Dec 4, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) calls out the play against the Miami Dolphins during the third quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Purdy hopes to steady 49ers against Tom Brady’s Bucs

The quarterback regarded as the greatest of all time will square off against “Mr. Irrelevant” on Sunday when Tom Brady and Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit rookie Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif.

On one hand is Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl champion, three-time NFL MVP and 15-time Pro Bowl selection.

On the other is Purdy, who will make his first career start on Sunday. At the moment, Purdy’s claim to fame is that he was the 262nd pick of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Brady threw two late touchdowns to help Tampa Bay rally from a 13-point deficit to post a 17-16 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday. The 45-year-old has thrown two scoring strikes in three straight games for the Buccaneers (6-6), who have won three of their last four contests to rest atop a generously mediocre NFC South.

As for the 49ers (8-4), they find themselves atop the NFC West after winning in five in a row. That fifth victory was costly, however, as the 22-year-old Purdy was ushered in to replace an injured Jimmy Garoppolo (broken foot) in San Francisco’s 33-17 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

By all accounts, Purdy acquitted himself well on Sunday by completing 25 of 37 passes for 210 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Purdy had already become the first Mr. Irrelevant ever to complete a forward pass in the NFL back in Week 7 mop-up duty against Kansas City, and now he’s the only one with a touchdown pass.

San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday that the team isn’t interested in making wholesale changes to its offensive approach with Purdy under center this weekend.

“We’re trying not to make it a drastic change,” Shanahan said. “I mean, they (Garoppolo and Purdy) have similar skill sets. We’ve got a lot of confidence in Brock. We’ve seen him in practice; the players have, we have, and that’s why we were confident in him. But he hasn’t played a ton of football, so there is some unknown out there, but we know he’s got the ability to do it, we know he’s got the mentality to do it.”

Also, Purdy isn’t out there by himself. And Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles is well aware of that fact.

“He’s talented to begin with or he wouldn’t be in this league,” Bowles said. “But they have a lot of talented players around him and he’s going up against a great defense every day in practice. He’s not going to be nervous, he’s going to play his game — we just have to play ours.

“It’s not about the quarterback, it’s about all 11 guys on the offense.”

49ers running back Christian McCaffrey rolled up 146 scrimmage yards (80 receiving, 66 rushing) last week against Miami. He is no stranger to the Buccaneers after his time with the NFC South-rival Carolina Panthers.

McCaffrey (knee irritation) joined versatile Deebo Samuel (quad), defensive lineman Arik Armstead (foot) and offensive lineman Spencer Burford (ankle) as limited in Wednesday’s practice. NFC Defensive Player of the Week Nick Bosa (hamstring), joined Garoppolo, defensive back Tarvarius Moore (knee), defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway (pectoral) and offensive tackle Trent Williams (veteran day) in sitting out the session.

With Bosa in tow, the 49ers lead the NFL in total defense (283.9 yards allowed per game), rush defense (75.6) and fewest points allowed (15.8).

“We know what they are — the No. 1 defense in the league and they’re going to challenge us, come up on us, and we’re just ready to accept the challenge,” Buccaneers rookie running back Rachaad White said. “… We know what they bring, and they’ve got a lot of good, great guys up front. They have four pass rushers plus more, they come off the bench, substitute, I mean, the backers are in the box and then back in.

“You know what they can do, they compete, high-effort team, and they’re going to keep coming, so we’ve got to keep pressure.”

Tampa Bay’s defense is no slouch either. The Buccaneers rank eighth in the NFL in total defense (313.8), fifth in scoring defense (18.3) and fourth in sacks (38).

Tampa Bay safeties Mike Edwards (hamstring) and Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) and offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs (ankle/knee) did not participate in practice on Wednesday. Cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (quadriceps) and nose tackle Vita Vea (foot/shoulder) were limited in the session.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady authors record 44th comeback as Bucs stun Saints

Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the final three minutes as the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallied to defeat the New Orleans Saints 17-16 on Monday night.

