Finally. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers actually won a game since Week 2.
I know what you’re thinking - but they beat the Browns, Evan.
Did they really, though? Tampa Bay did everything in their power to lose that game.
Semantics aside, the Bucs played well enough on both sides of the ball en route to a nice 27-9 win over the 49ers.
No turnovers and a steady defense were key. How will that reflect in this week’s final grades?
Let’s go ahead and start with the obvious: Jameis Winston’s performance.
While this should be the floor for Winston every week, it was still nice to see him come out and take care of business against an inferior opponent. Especially after being benched a month ago after the Cincinnati game.
What impressed me the most was his ability to move around in the pocket. The work he has put in over the offseason has clearly showed and it is helping him extend plays. Just look at the Adam Humphries touchdown. Winston made that play happen with his mobility, there is no doubt about that.
Jameis scrambles to find a wide open Humphries who fights for the TD! pic.twitter.com/hJGQSDSQjH— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 25, 2018
Now on the other side, a lot of his ability to extend plays had to do with breakdowns in pass protection. Once Demar Dotson went out with an injury, it was clear Tampa Bay was at a disadvantage up front. At the end of the day, they made it work, though.
Here’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d type again for the rest of the year: the Bucs had zero turnovers on the day. It’s amazing what they can do when they don’t put themselves behind the 8-ball, isn’t it?
Tampa Bay also amassed over 100 yards on the ground, but they only averaged about 3.5 yards per carry. They were 7/13 on third down, recorded 25 first downs, and went 2/2 in goal-to-go situations.
Penalties were still an issue, though. Ryan Jensen committed an idiotic unnecessary roughness penalty in the first quarter that really stalled the drive. Tampa Bay cannot do that against good teams if they expect to win.
In all, it was a solid day by the offense.
Final Grade: 3.5 (B+)
Aside from allowing Matt Breida to run wild, the defense played very well on Sunday.
Carl Nassib continues to develop into a solid pass rusher and Jason Pierre-Paul eclipsed double-digit sacks on the season after taking Nick Mullens down in the second quarter. Even Gerald McCoy got in on the fun.
The defense held Mullens to just 25 passing yards in the first half, but he was able to find success in the second half. He ended up with 194 on the day, which is still a good number for the defense.
Mullens also threw two (omg, turnovers!) interceptions. One was picked off by Ryan Smith in the end zone and the other by Isaiah Johnson. Both interceptions came in the fourth quarter as San Francisco was attempting a comeback.
Ryan Smith picks it off in the end zone! pic.twitter.com/q2l2gZpzrU— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 25, 2018
The Bucs allowed just one third down conversion on the entire day and either forced a punt or turnover on 8/11 drives.
And don’t forget about the goal-line stand. The Bucs were up 13-6 and the 49ers had just taken the ball down inside the one-yard line. Tampa Bay was able to stuff both Breida and Mullens, forcing San Francisco into a 4th-and-goal from the one.
Joe Staley then committed a false start that forced the 49ers into a field goal attempt. It was a major momentum swing.
But we can’t finish this up without discussing the run defense. They couldn’t stop Breida for their collective lives. The talented back finished with 106 yards on 14 carries and the 49ers ran for 148 as a team.
Breida’s 7.6 yards per carry and the team’s 6.2 yards per clip are worrisome considering the rushing attacks they are set to face over these last five weeks. This needs to get fixed quickly.
Final Grade: 3.0 (B)
I almost don’t want to mention this because I’m afraid I’ll jinx it.
Screw it. THANK YOU SWEET BABY JESUS FOR CAIRO SANTOS!!
Santos nailed both of his field goal attempts on the day and both were a major factor in helping the Bucs extend their lead. He also made all of his extra point attempts and is perfect on the season so far.
Bryan Anger did his thing punting the ball and the coverage units performed well.
Final Grade: 4.0 (A)
It’s tough to grade out a coaching job during a game that you should win. Tampa Bay got the victory, but there were still some moments where you were trying to figure out what this staff was really doing.
13 of Peyton Barber’s 18 runs came on first down. This has not been the norm this season as the Bucs have been more prone to pass on first down. Add that with the lack of execution on the ground and it makes you wonder what was going on.
The defensive game plan was solid, but the 49ers were able to take advantage of a lot of wide-open receivers and a porous run defense.
This staff will be under the microscope for the rest of the year, but at least they took some heat off of themselves this week.
Final Grade: 2.5 (C+)
Overall Grade: 3.13 (B)
It was a solid performance, but could’ve used some work. The goal line stand, Winston’s performance, and the lack of turnovers are major building blocks for this team.
The only question that remains is can they build off this win?