LAS VEGAS — Tom Brady dropped back and lofted a pass that just got over the defender’s arms and fell into Scotty Miller’s hands right before he reached the sideline for a 33-yard touchdown.
The 43-year-old Brady is getting back to his Super Bowl-winning form following an early season adjustment to his new team in Tampa Bay.
Brady threw four touchdown passes to move past Drew Brees for the most in NFL history and ran for another to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 45-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
“We’re 5-2, in a decent place, not quite at the halfway point in the year,” Brady said. “We’ve got a lot of football left. We’re going to need everybody, and we’re going to need everybody’s best. And we’re going to expect everybody’s best and we’re going to try to meet the challenge every week.”
Brady finished 33 for 45 for 369 yards, while also running for Tampa Bay’s first score on a 1-yard sneak in the first quarter. He has 15 TD passes and one interception the past five games.
“I think it’s knowing the guys better, knowing the system better, everything that we change each week,” coach Bruce Arians said. “There’s such good communication of what we’re trying to get done, where the ball should be going versus each coverage. It’s just total growth in the offense.”
Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski in the second quarter, then delivered his best pass of the day to Miller in the final minute of the first half. He then helped seal the game with the throw to Chris Godwin that put the Bucs up, 31-20, over the Raiders (3-3) midway through the fourth quarter.
Brady added a fourth to rookie Tyler Johnson with 3:08 to play to give him 559 in his career, passing Brees for the most ever. Brees threw two earlier in the day for New Orleans.
Now Brady could be getting even more help when Antonio Brown joins the team following next week’s game.
“He’s a tremendous football player,” Brady said. “I played with him for a brief period of time. I’m looking forward to working with him again and see what role he can come in (and play).”
The 4-yard pass to Godwin was part of a key stretch when it appeared the Raiders were in position for a comeback after cutting the deficit to 24-17 on Derek Carr’s second TD pass of the game.
The Raiders got a stop, and were driving for the potential tying score before coming up 1 yard short of a first down on a third-and-4 pass to Darren Waller. Coach Jon Gruden opted for a field goal to make it 24-20.
Brady then engineered another TD drive, and the Bucs (5-2) put it away when Carr threw an interception on Las Vegas' next play to set up Ronald Jones’s 1-yard run.
Carr went 24 for 36 for 284 yards, two TDs and one interception as the Raiders were unable to build on a big win at Kansas City before the bye after being without their starting offensive line all week in practice.
Starting right tackle Trent Brown tested positive for COVID-19 and four other starting linemen were sent home Wednesday because they had “high-risk” contact with Brown and didn’t rejoin the team until Sunday morning.
One of them, guard Gabe Jackson, was ejected in the third quarter after Carr’s 1-yard TD pass to Waller that cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 24-17. The officials determined that Jackson stepped on an opponent’s shoulder during a scrum after the play and he was ejected.
“I’m not going to use any excuses, we can’t,” Carr said. “We’re in a production-oriented business. The miscommunication, absolutely, it took place. It’s a game of practice, it really is. You got to be available, not just for Sundays, you got to be available all throughout the week cause there’s so much information that goes into it.”
Brady connected with Gronkowski for the second straight week, with a 5-yard TD pass in the second quarter. That’s the 92nd time those two teamed up on a TD pass in the regular season or playoffs, tying the duo of Steve Young and Jerry Rice for the second most ever. Only Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison have more with 114.
Below are updates as posted by the Globe staff during the game.
Fourth quarter: Buccaneers 45, Raiders 20
Tyler Johnson caught Brady’s fourth touchdown pass of the game as the Bucs continue to pour it on in their showdown with the Raiders. A six-play drive that started on the Las Vegas 32 was capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass play with 3:08 left.
It was Brady’s 559th touchdown pass, moving Brady one ahead of the Saints' Drew Brees for the lead on the career touchdown pass list . Brees threw two touchdown passes for New Orleans earlier in the day.
Fourth quarter: Buccaneers 38, Raiders 20
An interception by Antoine Winfield Jr. gave the Bucs the ball just outside the red zone, and Tampa Bay needed just two plays – a 23-yard pass to Chris Godwin and a 1-yard touchdown run by Ronald Jones – to pick up another touchdown with 6:38 left.
The Buccaneers scored twice in less than a minute.