Brady, who completed 36 of 54 for 281 yards, tossed a 1-yard TD pass to Cade Otton and added a 6-yarder to Rachaad White with three seconds left to produce his NFL-record 44th comeback victory in the fourth quarter or overtime, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning.

The Buccaneers (6-6) strengthened their hold on first place in the NFC South by sweeping the season series against the Saints (4-9).

New Orleans led 10-3 at halftime and 16-3 entering the game’s final minutes.

White fumbled and Carl Granderson recovered for the Saints at their 32-yard line midway through the third quarter. New Orleans drove to the Tampa Bay 3-yard line before stalling, and Wil Lutz kicked a 21-yard field goal that gave the Saints a 13-3 lead.

New Orleans quarterback Andy Dalton, who completed 20 of 28 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown, moved the Saints 69 yards to Lutz’s third field goal, a 29-yarder that increased the lead to 16-3 with 8:02 left in the fourth quarter.

Brady connected with Otton with three minutes left, completing a 10-play, 91-yard drive.

After a New Orleans punt, Brady drove his team 63 yards in 11 plays to the game-winner.

On the first possession of the game, Brady marched the Bucs 72 yards in 16 plays and Ryan Succop kicked a 21-yard field for a lead that held up through the end of the first quarter.

After punting on their first two possessions, the Saints drove 80 yards on their third possession. Dalton threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Taysom Hill, giving New Orleans a 7-3 advantage.

Those were the first points for the Saints in six quarters after a 13-0 loss at San Francisco last week ended a streak of 332 games without being shut out.

Tampa Bay was in its two-minute offense trying to get points before halftime when Demario Davis intercepted Brady, giving New Orleans the ball at the Bucs 49.

Lutz’s 38-yard field goal with 20 seconds left increased the lead to seven at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Logan Ryan (26) reacts after intercepting the ball against the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs activate S Logan Ryan ahead of ‘MNF’ game

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers activated safety Logan Ryan off injured reserve ahead of their key NFC South game against the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.

Ryan returned to practice Wednesday.

In a corresponding move, the Bucs waived safety Nolan Turner.

Ryan was placed on IR on Oct. 18, 16 days after he sustained a fractured foot in Tampa Bay’s Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Ryan, 31, has recorded nine tackles, one interception and a forced fumble in four games (two starts) this season, his first with Tampa Bay.

The Bucs also elevated cornerback Anthony Chesley and linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III from the practice squad to the active roster for the game. It marks the third elevation of the season for both players.

Tampa Bay safeties Mike Edwards (hamstring) and Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) are doubtful for the game. So is cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad).

The lengthy injury report on Saturday also listed a half dozen players as questionable: tight end Cameron Brate (illness), wide receiver Russell Gage (hamstring), guard Luke Goedeke (foot), running back Leonard Fournette (hip), nose tackle Vita Vea (foot) and defensive end Akiem Hicks (foot).

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) stares at Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) and reacts to a play during the second half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints at Bucs on MNF: Preview, Prop Picks, Prediction

The New Orleans Saints have one more victory this season than the Chicago Bears, who were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday.

Yet, the Saints (4-8) enter Monday night’s game at Tampa Bay just 1 1/2 games behind the Bucs (5-6) in the “race” for the NFC South title.

Top five draft pick or host a playoff game? Both are still in play.

The Bucs are 3.0-point favorites at BetMGM and BetRivers while the spread at DraftKings is 3.5.

The action has been split at BetMGM, with Tampa Bay backed by 67 percent of the spread-line bets but only 45 percent of the money. The action has been much more lopsided at BetRivers, where the Bucs have drawn 67 and 70 percent, respectively.

The slightly larger spread at DraftKings hasn’t deterred the public from backing the Bucs, who have been supported by 67 percent of the total bets and 56 percent of the money.

PROP PICKS
Saints WR Jarvis Landry Under 40.5 Receiving Yards (-115 at BetMGM): This has been the most popular prop bet at the sportsbook. The ninth-year receiver opened the season with seven receptions for 114 yards but has not reached 40 yards in a game since. Landry did miss five games but has not been one of Andy Dalton’s preferred options in three games since returning, totaling eight catches on 14 targets for 90 yards. Tampa Bay enters with the league’s fifth-ranked pass defense.

