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Buccaneers of the Week: vs. Carolina

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Which five players were Tampa Bay’s best in Sunday’s 24-17 home win over the Panthers?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers beat the Panthers 24-17 on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium to pick up their second straight win. The victory got them to 5-7 on the year, which keeps them on the edge of the playoff conversation for at least another week. A lot would have to go right for Tampa Bay to make its way into the postseason for the first time since 2007, but for now, it’s just nice to see the team playing some pretty good football.

Plenty of guys stepped up in Sunday’s win. Let’s take a look at our Buccaneers of the Week.

5. Jason Pierre-Paul (One point)

Jason Pierre-Paul always seems to make a play or two that impacts the game in a positive way for the Bucs. It’s something that Tampa Bay has probably gotten used to now that the veteran defensive end has been with the team for almost a full season. In Sunday’s game, he came up with a fourth-quarter sack to continue the defense’s big day. He finished the day with that sack, an additional quarterback hit and three tackles overall. His leadership on the defensive line has led to a big step forward for the unit as a whole, especially since the departure of Mike Smith earlier this season.

With his crucial sack of Cam Newton in this week’s victory, JPP brought his 2018 sack total to 11 1/2, which ties him for fourth-most in the NFL. The Buccaneer record is 16 1/2, set by Warren Sapp in 2000. It would take a couple of multi-sack games down the stretch for Pierre-Paul to beat that mark, but his season can be considered a success regardless. He picks up another point in this week’s standings to keep his spot near the top of the overall 2018 rankings.

4. Chris Godwin (Two points)

With his third career 100-yard receiving game, Chris Godwin could have been higher on this list. In terms of the standings, it was just unlucky for the second-year pro that so many other guys stepped up in the win over the Panthers. Tampa Bay’s passing game has been a strength this season, despite the turnovers, and Godwin has been a huge part of that. In Sunday’s game, he caught five of his six targets for 101 yards and a touchdown. His 48-yard catch on a slant route in the second quarter set the Bucs up in prime position to extend their lead, but a Peyton Barber fumble stalled momentum. Either way, Godwin showed once again on Sunday why he was such a steal in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

What Sunday also did was prove even further that Tampa Bay has someone that can easily be a No. 2 wide receiver for the foreseeable future. With DeSean Jackson failing to find much chemistry with either Buccaneer quarterback these days (plus his attitude likely becoming a problem in the locker room), it would make sense for the team to move on from the veteran this offseason. If and when they do so, the front office can rest comfortably in knowing what it has in Godwin. The Penn State product is up to 49 catches for 676 yards and five touchdowns this season. He earns two points in this week’s standings, moving him up in the top 10 overall.

3. Lavonte David (Three points)

The Bucs were surely glad to have Lavonte David back from injury this week. The veteran linebacker made an immediate impact in the game, stopping Cam Newton for a short gain on the very first play before tipping a pass that led to an interception two plays later. He then ended the first quarter with a sack of Newton. Overall, David led the team with 12 tackles (10 solo), a sack and a pass defended. He was instrumental in getting the Buccaneer defense off the field throughout the day.

Tampa Bay was without Brent Grimes, Vernon Hargreaves III, Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart in the secondary on Sunday. Those guys are the top four corners on the team. Without them, the Bucs absolutely needed the front seven to step up against a Panther offense that has the ability to be very dangerous. Overall, that front seven came through. Much of the credit belongs to David, who kept Newton and honest throughout the day. A lot of what No. 54 does often seems to go unnoticed, but he is a consistent plus for the Tampa Bay defense. In his first week back in action after an injury, he did enough to take home three points in this week’s standings.

2. Jameis Winston (Four points)

Tampa Bay’s back-to-back wins have a lot to do with the play of Jameis Winston. Throughout his career and especially a lot of this season, the 24-year-old quarterback has been known for making poor decisions with the ball. He is looked at league-wide as a talented player, but one who has a damaging tendency to be a turnover machine. He was benched for it earlier this season, but since coming back from that, he has been much better with the ball. He threw one interception against the Giants, though it was on a desperation deep ball late in the game. Since that throw, he has played two clean games. Those two mistake-free games produced two victories.

In the first half of Sunday’s win over Carolina, Winston was clicking. He threw two touchdown passes to help Tampa Bay get out to a 10-point halftime lead. The offense stalled a bit more in the second half, but he still managed the group well and took care of the ball. He finished the day 20-of-30 for 249 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. His second touchdown pass gave him the franchise record for passing scores in a career. He was also the Bucs’ leading rusher, adding 48 yards on just five carries. The 2013 Heisman Trophy Winner has been very good in the last two weeks, leading to hope that he has finally turned a corner. For playing another clean game and breaking a franchise record, Winston earns four points in this week’s standings to pull him into a tie for fourth overall.

1. Andrew Adams (Five points)

Carl Nassib’s two sacks against the Browns earlier this season gave us an odd No. 1 in our Buccaneers of the Week Standings. In a similar way, we get another seemingly-random guy at the top of this week’s list. Sunday belonged to Tampa Bay safety Andrew Adams. The 26-year-old out of UConn might not have been very familiar to many in the fan base before this week, but his THREE interceptions of Cam Newton will earn him plenty of love. He had help from a tip by Lavonte David and two big quarterback pressures by Gerald McCoy, but it was just the fourth time in team history that a player came up with three interceptions in a single game. Ronde Barber did it twice before Aqib Talib did it in 2009. Regardless of what comes next, Adams has his name etched in Buccaneer history forever.

Sunday’s breakout day for Adams was just another example of why sports are so great. A guy that is largely unknown can become a hot topic around an entire league within just a few hours. The former New York Giant stepped up in a major way, especially considering the state of Tampa Bay’s secondary. If the Bucs somehow make the playoffs this season, Adams will deserve a lot of credit for making it possible. He debuts in these standings this week at the very top, earning five points for an unforgettable performance.

Updated Buccaneers of the Week Standings through week 13:

  1. Mike Evans— 23 points
  2. Jason Pierre-Paul— 22 points
  3. Ryan Fitzpatrick— 17 points
  4. (TIE) Peyton Barber/Jameis Winston— 16 points
  5. (TIE) Carl Nassib/Lavonte David— 12 points
  6. DeSean Jackson— 11 points
  7. O.J. Howard— 8 points
  8. Chris Godwin— 7 points
  9. (TIE) Kwon Alexander/Chandler Catanzaro/Adam Humphries— 6 points
  10. Andrew Adams— 5 points
  11. (TIE) Vita Vea/Cameron Brate— 3 points
  12. (TIE) Offensive Line/Jacquizz Rodgers— 2 points
  13. (TIE) Vernon Hargreaves/Bryan Anger/Carlton Davis— 1 point