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Bucs vs Browns: Winners and losers

Former Brown Carl Nassib provided a boost to Tampa Bay’s shorthanded defensive line on Sunday.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carl Nassib had his best game as a Buccaneer, and possibly his NFL career, in the win over his former team.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers held on in the second half and overtime to defeat the Cleveland Browns, 26-23. The Buccaneers went up 16-2 after the opening half and it seemed to get to their heads a bit.

Cleveland outscored Tampa Bay 21-7 in the second half before the Bucs were finally able to put them away late in overtime. Jameis Winston almost gave the game away with an interception in Buccaneer territory with 6:22 to play in the overtime period. However, Tampa Bay’s defense stepped up and forced a three and out.

Mark Duffner’s unit will have another challenge on the road against big-play threats like A.J. Green and Joe Mixon when they travel to Cincinnati.


1. Mike Evans

Mike Evans was Jameis Winston’s main target on Sunday and he made the most of his opportunities to record his best game since week three. Evans caught seven passes for 107 yards after recording a total of 10 catches for 117 yards in losses to Chicago and Atlanta.

The fifth-year receiver was money on third down, catching three passes on multiple drives that helped continue possessions. Winston and Evans will look to continue their connection against a Cincinnati defense that has allowed 300.7 passing yards per game (No. 29 in the NFL).

2. Carl Nassib

The former Cleveland Brown had arguably the best game of his career in Sunday’s win. After never recording more than one sack in a game, Nassib was able to bring down Baker Mayfield twice.

Both of his sacks were crucial plays to stall Cleveland drives. Nassib brought down Mayfield on third and seven late in the first half to force a punt. His second sack came on third down with just a few minutes left in overtime after Winston’s interception. Cleveland was forced to punt and the Bucs offense did the rest.

However, I thought Nassib’s most impressive play of the game came in the second quarter. He covered Nick Chubb in the flat, read Mayfield’s eyes, and made an athletic play on the ball to force a deflection. He’ll be a valuable rotation player going forward for Tampa Bay.

3. Ronald Jones

Though the stat line wasn’t pretty (six carries for 13 yards), you have to give credit to the rookie running back for battling back from a tough preseason and getting back into the rotation.

Jones has held down Tampa Bay’s second running back spot over the past three games and could see even more action going forward if Peyton Barber’s injury is serious. Barber didn’t practice Wednesday.

The former USC star scored the Buccaneers first rushing touchdown by a running back against Cleveland. It was also the first touchdown of his professional career.


1. Linebackers

Tampa Bay’s thin linebacking corps took another hit in the win against the Browns. The heart and soul of the defense, Kwon Alexander, tore his ACL against Cleveland. He’ll miss the rest of the season with the injury.

Rookie linebacker Jack Cichy also tore his ACL while trying to make a tackle on a kickoff. He’ll miss the rest of the season as well after being placed on injured reserve.

It’ll be up to Lavonte David and whatever Tampa Bay can wrestle up to salvage this units performance as the second half of the season moves on.

2. Cameron Brate

Cameron Brate has already seen fewer snaps after OJ Howard’s swift return from injury. Now, he’s in jeopardy of playing even less after his performance against Cleveland.

Brate had a bad fumble deep in Tampa Bay territory as the end of the first half neared. It was recovered by Cleveland but the Buccaneers defense was able to stop them on downs.

Howard has out-touched Brate 9-4 over the last two weeks.

3. Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston makes his first appearance on the losers list despite being instrumental in Tampa Bay’s win over Cleveland. He made some big-time throws and some even bigger runs in unlikely situations.

However, Winston also tossed two interceptions and fumbled twice, losing one. It’s the third straight game since Winston’s return that he has thrown two interceptions and the second straight game where he’s fumbled twice.

The former Florida State star has thrown five touchdowns to six interceptions in his three appearances. He’ll look to right the wrong against one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL.