NFC West Reporter
They were due for a dud.
The Seattle Seahawks entered Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a four-game winning streak and playing their best football of the season. However, Seattle’s young defense struggled to stop crafty, 45-year-old QB Tom Brady and Tampa’s more experienced offense, losing 21-16 in front of an energized, enthusiastic crowd at Allianz Stadium in Munich, Germany.
“This is unbelievable,” Bucs receiver Chris Godwin said about playing in Germany. “This is such a great experience. Germany has been great to us. The fans, they really turned out. This is a very unique experience, and I’m grateful to be part of this.”
Brady completed 22 of 29 passes (76%) for 258 yards and two touchdown passes, including a 31-yard touchdown to Julio Jones to open the game and four-yard score to Godwin for his team’s final tally. Brady completed passes to eight different receivers. With the win, Brady improved his record to 4-0 in international games.
Tampa Bay’s surprising ability to run the football opened things up for the passing game. The Bucs were one of the worst running teams entering Sunday, averaging a league-worst 61 yards a game. However, Tampa Bay got the running game going, totaling 163 yards on the ground on 42 carries. Rachaad White paced the Bucs with 105 yards on 22 carries.
The last time the Bucs rushed for more than 100 total yards was a Week 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Tampa Bay also kept the chains moving, finishing 10-of-14 on third down.
“The big guys up front played great,” Brady said after the game. “The receivers played great. Everyone made plays. We ran the ball great, so that’s what we need to do.”
The Bucs climbed back to the .500 mark at 5-5 with the win, good enough for the top spot in the NFC South, while the Seahawks remain atop the NFC West division, dropping to 6-4 on year. Both teams will enjoy some time off during their bye week.
Seattle’s defense had shown improvement over the past month during the team’s winning streak but reverted to poor tackling and a lack of connectivity. The Seahawks also failed to get pressure on Brady, finishing without a sack.
“Tampa Bay did what they wanted to do, particularly early in the game there to keep us off balance,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We had not been like that in a while, so we had to regroup. I don’t think we converted a third down in the first half (0-5), and we didn’t run the ball at all.”
The Seahawks could not consistently run the football or push the ball down the field. Seattle rookie Ken Walker III was held to just 17 yards on 10 carries. Geno Smith completed 23 of 33 passes for 275 passing yards and two touchdowns. However, Smith was sacked three times.
Tampa Bay linebacker Devin White led the Bucs with nine combined tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
With the Seahawks trailing 14-3, the Bucs gave Seattle some momentum in the second half. On first-and-10 from Seattle’s 22-year line, Leonard Fournette took the snap, rolled right and then tried to throw back across the field to Brady, who lined up out wide at receiver. Brady slipped on the play and tripped Tariq Woolen as he intercepted the pass on Seattle’s 11-yard line, with 6:39 left in the third quarter.
However, the Seahawks failed to capitalize on the play, as Smith was sacked and fumbled on second-and-9 from Tampa Bay’s 9-yard line.
Seattle managed to make the game close. Smith led the Seahawks to their first touchdown scoring drive, a 21-yard laser to Tyler Lockett, cutting Tampa Bay’s edge to 21-9 with 8:24 left in the contest.
And then Brady — four attempts from setting a record for consecutive passes without an interception — was picked off on a pass over the middle by Seattle linebacker Cody Barton on a ball intended for Mike Evans.
Smith then led Seattle on another scoring drive that included two fourth-down conversions — the last a 19-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin, cutting Tampa Bay’s advantage to 21-16 with 3:58 left.
However, Seattle never got the ball back as Tampa Bay moved the chains by converting four first downs to run out the clock.
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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