The Tampa Bay Buccaneers jumped to 2-1 by beating the New York Giants on a last-second field goal. A few things went wrong during the game, but a 25-23 win is still a win—and we have plenty of good and bad things to talk about. So let’s do that!
Winston had his best game of the season, and perhaps one of the best games of his career. Three touchdowns, no turnovers, one sack, 8.7 yards per attempt—really good numbers, and a quality performance.
The starkest difference with previous weeks were the explosive plays: a 54-yard touchdown to O.J. Howard, a 32-yard throw to Mike Evans, a 35-yarder to Cameron Brate and a 38-yarder to Adam Humpries. All of that spreading the ball around saw four Bucs players top 60 receiving yards on the day, too.
Winston’s performance isn’t a fluke, either. While he still has some holes in his game (too turnover-prone, poor deep ball), he’s much more accurate and productive this season. So far he’s completing over 63% of his passes for 8 yards per attempt—a significant step forward over the 60.8% and 7.2 yards per pass last year.
When Odell Beckham Jr. was being covered by Vernon Hargreaves, he feasted. When he was being covered by Brent Grimes, he was being shut down. The Bucs sorely missed Grimes last week, and his return helped the Bucs survive against an explosive Giants passing game. Grimes had five tackles and three pass breakups, all of them spectacular.
Bryan Anger/special teams
The Bucs have one of the best punters in the NFL in Bryan Anger, and he had yet another very good game. He had two punts downed inside the 20-yard line, including this beauty, and a whopper of a 62-yard punt. In a close game, the ability to consistently pin opponents deep and flip field position is a real difference-maker.
McCoy destroyed the Giants offensive line, especially early in the game. He started off with two tackles for loss, and Pro Football Focus counted four pressures on the day. He hit Manning hard a bunch of times, and would have done so a lot more often had the referees remembered that holding is not a thing offensive linemen are allowed to do.
Doug Martin returns on Thursday night, but Jacquizz Rodgers lobbied for continued playing time on Sunday. With 17 carries for 83 yards, including a 36-yard scamper, Rodgers was consistently productive and the Bucs offensive line managed to open up holes for him.
The offensive line
Speaking of the offensive line, they had a very good game. They mostly kept Jameis Winston clean, only allowing one sack, and led the way for Rodgers. Donovan Smith had one of his good games too, allowing only one pressure per Pro Football Focus.
Two missed field goals, a missed extra point, and a nearly-shanked game-winning field goal. Not a great game for a kicker, there. This shouldn’t be enough to get rid of Folk—misses and bad games happen and dont’ warrant immediate panic. But the Bucs may want to orient themselves on free agent kickers.
One upside: Giants kicker Aldrick Rosas also missed one of his two field goals, and didn’t look great. Maybe the rain did a number on the field and this was the result?
DeSean Jackson’s getting open deep, but Jameis Winston just can’t seem to connect with him. The two even have problems connecting on fairly standard, short routes. The result was just two catches for 20 yards, and a visibly frustrated Jackson. And rightly so: the lack of production really hasn’t been his fault.
Hopefully, the Bucs can get him and Winston on the same page soon. Mostly, Winston needs to find a way to throw a better deep ball.
It’s only year two, but Vernon Hargreaves isn’t looking like a first-round cornerback. He’s consistently giving up catches, and doesn’t even come close to breaking up passes. Odell Beckham Jr. made him look silly on multiple occasions, and the Bucs will struggle to consistently win games if this is the best Hargreaves has to offer.
Of course, he still has plenty of time to get better. Adjusting to the NFL is not easy for cornerbacks, especially short ones.