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As it happened

Tom Brady shows off with three TD passes as Buccaneers beat Broncos, 28-10

Tom Brady looks to pass last week.
Tom Brady looks to pass last week.Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

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Quarterback Tom Brady showed off the arm strength and accuracy that won him six Super Bowls with the Patriots in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Brady, whose career record against Denver moves to 9-9, finished with 297 yards, three touchdown passes, and no interceptions in the victory. The Buccaneers are 2-1.

Tampa Bay pulled away late in the second quarter thanks to two 1-yard touchdown passes to receiver Mike Evans on back-to-back possessions. The Broncos entered halftime down 25-10, and wouldn’t score again.

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Brady also had a 47-yard pass to receiver Scotty Miller, his longest this season, and was able to get former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in the mix more than he had in the previous two games.

Gronkowski finished with six catches on seven targets for 48 yards. Before Sunday, he had managed just two catches and 11 yards.

It was Brady’s best performance since Week 13 against the Texans in 2019, when he threw for 326 yards in a 28-22 Patriots loss.

The banged-up Broncos defense – more specifically, defensive end Shelby Harris – managed to get to Brady twice.

Next week, Brady and the Bucs will face off against the Chargers. Raymond James Stadium will host a small amount of fans in Week 4, in preparation for a larger crowd the following week when the Green Bay Packers visit.

Here’s how the game unfolded:

Brady leans on tight ends

After a relatively quiet start to the season for Rob Gronkowski, the former Patriots tight end found some success with his old pal Brady on Sunday.

Gronkowski has been targeted seven times, with six receptions and 48 yards as of midway through the fourth quarter.

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Brady is also getting comfortable with his other Bucs' tight end, OJ Howard, who has three catches for 49 yards – including this dart in the second quarter.

Brady-to-Evans connection grows

Brady connected with stud receiver Mike Evans for a 1-yard touchdown pass with 6:37 to go in the first half, then followed it up with another drive down the field – after the Bucs' defense forced a three-and-out by the Broncos.

He then connected with Evans for his third touchdown pass of the game.

The Bucs take a 23-10 lead into halftime after Jeff Driskel through a TD pass to Tim Patrick as the quarter expired.

Gronk grabs some passes

Rob Gronkowski entered Sunday’s game with just two catches for 11 yards.

He eclipsed that quickly, hauling in two passes for 16 yards on back-to-back plays midway through the first quarter. The first one was good for a first down.

First score

Chris Godwin, who missed Week 2 while working through concussion protocol, grabbed a 10-yard pass from Brady to put the Buccaneers on the board with 10 minutes left to play in the first quarter.

Fans in the stands

For the first time this season, the Buccaneers are playing in front of fans.

The Broncos are allowing 5,700 people in to watch Sunday’s game. They also have a special section for a particularly famous television show based in Colorado:

Yes, that’s an end zone filled with cutouts featuring “South Park” characters.

Brady’s weapons

Receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are both active. Godwin missed last week while working through concussion protocol. Evans was limited in Week 1.

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Tight end Rob Gronkowski is active for the Buccaneers, but his season is off to a disappointing start. He has just two catches for 11 yards.

The Broncos will be without quarterback Drew Lock, who was ruled out on Friday after injuring his throwing shoulder last week. Jeff Driskel will start in his place.


Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.