(CBS Miami) — Tom Brady was able to sneak out of New England with a victory. He brought his Tampa Bay Buccaneers back late on the Patriots, driving 45 yards to set up the game-winning field goal. That elevated the defending Super Bowl champions to 3-1 ahead of their Week 5 matchup with the Miami Dolphins. They’ll host a Dolphins team that’s coming off its third straight loss. Miami, now 1-3, fell to the winless Indianapolis Colts in Week 4, failing to keep up with Carson Wentz, who was playing on two sprained ankles.
Tom Brady continues to impress at the age of 44. While his former team limited him to only 22-43 passing for 269 yards and no touchdowns, he moved the ball when it mattered. Topping the Patriots gave him at least one win over every team in the league. He also set the record for regular-season passing yards in a career, surpassing Drew Brees. Brady leads the NFL in passing yards this season with 1,356 and has tossed 10 TD passes against only two interceptions.
While the GOAT deserves a lot of the credit for the Bucs’ perch atop the NFC South (in a tie with the Carolina Panthers), he is leading one of the NFL’s most high-powered offenses. Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Antonio Brown present a formidable receiving trio. Leonard Fournette is dangerous out of the backfield. However, Rob Gronkowski, the team’s touchdown leader and a favorite target of Brady from their days in New England, missed Week 4 with cracked and broken ribs. He’s expected to miss multiple games.
Up until last week, the ground game was a bit of an afterthought in Tampa. But with the rainy weather in Foxborough, the Bucs relied heavily of Leonard Fournette. And he came through with 92 yards on 4.6 yards per carry. “Knowing how you can best attack a team, those are adjustments you have to make,” said NFL On CBS analyst Trent Green.
Brady and company should be able to move the ball on a Dolphins defense that’s allowing 388.3 yards and 27.3 points per game. Both stats put them in the NFL’s bottom 10. Miami has given up at least 20 consecutive points three weeks in a row. They were able to contain the Colts for the first quarter plus, but gave up more big plays as the game wore on. The Dolphins defense allowed 103 yards on 16 carries to Jonathan Taylor and struggled to stop outside rushing plays. Their pass rush was only able to sack the immobile Carson Wentz twice. Lavonte David and Devin White lead the team in tackles, with 32 and 28 respectively.
This isn’t the Dolphins team many were expecting at the season’s outset. “I’m actually surprised after having that first game,” Green said. “It’s a tall order to think they’re going to get turned around this week against the Bucs. It’s the NFL, so strange things can happen. Brian Flores has a background with practicing against Tom Brady all that time he was in New England. But Tom is running quite a different offense than what he was running in New England. So that’s going to be a tall order for the Dolphins to get things turned around.”
While the Dolphins’ defense is underperforming, their offense remains the real problem. Tua Tagovailoa is sidelined with a rib injury. He could return for the team’s Week 6 game with Jacksonville Jaguars, but that won’t help them this week. For now, they’ll continue to sputter along behind Jacoby Brissett. He completed 20 of 30 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts. But they had only 62 net passing yards after three quarters. The team’s two passing touchdowns on Sunday give it a grand total of three on the season. Brissett faced a lot of pressure, getting sacked twice.
“They had a specific set of plays and the way they wanted to run their offense with Tua, I remember from talking to the coaches back in week 1,” said Green. “You look at Tua, and you look at Jacoby Brissett, and they’re quite a bit different, different quarterbacks. So I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.”
Brissett isn’t getting much help though. The offensive line has allowed 13 sacks on the season, fourth worst in the NFL. Myles Gaskin, the team’s leading rusher, has just 142 yards on the season.
The line may struggle to block a solid Bucs run defense that’s allowing a league-low 47.5 yards per game. That number partially stems from the Brady-led offense forcing opposing offenses lighting up the scoreboard and forcing opposing offenses to rely on the pass. But that doesn’t account for all of it. The Bucs actually held the Patriots to negative rushing yards on Sunday, a first for the Tampa defense and only the fourth time this has happened since the AFL-NFL merger. They also sacked Mac Jones four times and hit him 12 more.
The Dolphins will have to keep Brissett upright to have any chance at sticking with the Buccaneers. And even then, it may depend on how much Miami is willing to stretch the field. The Buccaneers are favored by 10 points, but there’s a good chance it won’t even be that close.