Heading into last Sunday’s matchup with the Rams, most of the attention was focused on Aaron Donald and the defending NFC champs. Make no mistake, there was plenty of logic behind all of it.
No one really talked about Tampa Bay, specifically, Jameis Winston. I guess it’s common knowledge that he had to have a
good very good game if the Bucs even wanted a shot at winning, but still - even when eyes were on the Bucs, most of the focus surrounded Tampa Bay’s offensive line, secondary, and kicking game.
Winston healed the blind on Sunday as he torched the Rams for close to 400 yards and four touchdowns, while leading his team to a 55-40 road win.
He put on such a show that it made me wonder if the game against the Rams is in fact his best game, ever.
Before Sunday, Winston had thrown four or more touchdowns four different times in his career. Three of those games were against the Falcons (represent).
- 2015 vs. Philadelphia: 19/29 (65.5%), 246 yards, 5TD. He finished with a QBR rating of 93.8, according to ESPN.
- 2016 vs. Atlanta: 23/32 (71.8%), 281 yards, 4TD 1INT. He finished with a QBR rating of 91.2, according to ESPN.
- 2018 vs. Atlanta (10/14): 30/41 (73.1%), 395 yards, 4TD 2INT. He finished with a QBR rating of 63.4, according to ESPN.
- 2018 vs. Atlanta (12/30): 22/35 (62.9%), 345 yards, 4TD 1INT. He finished with a QBR rating of 81.5, according to ESPN.
Winston’s final stat line against the Rams was right in line with the aforementioned examples. He finished 28/41 (68.3%) for 385 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. His QBR rating (89.5) was the fourth-highest of his career.
The stat lines are similar, minus a few differences here and there. Said differences won’t really sink or swim one’s defense when it comes to picking the best performance, but there are other factors that benefit the central idea of this post.
An argument that could sway one’s opinion would be Winston’s opponent at the time. When you consider the fact that three of the above teams had losing records (the 2016 Falcons game was the season-opener) at the time of kickoff and the Rams were 3-0 before losing to Tampa Bay, it helps close the gap - if not elevate Sunday’s performance above the rest - numbers-wise due to the fact that Winston played well against tougher competition.
The Rams were the fourth-best team in terms of overall defensive DVOA before they played the Bucs. Opposing quarterbacks had combined for just 578 net passing yards and one touchdown through the air against the Rams.
Philadelphia finished 17th in defensive DVOA in 2015. The Falcons finished 26th in 2016 and 31st in 2017. It’s not like they were some stalwart, stout defenses that couldn’t be penetrated.
Winston also went head-to-head with one of the all-time great defensive coordinators in Wade Phillips. Known for employing sophisticated and effective defenses, Phillips’ defenses often make life hell for opposing quarterbacks. Winston moved through the secondary with ease, pretty much hitting every target on the money - outside of the pick-six.
And speaking of “on the money”, the fifth-year quarterback made some clutch throws on Sunday. There are a lot to choose from. The first that comes to mind is the 12-yard strike to Mike Evans that converted a 3rd-and-6 on the first drive after the pick-six. How about the perfectly-thrown 67-yard bomb to Evans to give the Bucs a 44-27 lead with a little over 11:30 to go? Or one of the dozen completions to Chris Godwin?
The pick-six certainly hurts the case for the best game. No matter how you spin it, Winston shouldn’t have thrown that ball. The Rams were in zone and the corner Marcus Peters had safety help over the top. Bobo Wilson was running what looked to be a go route, so unless Winston planned on him just running by everyone (which wouldn’t have happened, by the way), then there was no reason to throw that ball in his direction.
What do you think? Was this the best game of Winston’s career? Let us know below!
Was this the best game of Jameis Winston’s career?
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