than 200 yards ahead of Chubb, who was third place in the NFL in rushing yards entering Week 10. Henry led the NFL coming into Week 10 but he might not play again this season. Taylor is positioned well to be the NFL’s top runner this season, and perhaps help the Colts into the playoffs.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons hadn’t trailed by 33 or more points at halftime of a game since 1967. Until Sunday.
The Falcons had the bad fortune of going against an angry Dallas Cowboys offense. CeeDee Lamb and Ezekiel Elliott each had two touchdowns in the first half, and the Cowboys scored a touchdown on a blocked punt. The Cowboys led 36-3 at halftime. They won 43-3.
It’s easy to write off the blowout as a bad team getting smashed, but the Falcons haven’t been all that bad. In fact, if the playoffs started after Week 9, the Falcons would have been the final wild-card team. But Sunday was a big wake-up call for Atlanta.
New York Jets defense, again: It has to be troubling how many points the Jets give up in certain games.
The Jets, coming off an awful showing against the Indianapolis Colts, gave up 38 points to the Buffalo Bills with six minutes left in the third quarter. The Bills cruised the rest of the way to a 45-17 win. Some of the points were due to the Jets offense doing nothing and giving the Bills some short fields, but it’s not like it’s a new thing for the defense to get embarrassed. The Bills could have put up 50 easily if they didn’t let up in the fourth quarter. New Jets coach Robert Saleh came in with the reputation of a defensive star, but New York hasn’t seen that yet.