Under 41.0 Total Points (-110): The market has shifted slightly from 40.5 points at all three sportsbooks. The Saints are coming off a 13-0 loss to San Francisco and managed only one touchdown in a 20-10 home loss to the Bucs in Week 3. Tampa Bay is averaging just 16.9 points over its past seven games — a stretch that has included only two opponents with winning records. The last time these teams met in Tampa, New Orleans walked away with a 9-0 victory last December.

Saints DL Cameron Jordan Over 0.75 Sacks (+160 at DraftKings): New Orleans got to Bucs QB Tom Brady just once in the first meeting, but Tampa Bay will be without star left tackle Tristan Wirfs for the rematch. Jordan is second on the Saints with 5.5 sacks, although he has registered more than a half-sack only three times in 11 games. The 33-year-old has a nonstop motor deep into the season — Jordan closed last year with 8.5 sacks in his final four games, including a pair of sacks against Brady in that Week 14 win.

INJURY REPORT
Saints: Defensive back J.T. Gray (hamstring), tight end Juwan Johnson (ankle), defensive end Payton Turner (ankle) and safety P.J. Williams (knee) are out. The team is hopeful that cornerback Marshon Lattimore (abdomen) will be able to return after missing seven games. He is questionable along with linebacker Pete Werner (ankle), defensive tackle Malcolm Roach (illness), cornerback Bradley Roby (concussion), defensive end Kentavius Street (illness) and wide receiver Kevin White (illness).

Bucs: Along with Wirfs being out, safeties Mike Edwards (hamstring) and Antoine Winfield Jr. (ankle) are doubtful. The lengthy injury report on Saturday also listed a half dozen players as questionable: tight end Cameron Brate (illness), wide receiver Russell Gage (hamstring), guard Luke Goedeke (foot), running back Leonard Fournette (hip), nose tackle Vita Vea (foot) and defensive end Akiem Hicks (foot).

PREDICTION
The past two matchups have been defensive dogfights and this one doesn’t shape up to be any different. The loss of Wirfs is a major blow to the Bucs, but the Saints enter with an even deeper list of impactful injuries and New Orleans’ offense has continued to unravel over the past month. — Bucs 23-16

–Field Level Media

Aug 17, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Logan Ryan (26) warms up during a joint training camp practice against the Tennessee Titans at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park.  Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs S Logan Ryan designated to return from IR

Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Logan Ryan was designated to return from injured reserve on Wednesday.

Ryan was placed on IR on Oct. 18, 16 days after he sustained a fractured foot in Tampa Bay’s Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Wednesday’s move opens a three-week window in which the Buccaneers can activate Ryan or shut him down for the season.

Ryan, 31, has recorded nine tackles, one interception and a forced fumble in four games (two starts) this season, his first with Tampa Bay. He was released in final roster cuts but re-signed to take the roster spot of Ryan Jensen, who was placed on IR with a knee injury.

A two-time Super Bowl winner, Ryan registered a career-best 117 tackles to go with two forced fumbles and one sack in 15 starts with the New York Giants in 2021.

Ryan has 714 tackles, 19 interceptions, 15 forced fumbles and 13 sacks in 144 career games (117 starts) with the New England Patriots (2013-16), Tennessee Titans (2017-19), Giants (2020-21) and Bucs.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs (78) rides off the field after being injured during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs dodges major injury, could return by Christmas

Buccaneers Pro Bowl offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs avoided major injury and could be back on the field by Christmas, NFL Network and FOX reported on Monday.

Wirfs left the stadium in a walking boot to protect his injured left ankle, and tests cleared the massive right tackle of any concern of a knee injury, NFL Network reported.

Early projections for his return are 3-4 weeks, per reports.

The Buccaneers (5-6) play the Saints (4-8), 49ers (7-4) and Bengals (7-4) before a Christmas night game at Arizona (4-8).

