LOS ANGELES: Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers bounced back in a big way and the Pittsburgh Steelers just kept rolling on Sunday (Monday in Manila) in the National Football League.
Tampa Bay running back Ronald Jones rumbled 98 yards for an epic touchdown as the Bucs rebounded from a humbling defeat with a 46-23 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
The Steelers, with veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at the helm after a Covid-19 scare, improved their unbeaten record to 9-0 with a 36-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Roethlisberger, who missed practice all week after coming in close contact with a teammate who tested positive for Covid-19, threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns without a turnover.
The Bucs were coming off a 38-3 thumping by the New Orleans Saints.
Brady connected on 28 of 39 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns, adding a rushing TD for good measure.
In a game knotted 17-17 at halftime, the Bucs seized control in the third quarter.
They had edged ahead with a field goal shortly after the break.
Pinned at the two-yard line after a punt by Carolina’s Joseph Charlton, the Bucs needed just one play to score again as Brady handed off to Jones, who found a hole in the middle and escaped one tackle attempt before accelerating away from Carolina’s Jeremy Chinn for the longest offensive touchdown in Bucs history.
It was just one yard shy of the longest run in NFL history, which has seen 99-yard rushes by Tony Dorsett in 1982 and Derrick Henry in 2018. The only other 98-yard run ever in the NFL was by Green Bay’s Ahman Green in 2003.
“I’ve got to thank the big guys up front for giving me that push,” Jones said of Tampa Bay’s offensive line. “They made my job look easy.” He said he glanced up at the Jumbotron scoreboard and adjusted his course slightly as Chinn closed in, and felt it when the Panthers defender made a vain dive at his heels.
To make matters worse for the Panthers, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater departed in the fourth quarter with a right knee injury after he was sacked by Jason Pierre-Paul.
The victory moved the Bucs to 7-3 — right behind the division-leading Saints, who improved to 7-2 with a 27-13 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
There was late drama in Arizona, where Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray delivered a desperate 43-yard “Hail Mary” pass to a tightly-covered DeAndre Hopkins with two seconds remaining to lift the hosts to a 32-30 victory over the Buffalo Bills. AFP