Tom Brady plays, has sharp streak for Buccaneers



Tom Brady could probably cancel pre-season if he wanted to, but he obviously sees the value in getting some shots before the season starts.

Brady didn’t play much Saturday night for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he looked ready for the season opener.

Brady got a series against the Indianapolis Colts and looked pretty good. He knocked down Mike Evans on one pass but was on target on his other seven. One pass was a bad pass from receiver Tyler Johnson, but Brady completed 6 of 8 passes for 44 yards on what was his only drive. The 45-year-old quarterback might need a few shots, but the Buccaneers weren’t going to expose him too much.

Brady’s best pass came to his new star receiver. He found Julio Jones on a 20-yard strike near the sideline. The throw had good speed and was the biggest play of Brady’s brief outing. Practice ended with a field goal and the Buccaneers let him sit out the rest of the night.

Brady hadn’t played in the first two preseason games. He also took an 11-day sabbatical from training camp, which is odd, but the team fully supported his time off. Brady has appeared in two preseason games in 2021, so it wasn’t all that unusual for him to have playing time before the regular season started.

Brady was able to acclimate to the starting attack. The Bucs ran a lot of non-huddles when he was in the game. He must complete a pass to Jones before the start of the regular season. He came out of the game untouched. It was a productive night.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) pitches Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Flagship team: Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns needed to get a decent look at Jacoby Brissett. He’s going to be their quarterback for a while.

Brissett did not play in the first two preseason games. He also lost a few practice shots at camp to Deshaun Watson. The Browns will roll with Brissett to start the season as Watson begins an 11-game suspension, so he needed some preseason action. It wasn’t great.

Brissett didn’t have much on the court in a 21-20 loss to the Chicago Bears. It was probably a reasonable preview of the Browns’ offense as long as Brissett is starting. Most of his throws were safe and short. Brissett threw an interception, but his intended receiver, Anthony Schwartz, fell on the play after being knocked down.

Brissett played most of the first half and the Browns trailed 21-3 when he was called out. They didn’t enter the board until a field goal with 1:25 left in the second quarter. Brissett was 13 of 23 for 109 yards. That’s a measly 4.7 yards per attempt.

Brissett was absent, even on some finishes. He threw short sticks on a third pass and 11 to David Njoku. He was crazy on a pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones on which the receiver made a nice play for a 4-yard catch. Brissett had a field throw that was pretty well executed in tight coverage, but Anthony Schwartz couldn’t bring it back after getting his hands on it. Brissett’s best throw came late, when he landed a solid drive past David Bell for a 14-yard gain on third-and-10.

The Browns’ starting defense looked good, though they barely played. It stopped Bears running back David Montgomery for a 1-yard loss then no gain, then Justin Fields pitched incomplete on third down. That three-and-one was it for most of the Browns’ starting defensive players.

That’s what the Browns will be, at least until Watson returns. They will play good defense. They will run the ball a lot. And they’ll have Brissett move the chains. Maybe this formula will be better than it was on Saturday night.

Standout players: Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill

The Miami Dolphins probably wanted to make a statement with their first game on Saturday night. Tyreek Hill went deep and Tua Tagovailoa hit him for a 51-yard gain.

The throw is likely to be scrutinized, as a deeper throw leading Hill likely results in a touchdown, but he was more than 50 yards down the field. It was a nice connection. Tagovailoa hit Hill again under it later in the drive, then threw a touchdown to River Cracraft. Tagovailoa completed all three passes on the drive. It was encouraging that two went to Hill, his new No. 1 target.

Tagovailoa was pretty good in Miami’s 48-10 win, even though the Eagles didn’t use any starters. He was 6 of 7 for 121 yards. The Dolphins were leading 17-0 when he took over and Teddy Bridgewater came on as quarterback. It was a good outing for Tagovailoa. The deep pass to Hill is all the Dolphins needed to see before games counted.

other games

Atlanta Falcons 28, Jacksonville Jaguars 12: Neither team played starters. Falcons rookie running back Tyler Allgeier scored two touchdowns but only had 26 yards on eight carries. The star of the rushing game was Caleb Huntley, who had 86 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. The Falcons have some interesting decisions to make at running back when they make final roster cuts.

Cincinnati Bengals 16, Los Angeles Rams 7: Both teams started, which was an even easier decision after controversial joint training this week. There wasn’t much to take from this game, although Bengals backup QB Brandon Allen looked decent with 130 yards on 11 of 15 passes.Tennessee Titans 26, Arizona Cardinals 23: We We don’t know what Titans rookie Malik Willis will be like as an NFL quarterback, but he certainly has the physical skills to stay in the league. He made a 50-yard run look easy when he couldn’t find anyone open and decided to run for it.

Tennessee Titans 26, Arizona Cardinals 23: We don’t know what Titans rookie Malik Willis will be like as an NFL quarterback, but he certainly has the . There wasn’t much to take from this game, although Bengals backup QB Brandon Allen looked decent with 130 yards on 11 of 15 passes. Tennessee Titans 26, Arizona Cardinals 23: We We don’t know what Titans rookie Malik Willis will be like as an NFL quarterback, but he certainly has the physical qualities to stay in the league. He made a 50-yard run look easy when he couldn’t find anyone open and decided to run for it.

Baltimore Ravens 17, Washington Commanders 15: That’s not the biggest issue since the starters didn’t play for either team, but the Ravens probably wanted to see more than one yard on seven rushing attempts in the first half. The Ravens have an uncertain running back situation heading into the season, and Saturday night could add to the concern. And, of course, Baltimore extended its record preseason winning streak to 23.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Denver Broncos: The holders of the two teams did not play. The Broncos barely played against a key player the entire preseason and some Vikings starters barely played in Game 1 before retiring the rest of the preseason (10 starters did not play at all). Both teams’ first-year head coaches are placing more emphasis on staying healthy before the regular season begins.

Final Thoughts

• Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields had a productive night, but mostly against substitutes.

The Bears started with a three-and-out but Fields immediately put up a nice drive after most of the Browns’ starting defense had settled down. He completed all five passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.

He added two more touchdowns later, one to Dante Pettis and another to tight end Cole Kmet. Fields went 14 of 16 for 156 yards and three touchdowns.

The fields looked good. Even though it wasn’t against the Browns’ best defense, it was still a positive way to exit the preseason.

• In a perfect world, Titans rookie Treylon Burks would have been sitting with the other Titans starters on Saturday night, but at least he ended the preseason on a high. He had a 14-yard touchdown catch. Burks struggled to climb the depth chart before the season, but the first-round pick could still be a factor this season.

• Falcons rookie QB Desmond Ridder got most of the game. He went 14 of 21 for 185 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. While a pick was a desperate pass to end the first half, the first was a bad call in midfield.

Ridder needs work, but he showed enough in the preseason that the Falcons should always be intrigued by his future.

• The Dolphins should be able to run the ball this season. New coach Mike McDaniel comes from the Kyle Shanahan tree, and the Shanahans have always had good running games. The Dolphins had big nights from Raheem Mostert, Sony Michel, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed (starter Chase Edmonds didn’t play). Midway through the third quarter, when more backs started to work, those four had totaled 113 yards on 17 carries. Each backstroke averaged at least 6.5 meters per stroke. The Eagles didn’t care much about the preseason finale, but Miami should be able to handle it well this season.