Jones stars as Brady's Bucs bounce back against Panthers

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Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady hands the ball off to running back Ronald Jones in the Buccaneers' NFL victory over the Carolina Panthers

Jones stars as Brady's Bucs bounce back against Panthers

Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady hands the ball off to running back Ronald Jones in the Buccaneers' NFL victory over the Carolina Panthers

Tampa Bay running back Ronald Jones rumbled 98 yards for an epic touchdown as the Buccaneers seized control in the third quarter on the way to a 46-23 NFL victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

The Bucs and their superstar quarterback Tom Brady bounced back from a 38-3 thumping by the New Orleans Saints with a victory over another NFC South division rival.

To make matters worse for the Panthers, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater departed in the fourth quarter after he was sacked by Jason Pierre-Paul.

Brady connected on 28 of 39 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns, adding a rushing TD for good measure.

In a game knotted 17-17 at halftime the Bucs seized control in the third quarter.

They had edged ahead with a field goal shortly after the break.

Pinned at the two-yard line after a punt by Carolina's Joseph Charleton, the Bucs needed just one play to score again as Brady handed off to Jones, who found a hole in the middle and escaped one tackle attempt before accelerating away from Carolina's Jeremy Chinn for the longest offensive touchdown in Bucs history.

It was just one yard shy of the longest run in NFL history, which has seen 99-yard rushes by Tony Dorsett in 1982 and Derrick Henry in 2018.

The only other 98-yard run ever in the NFL was by Green Bay's Ahman Green in 2003.

"I've got to thank the big guys up front for giving me that push," Jones said of Tampa's offensive line. They made my job look easy."

He said he glanced up at the Jumbotron scoreboard and adjusted his course slightly as Chinn closed in, and felt it when the Panthers defender made a vain dive at his heels.

"It felt good to finally get that run and give the team a boost," said Jones, who had fumbled on the Bucs' opening drive.

Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champion in 20 years with New England, said he didn't remember being part of a similar play.

"He broke away and he kept going," Brady said. "That was fun. It was great to see the back of that 27 jersey rolling down the field."

The extra point was blocked, but the TD put Tampa Bay up 26-17, and they got the ball back soon after when Pierre-Paul intercepted Bridgewater -- a reversal that ended with a Bucs field goal for a 29-17 lead.

Another field goal from Ryan Succop early in the fourth put Tampa Bay up 32-17.

A 98-yard kick return set the Panthers up for another touchdown, Bridgewater spinning into the end zone for the score.

But the Bucs scored two more TDs, Brady capping the scoring action with a seven-yard touchdown pass to his former New England Patriots teammate Rob Gronkowski.

Brady had connected with Gronkowski on a 44-yard pass in the drive that saw the Bucs level the score with 3:29 left in the first half.

Brady also connected with Cameron Brate and Mike Evans for touchdowns and the Bucs scored on nine straight possessions to wash away the taste of last week's defeat.

In other early action, the Green Bay Packers rallied for a 24-20 victory over the upset-minded Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field.

Trailing 20-17 early in the fourth quarter, the Packers took the lead with nine minutes remaining on Aaron Rodgers's six-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Davante Adams.

The Packers improved to 7-2 while the Jaguars lost their eighth straight game to fall to 1-8.

Rodgers completed 24 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns with one interception and the Packers' defense came up big with two sacks on the Jaguars' final drive.