Monday Night Football: 5 takeaways from the Rams' Week 11 win over the Buccaneers
While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were favored at home against the visiting Los Angeles Rams in a "Monday Night Football" NFC showdown, it was the Rams who came away with the 27-24 victory on the road.
In what could have been a preview of a playoff game we’ll see in January, here were five important takeaways from the contest.
5. Antonio Brown Might Be The Go-To Receiver In Tampa Bay
Even though he’s only played three games for the Buccaneers, Antonio Brown might already be Tom Brady’s main man, ahead of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Brown’s targets have increased in each game he’s played, from 5, to 8, to 13 against the Rams.
Brady mostly looked for AB on short to intermediate routes to keep the chains moving, but in a way, that type of player has always been the GOAT’s favorite. While Brown is naturally more talented than the Wes Welkers and Julian Edelmans of the world, he can effectively play that role on this team while his Pro Bowl receiver teammates draw attention on the outside.
This type of target share doesn’t figure to be an outlier considering Brady’s love for slot receivers, and factoring that Brown is currently sleeping at the quarterback’s home.
4. The Rams D-Line Worked The Buccaneers O-Line
This wasn’t a shocking takeaway, considering that Los Angeles features the best defensive player in the NFL in Aaron Donald, but it was going to be interesting to see how the Tampa Bay offensive line would protect their 43-year-old quarterback.
While the stats don’t really reflect how well the Rams' line played from a sacks and tackles-for-loss standpoint (they only had one of each, posted by Samson Ebukam), they made things uncomfortable enough for the Bucs' offense to keep the game under control. Bucs running backs Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette ran for a combined 41 yards on 17 carries, which put the game squarely in the hands of Brady. Additionally, the Rams very nearly forced a safety at the end of the third quarter, but the play was ruled an incomplete pass.
3. Tom Brady Had Some Uncharacteristic Plays
Overall, this was a pretty decent game for the future Hall of Famer (if he ever retires), but he had a couple of bizarre, unusual interceptions that we are not used to seeing from the ultra-precise quarterback.
In the third quarter, under heavy duress, Brady aired out a pass down the middle of the field to no one in particular, with Chris Godwin being the closest receiver (who wasn’t even that close). Rams safety Jordan Fuller had little difficulty picking off the pass, and returning it into Buccaneers territory.
With the game winding down in the 4th quarter, and Tampa Bay needing a field goal to force overtime, Brady again threw an errant pass up the seam, where Fuller was once again waiting to intercept his pass. This decision was even more head scratching because the Bucs still had one timeout left and over a minute and 50 seconds on the clock, which is an eternity for Brady.
2. Jared Goff Is Both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
It’s hard to know which Jared Goff you’re getting on a weekly basis. Is this the week he turns the ball over four times, like he did against the Miami Dolphins? Or will this be the game he completely dominates the defense, like he did against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2?
We saw both versions of Goff in all their glory on Monday night. He was instrumental in getting the Rams off to the great start they needed playing on the road (yes, there were fans in Tampa Bay last night), by finishing an excellent first quarter drive with a touchdown pass to WR Robert Woods. Goff was also extremely impressive in a drive just before the first half ended, which got the Rams into field goal range on a try that would end up being the final point differential in the game.
Then, we saw the dark side. On a play in the third quarter, Goff threw a screen pass right to Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, which could have easily been avoided, and kept Tampa in the ballgame.
1. We Should Pay More Attention To Cooper Kupp
To be clear, this isn’t the takeaway of a humble Sportskeeda writer. This is the takeaway of a Pro Bowl wide receiver you may have heard of from the Green Bay Packers named Davante Adams.
Adams was extremely impressed by Kupp’s performance on "Monday Night Football," which ended in a Davante-like stat line of 11 catches for 145 yards on 13 targets. This wasn’t a total based on one large chunk play either—Kupp consistently gashed the Tampa Bay secondary for gains as soon as the Rams possessed the ball in the first quarter.
If Kupp can continue stringing performances like these together in meaningful games (which the Rams have of plenty of), he’ll start to be discussed in the upper echelon of receivers in the NFL.