Tampa Bay has survived a rash of injuries to the offensive line that began in training camp with center Ryan Jensen (knee).

Teammates feared a significant injury when Wirfs was helped to his locker by trainers following a loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Wirfs logged 68 snaps — 99 percent of the team total — against Cleveland.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) runs with the ball as Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards (32) defends during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Chubb’s TD run lifts Browns over Bucs in OT

Nick Chubb ran for a 3-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left in overtime to give the Cleveland Browns a 23-17 victory Sunday against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The winning run was set up by a 46-yard pass from Jacoby Brissett to Amari Cooper that moved the ball to Tampa Bay’s 3-yard line. Defender Carlton Davis III fell down on the play before Cooper made the reception.

Brissett passed for 210 yards, one TD and one interception in what was likely his final start before Deshaun Watson returns from his suspension.

Cleveland tied it at 17-17 with 32 seconds left in regulation on Brissett’s 12-yard touchdown pass to David Njoku on fourth-and-10 and Cade York’s extra point.

After the teams exchanged punts on the first three possessions of OT, the Browns (4-7) began their winning drive on their own 29 with 2:45 left.

Chubb rushed for 116 yards on 26 carries as the Browns snapped a two-game losing streak. Cooper caught seven passes for 94 yards.

Tom Brady passed for 246 yards and two scores for the Bucs (5-6). Chris Godwin had 12 catches for 110 yards and a TD.

The Buccaneers had taken a 17-10 lead with 7:41 left in the third quarter on Brady’s 5-yard TD pass to Ko Kieft.

Tampa Bay used up only 25 seconds on a possession that resulted in a punt from its own 10-yard line with 2:10 left in regulation. The Browns began their game-tying drive at Tampa Bay’s 46.

The Buccaneers had a two-game winning streak snapped.

Anthony Schwartz took a pitch from Kareem Hunt and ran 31 yards on the reverse to give Cleveland a 7-0 lead at 10:45 of the first quarter.

Brady connected with Godwin on a 10-yard TD pass to level the score with 5:11 left in the first quarter.

York’s 51-yard field goal gave Cleveland a 10-7 edge with 2:22 remaining in the first quarter.

Tampa Bay tied it up again on Ryan Succop’s 42-yard field with 39 seconds left in the first half.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2022; Munich, Germany; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich in the first half against the Seattle Seahawks during an NFL International Series game at Allianz Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Now atop division, Buccaneers look for more success vs. Browns

Coming off their bye week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will return to action — and the United States — when they visit the struggling Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon.

The Buccaneers (5-5) sit atop the NFC South after defeating Seattle 21-16 in Munich on Nov. 13.

Quarterback Tom Brady said Tampa Bay faces “a big, big stretch ahead” as the prepares to face Cleveland.

“This time of year, some teams get worse and stop believing, lose hope,” Brady said Wednesday. “And other teams do the opposite.”

The Browns (3-7), who lost to Buffalo last week in a game moved to Detroit due to severe snow in upstate New York, are trying to avoid losing hope after dropping two straight and six of seven. They trail first-place Baltimore by four games in the AFC North.

Quarterback Jacoby Brissett is expected to make his final start for Cleveland before Deshaun Watson becomes eligible for the Dec. 4 game at Houston.

Watson returned to practice last week for the first time during his 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He faced sexual misconduct allegations stemming from massage therapy sessions but has since reach confidential settlements with a number of the women who filed civil lawsuits against him.

Brissett said he remained focused on this week’s game against Tampa Bay and former New England Patriots teammate Brady.

“I haven’t really thought about the future yet, and honestly don’t want to right now because of how much this week means to me,” Brissett said.

With rain in the forecast for Sunday’s game, Cleveland’s ability to run could be key. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have helped the Browns average 150.9 rushing yards, fifth best in the league.

Tampa Bay’s run defense — which has yielded 116.6 rushing yards per game — includes nose tackle Vita Vea, who did not practice Wednesday due to a foot injury.

