News & Analysis

NFL Week 4 PFF ReFocused: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38, Los Angeles Chargers 31

The 43-year-old Tom Brady went toe-to-toe with the 22-year-old Justin Herbert in this showdown between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Chargers. Things got off to a bit of a surprising start, with the young L.A. signal-caller leading the underdogs to a 24-7 lead in the first half of play, but in the end, the veteran once again reminded us why he should never be counted out, as Brady led the Buccaneers to a comeback 38-31 win over Herbert’s Chargers.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

STORY OF THE GAME

Herbert came out of the gate firing for the Chargers. After the Buccaneers strung together a 10-play opening touchdown drive, Herbert delivered a 50-yard big-time throw on just his fourth play of the afternoon, ultimately tying the game 7-7.

Herbert continued that aggressive start throughout the game and really impressed under pressure. The rookie quarterback looked like a seasoned vet when he was put under duress, connecting on nine of his 10 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns — both of which were big-time throws. That equates to 18.2 yards per attempt and a perfect 158.3 passer rating.

Herbert and the Chargers found themselves trailing by 7 points with just under 3 minutes to go in the game, and there were very few bones to pick with how the first-round quarterback was playing at the time. While he did lead a relatively conservative offense — with a 7.5-yard average depth of target entering that final drive — he had just a couple of quarterback-fault incompletions and was throwing catchable passes seemingly at will. Then, on that final drive, the rookie let go of an awful interception, posting his first turnover-worthy play of the game and sealing the win for the Buccaneers.

Father Tom once again had another strong day that featured four big-time throws. He has now posted at least three big-time throws in every game as a Buccaneer, which is the first time in his NFL career in the PFF era in which he has started a season with at least three big-time throws in each of his first four games played.

It was a tale of two halves for Brady. In the first half, Brady completed just four of his 11 10-plus-yard throws for 57 yards, one score and a pick-six. Brady completed 7-of-8 pass attempts for 197 yards and two touchdowns on those same throws in the second half. This was just one more example of why no one should ever count Brady out after an underwhelming first-half display.

ROOKIE WATCH

Buccaneers starting right tackle Tristan Wirfs didn’t do much in the run game, but he did an excellent job protecting Brady from one of the NFL’s best edge rushers in Joey Bosa. Wirfs allowed just two pressures all game long and played a big part in Bosa posting his lowest pressure rate in a single game since Week 4 of 2017.

After starting his first season strong and finishing Week 3 as the NFL’s fifth-highest-graded rookie, Antoine Winfield Jr. had a game in Week 4 that will likely move him off that spot. He was partially responsible for that 50-plus yard touchdown pass from Herbert to Tyron Johnson in the first quarter, and he then gave up a 17-yard completion near the end of the second half. In addition, the rookie safety failed to record a single stop all game long after recording multiple in each of his first three games played.

Once Austin Ekeler went down with an injury early on, rookie Joshua Kelley was called on to step up in his absence, and the former UDFA had a game to forget. He recorded just 5 rushing yards on nine attempts, with one of those carries being a lost fumble at his 9-yard line with under a minute to go in the first half. That set up Tampa Bay to put up 7 more points on the scoreboard before the half ended, cutting Los Angeles’ lead to 10 in what would turn out to be a game-changing moment.

The second Chargers’ first-round pick, Kenneth Murray, had a nice day from a run-defense perspective. The off-ball linebacker recorded five tackles on 27 run-defense snaps, with three being considered a run stop and one of those being a tackle for loss. Murray struggled in coverage, though, as he didn’t have a single passing stop on 42 coverage snaps and was responsible for two first downs allowed.

ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats 2.0.

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