After winning three of their last four games — all in ugly fashion — the Bucs headed west for a bigger test on Sunday afternoon, facing off against the NFC West-leading 49ers. As it turned out, Tampa Bay slumped that bigger test and was dominated by the jump in a 35-7 loss to San Francisco.
The Bucs appeared to be off to a good start to the game, with Keanu Neal flying in to fire rookie quarterback Brock Purdy – landing a big hit in the process. But instead of an eight-yard loss, an incendiary call from the passer-by gave San Francisco a first. And Purdy led an easy touchdown drive from there, with Deebo Samuel finally capping the 67-yard five-play drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to give the 49ers an early 7–0 lead.
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense got a few first downs on their first drive, but they finally settled for a 55-yard field goal attempt from Ryan Succop. What should have been the veteran kicker’s career was not to be, as his effort went wide of target. However, the 49ers failed to capitalize on the strong field position afforded them by the missed punt.
The Bucs finally hit a big play to seemingly tie the game on their next possession, with Mike Evans going wide for a 68-yard touchdown, only to have the score nullified by a holding penalty off Donovan Smith. Two plays later, Jake Camarda came on for a punt.
On their next possession, the 49ers again rolled over the Buccaneer defense. A 15-yard pass to George Kittle and two 13-yard runs by Christian McCaffrey put San Francisco in the red zone before Purdy finally ran for a two-yard touchdown—seriously shoving Devin White in the process—to lift the home side. put 14-0 up a game in the second quarter.
The incompetence continued on the offensive side of the ball with another three and out on the next drive, returning the ball to Purdy and San Francisco with a chance to build on their lead. And that’s exactly what they did, driving 71 yards in nine plays before finishing the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Purdy to McCaffrey. Midway through the second quarter, the 49ers were 21-0.
The Tampa Bay offense showed little cause for hope in response, going three in a row for the third time in a row. But the defense tried to give the Bucs a lifeline, with Anthony Nelson forcing a fumble from Samuel that was recovered by Lavonte David. However, it led to an awkward scene as Samuel had to be taken off with a knee injury.
After a third-down conversion to get the drive going, Brady hit Chris Godwin for a 32-yard gain to get into the red zone for the first time on the day. But after going backwards on 2nd-1, the Bucs missed the third and fourth from the 9-yard line. The key turnover enforced by the defense came to naught.
And again, San Francisco moved the ball to Tampa Bay with ease as the first half drew to a close. Purdy led the 49ers from their own 9 all the way down to the Bucs’ 37. It looked like Tampa Bay then had another takeout, with Nelson intercepting Purdy, but a questionable watch call on Carlton Davis canceled it out. A play later, Purdy hit Brandon Aiyuk for a 32-yard touchdown to put San Francisco ahead 28–0 before halftime.
Deven Thompkins opened the second half with a 54-yard kickoff return, but it didn’t matter. After hitting his hand on a helmet on second, Brady knocked Evans over for an interception on third. And two plays later, McCaffrey ran 38 yards down the middle to make it 35-0 early in the third quarter.
The Bucs went down the field with quick win after quick win on their next drive, but the possession ended in another Brady interception, this one by Dre Greenlaw. It didn’t score any points for San Francisco, but whatever chance Tampa Bay had to make the score look respectable was hit.
The Bucs finally found the end zone at 2:48 in the third quarter, with a Brady pass that went out of Godwin’s hands and into Russell Gage’s front an eight-yard touchdown. That made it 35-7 on a 13-play, 74-yard drive.
San Francisco essentially kissed the rest of the way and as Tampa Bay began to move the ball, the offense could do nothing but make the score look closer than it actually was. But Todd Bowles’ team failed even at that, failing to score again and sputtering their way to a 35-7 defeat.
Brady, up his long-awaited homecoming to the Bay Area, finished the day 34-of-55 for 253 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Rachaad White ran for 50 yards on 13 carries and caught five passes for 21 yards but had a late fumble. It was Godwin who led all receivers with five catches for 54 yards. The Tampa Bay offense finished 4-of-16 on third downs and 4-of-7 on fourth.
Anthony Nelson was the only Buccaneer defenseman to write home about as the unit allowed 35 points and 404 yards. purdy, the final pick of the 2022 Draft, she diced for 185 yards on 16-0f-21 passing and scored a total of three touchdowns. McCaffrey was the big producer for the 49ers (9-4), running for 119 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. He also had two catches for 34 yards and another touchdown.
The Bucs are now 6-7, but still lead the NFC South by a game. They return home in Week 15 to host the Bengals (9-4) next Sunday, kicking off at 4:25 p.m.
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