Fourth quarter: Buccaneers 31, Raiders 20
Brady found Chris Godwin in the end zone with a 4-yard touchdown pass to make it a two-score game with 7:22 left.
The Bucs caught a break after misfiring on a third-down pass play because a pass interference penalty gave them a new set of downs at the 40. Brady continued a steady drive, one that consumed 11 plays and 5:21 on the clock, highlighted by 12-yard pass play to Scott Miller on third-and-4.
Brady has passed for 323 yards and three touchdowns at this point.
Fourth quarter: Buccaneers 24, Raiders 20
A Daniel Carlson 36-yard field goal helped the Raiders inch closer with 12:43 left in the fourth.
A methodical 11-play drive that began on their own 29 was stopped at the Tampa Bay 17 when the Raiders could not convert on third-and-4.
Third quarter: Buccaneers 24, Raiders 17
The Raiders have cut into Tampa Bay’s lead on a 1-yard touchdown pass play from Derek Carr to Darren Waller with 4:15 left in the quarter.
The key play was a 44-yard strike from Derek Carr to Nelson Agholor that put the Raiders on the Tampa Bay 3-yard line.
Third quarter: Buccaneers 24, Raiders 10
Ryan Succop kicked a 29-yard field goal to pad Tampa Bay’s lead with 8:16 left in the third after Brady led a 10-play drive that stalled at the Raiders' 11. Brady hit Scott Miller on two key passes, one for 35 yards and another for 10 yards on third-and-12 that made the field goal try a bit shorter.
Miller now has five receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Halftime: Buccaneers 21, Raiders 10
Brady hit Scott Miller on a 33-yard touchdown pass play with 17 seconds left to pad the Tampa Bay lead just before halftime. The play capped a 13-play drive that covered 88 yards in 2:02.
Brady has hit 18 of 26 passes for 205 yards.
Raiders QB Derek Carr has connected on 12 of 17 passes for 165 yards.
The Raiders haven’t done much on the ground, managing just 24 yards on 11 carries. The Buccaneers' duo of Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones has been effective on the ground, with Fournette gaining 33 yards on five carries and Jones gaining 31 yards on seven rushes.
Second quarter: Buccaneers 14, Raiders 10
A pair of Brady to Rob Gronkowski passes were the keys on a Tampa Bay scoring drive to regain the lead.
Brady’s 26-yard pass to Gronkowski put the Bucs at the Las Vegas 4, then Brady connected with Gronkowski on second-and-goal to take a 14-10 lead with 4:26 left before halftime.
The drive, highlighted by a 24-yard run by Leonard Fournette and a 16-yard reception by Chris Godwin, covered 85 yards in eight plays and 4:32.
Second quarter: Raiders 10, Bucs 7
An 11-play drive put the Raiders back on top. Las Vegas’s possession stalled at the Tampa Bay 24, and Daniel Carlson converted a 42-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 10-7 lead. The big play was a catch-and-run by Henry Ruggs III for 29 yards on third-and-4.
First quarter: Buccaneers tie it
One of Brady’s trademark plays – the quarterback sneak – evened things up with 5:41 left in the first quarter. Brady dove into the end zone on third-and-goal to cap a 10-play drive.
Brady completed four passes on the drive, including a key pickup of 22 yards to tight end Rob Gronkowski, who fumbled at the end of the play but recovered the ball himself.
First quarter: Raiders take early lead
After going three-and-out on their first possession, the Bucs punted and the Raiders began a touchdown drive on their own 30.
Nelson Agholor, who caught a 28-yard pass on the drive, hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to give Las Vegas a 7-0 lead. The drive took six plays and lasted 3:37.
All-clear for Raiders
From The Associated Press: The Raiders will be able to play four of their starting offensive linemen Sunday against Tampa Bay after they got one more day of negative tests for COVID-19.
A person familiar with the results says Kolton Miller, Denzelle Good, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson all tested negative in results gotten back Sunday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the results haven’t been released.
The four players have tested negative every day since they had a “high risk” close contact Monday with tackle Trent Brown before he tested positive for the coronavirus.
The four missed practice Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and a walkthrough on Saturday, but will be able to play against the Buccaneers. With Brown still on the COVID-19 list, the fifth starter is expected to be Sam Young.
Safety Johnathan Abram, who last had contact with Brown on Tuesday, must wait one more day before he can be cleared to return and will miss the game.