“He’s a great player,” Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He’s so physically just big from a measurement standpoint, not just the way he moves his feet. It’s very, very rare to have a guy that size that moves laterally and then is so powerful.”

Brady, understandably, also concerns Stefanski since Tampa Bay’s offense features the fifth-best passing attack (269.8 yards per game).

“He doesn’t take sacks, he doesn’t throw interceptions, throws it at a high level,” Stefanski said of Brady. “He’s on time, accurate.”

Unlike Cleveland, Tampa Bay has struggled to run the ball. The Bucs are last in the league with an average of 70.7 rushing yards, though they ran for 161 in beating the Seahawks.

“We got the win (against Seattle), but we’ve got to do it every week,” Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said. “We have seven games left. We just got to produce and execute every week.”

Tampa bay running back Leonard Fournette (hip) and guard Luke Goedeke (foot) had limited participation in Wednesday’s practice for Tampa Bay. Receiver Russell Gage Jr. (hamstring) did not practice.

An extensive Browns injury report listed nine players who did not practice, including safety D’Anthony Bell (concussion), guard Joel Bitonio (illness/rest), defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney (rest) and Myles Garrett (rest) and tight end David Njoku (ankle/knee). Receiver Amari Cooper was also held out due to rest.

–Field Level Media

Oct 27, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs with the ball against the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Leonard Fournette (hip) expected back after bye

Tampa Bay running back Leonard Fournette is expected to return in Week 12 after leaving Sunday’s game in Munich with a hip pointer, ESPN reported.

The Bucs have a bye this week. They next play at Cleveland on Nov. 27.

Fournette was removed in the fourth quarter of the 21-16 win against the Seattle Seahawks due to the injury.

He rushed 14 times for 57 yards before departing, including a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that put the Buccaneers (5-5) ahead 14-0 at halftime. He caught one pass for 1 yard.

Fournette also threw an interception when he attempted a pass to quarterback Tom Brady on a gadget play in the third quarter.

Fournette, 27, has run for 462 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games this season, his third campaign with the Bucs and sixth in the NFL.

–Field Level Media

Leonard Fournette strides into the end zone for a touchdown in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' win over the Seattle Seahawks in Munich, Germany.

Bucs defense stifles Seahawks in NFL’s Germany debut

Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers held off a late rally to defeat the Seattle Seahawks 21-16 Sunday in Munich, the NFL’s first game played in Germany.

The NFC South-leading Bucs, who entered last in the league with 61 yards rushing per game, exceeded that by 100. Rachaad White rushed for a career-high 105 yards on 22 carries and Leonard Fournette added 57 yards and a TD on 14 attempts.

Brady was 22-of-29 passing for 258 yards, hitting Julio Jones with a 31-yard scoring strike in the second quarter and Chris Godwin from 4 yards early in the fourth.

The Bucs, who snapped a three-game losing streak last week with a 16-13 victory against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, were dominant defensively, allowing 283 yards of total offense.

The NFC West-leading Seahawks (6-4) had a four-game winning streak come to an end. They failed to reach the end zone until Geno Smith’s 21-yard TD pass to Tyler Lockett with 8:20 left. A two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score 21-9.

Brady was picked off by linebacker Cody Barton midway through the fourth quarter, Brady’s first interception in 399 attempts since the season opener. That was three passes shy of the NFL record of 402 held by Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

The interception led to Smith’s 19-yard TD pass to Marquise Goodwin with 3:58 left, pulling the Seahawks within 21-16.

But Brady and the Bucs were able to run out the clock.

After a scoreless first quarter, Brady found Jones and Fournette scored on a 1-yard run to give the Bucs a 14-0 halftime lead. The Seahawks punted on all five of their first-half possessions.

Seattle’s Jason Myers made a 55-yard field goal on the opening drive of the second half.

Smith completed 23 of 33 passes for 275 yards and led the Seahawks with 22 yards rushing. Rookie Kenneth Walker III was limited to 17 yards on 10 carries.

–Field Level Media