Brock Purdy threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score in his first career start and San Francisco’s vaunted defense spoiled Tom Brady’s return to the Bay Area with a 35-7 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif.
Purdy outplaying the NFL’s most accomplished quarterback ever was partially overshadowed by another key injury for the 49ers (9-4).
A week after losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a broken left foot that opened the door for Purdy to start, the Niners lost star receiver Deebo Samuel to a suspected high ankle injury that forced him to be taken off the field in tears on a cart. That was about the only thing that didn’t go right, as the 49ers thoroughly dominated Brady and the Bucs (6-7) to win their sixth straight game.
Purdy’s first start got off to a painful start when he was flattened on a blitz by Keanu Neal on a play that was ruled roughing the passer. The last pick in the 2022 draft got right back up and led the Niners to one of five touchdown drives on their first seven possessions, capped when Samuel scored on a 13-yard run.
Samuel’s leg buckled as he fumbled the ball on a carry late in the second quarter, an emotional scene that saw dozens of his teammates come on the field to wish him well before he was taken away on a cart with his head in his hands.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game that Samuel didn’t break any bones, but could be sidelined for several weeks.
“It was definitely concerning on the field,” defensive end Nick Bosa said. “It looked pretty bad. I hope that he’s all right. He’s tough as hell. He tried to walk off. I’m just hoping for the best.”
San Francisco already led, 21-0, at that point, with Purdy having scored on a 2-yard run and a 27-yard TD pass to Christian McCaffrey.
He capped a near-perfect first half with a 32-yard TD pass to Brandon Aiyuk, joining Don Strock (1975) as the only players to throw at least two scores and run for another in the first half of their first career start, according to Sportradar.
Purdy finished 16 for 21 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
McCaffrey, who ran for 119 yards, added a TD on the ground with a 38-yard run after Brady was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson on the first drive of the third quarter.
Brady, playing just the second road game against his favorite team while growing up in nearby San Mateo, was intercepted again on the next possession by Dre Greenlaw and didn’t lead the Bucs to a score until a deflected TD pass to Russell Gage late in the third quarter.
Brady finished 34 for 55 for 253 yards with one TD and the two interceptions.
Despite the lackluster performance, the Bucs still have a one-game lead over Atlanta and Carolina in the NFC South and are in line for a home playoff game if they close it out.
Chargers 23, Dolphins 17 — Justin Herbert threw for 367 yards and a touchdown, and a shorthanded defense got the best of Tua Tagovailoa as host Los Angeles (7-6) moved ahead of the Jets for the final AFC playoff berth. Herbert completed a career-high 39 passes on 51 attempts for his 21st 300-yard game. Tyreek Hill scored two touchdowns for Miami (8-5), one of them on an improbable recovery of Jeff Wilson Jr.’s fumble that Hill took 57 yards to the end zone, but Tagovailoa had his worst game as an NFL starter, completing 10 of 28 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown. The Chargers held Miami to 219 yards. Mike Williams, who had missed four of the last five games with a high ankle sprain, had six catches for 116 yards for the Chargers, including a 10-yard touchdown.
Jaguars 36, Titans 22 — Trevor Lawrence threw for a career-high 368 yards and three touchdowns, plus ran for a score, and Jacksonville (5-8) won at Tennessee (7-6) for the first time since 2013. The Jaguars had four sacks and turned four turnovers into 20 points — three for 17 in the first half. Down, 14-7, they scored 29 straight pand have won two of three. Jaguars tight end Evan Engram caught 11 passes for a career-high 162 yards and had two TD receptions. The Titans (7-6) lost their third straight, matching their longest skid since coach Mike Vrabel’s opening season in 2018. Derrick Henry ran for 96 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter but didn’t do much after that, finishing with 121 yards on 17 carries.
Cowboys 27, Texans 23 — In Arlington, Texas, Ezekiel Elliott scored the go-ahead touchdown with 41 seconds remaining and Dallas (10-3) avoided a major upset with an 11-play, 98-yard drive that lasted just two minutes, 39 seconds. Houston (1-11-1) appeared in position to end a seven-game losing streak after Dak Prescott’s interception inside the Dallas 10 with 5:37 to go, but the Cowboys stuffed backup quarterback Jeff Driskel on a fourth-down run from the 3-yard line to get the ball back. Tony Pollard scored twice for Dallas, giving him 12 touchdowns — one more than the combined total of his first three seasons.
Bengals 23, Browns 10 — Joe Burrow shook off a 9 for 21 first half to throw two touchdown passes and Cincinnati (9-4) ended its five-game skid to its Ohio rival. They remained tied for the AFC North lead with Baltimore. Deshaun Watson (26 of 42 for 276 yards) was sharper than in his debut with Cleveland (5-8) last week and threw his first touchdown pass in 707 days, a 13-yarder to David Njoku in the third quarter, but also threw a fourth-quarter interception and couldn’t hook up with Donovan Peoples-Jones on a late fourth-and-goal from the 6 that would have made it a one-score game. For the Bengals, Ja’Marr Chase had 10 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown in his second game back since missing a month with a hip fracture. Joe Mixon, who missed the last two games with a concussion, rushed for 96 yards.
Chiefs 34, Broncos 28 — L’Jarius Sneed intercepted backup quarterback Brett Rypien late in the fourth quarter, and Patrick Mahomes atoned for a three-interception day by leading Kansas City (10-3) on a clock-chewing drive to beat host Denver (3-10), which made a game of it by scoring three touchdowns in a 3½-minute stretch spanning halftime after falling behind 27-0. Mahomes threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, including a no-look hook pass on one of Jerick McKinnon’s two TD receptions. Jerry Jeudy caught three touchdown passes for the Broncos, the last one from Rypien after Russell Wilson took a hard hit on a 14-yard scramble to the Kansas City 2 early in the fourth quarter. Wilson was escorted off the field and the Broncos ruled him out with a concussion shortly thereafter.
Ravens 16, Steelers 14 — J.K. Dobbins ran for 120 yards and a touchdown in his return from a knee injury, helping Baltimore (9-4) end a four-game losing streak to host Pittsburgh (5-8) despite losing backup quarterback Tyler Huntley to concussion protocol in the second half. The Steelers also lost their quarterback, Kenny Pickett, to protocol. Baltimore ran for 215 yards, as undrafted rookie free agent Anthony Brown essentially spent most of his quarter-plus of play handing off to Dobbins or Gus Edwards while the Steelers self-destructed. Their backup Mitch Trubisky, who was benched in favor of Pickett in early October, threw three interceptions in Baltimore territory to thwart potential scoring drives.
Eagles 48, Giants 22 — In East Rutherford, N.J., Jalen Hurts threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as NFL-best Philadelphia (12-1) scored on its first three possessions and punched its ticket to the playoffs. Hurts improved his MVP credentials by throwing for 217 yards and running for 77, highlighted by a 10-yard TD scamper late in the third quarter. He led touchdown drives of 84 and 91 yards to begin the game. Miles Sanders ran for 144 yards and scored on runs of 3 and 40 yards as the Eagles handed New York (7-5-1) its worst loss under first-year coach Brian Daboll. Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor threw touchdown passes for the Giants, who have one win in their last six games. The Eagles finished with seven sacks, including three by Brandon Graham.
Panthers 30, Seahawks 24 — Sam Darnold threw for one touchdown, Chuba Hubbard and Raheem Blackshear both had rushing TDs, and Carolina (5-8) won for the third time in four games and controls its own destiny in the muddled NFC South race. Darnold and Carolina built leads of 17-0 and 20-7 to take advantage of a sloppy, unenthusiastic first-half performance by host Seattle (7-6), which couldn’t stop the trio of Hubbard, Blackshear, and D’Onta Foreman — they rushed for 180 of the Panthers’ 223 yards on the ground. Seattle struggled with the pressures brought by the Panthers defense, and Geno Smith (21 of 36 for 264 yards) was sacked three times as he made mistakes he’s avoided most of the season.