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Buccaneers of the Week: at Seahawks

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Which five players were Tampa Bay’s best in Sunday’s 40-34 overtime loss to Seattle?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers hit the road Sunday for a tough road matchup against a playoff team in one of the toughest environments in the game. They really put up an impressive fight against the NFC Wild Card-leading Seahawks, but they ultimately fell short in a 40-34 overtime loss.

The secondary couldn’t contain MVP candidate Russell Wilson or the wide receiver duo of Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. That was really the difference. Tampa Bay didn’t have the guys to hang with Seattle’s passing attack, but made it to overtime anyway. From there, though, the defense — combined with the NFL’s overtime rules — prevented the Buccaneer offense from even seeing the field after their game-tying score late in the fourth quarter.

With their fourth straight loss, the Bucs dropped to 2-6. There’s no real end in sight, as this certainly looks like another lost year for a franchise that has known nothing but lost years since 2007 (outside of two winning seasons where it missed out on the playoffs anyway).

But it wasn’t all bad on Sunday. You don’t hang around with the Seahawks IN Seattle without some great performances. So, let’s see who gets the points in this week’s Buccaneers of the Week Standings, shall we? But first...

Honorable Mentions

Jason Pierre-Paul was very difficult to leave out of the top five this week, as he finished with three tackles, a half of a sack and three quarterback hits. The Bucs also upped his snap count in just his second week back from a neck fracture. He played 72 of the team’s 75 snaps (96% of the defense’s total)... Vita Vea was his usual Vita Vea self, creating pressure up the middle and totaling three tackles (one solo) and a quarterback hit.

5. Lavonte David (One point)

There aren’t many weeks where Lavonte David isn’t deserving of at least an honorable mention for these standings. The veteran linebacker cracks the top five after Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, thanks to what was a very good game. He finished with nine tackles (seven solo), a sack (his first of the year) and two total tackles for loss. The 29-year-old matched the play of Seattle’s Bobby Wagner in what was a matchup of two of the league’s premier linebackers.

David, per usual, anchored the Buccaneer defense throughout the game. He may not have finished as the top tackler this week, but his steady presence in the middle of the defense can’t be overstated. Even in what was a rough overall performance for the defense, David managed to shine. He’s had one heck of a career to this point, and even if he is largely overlooked on a national scale, those who follow Tampa Bay know just how valuable he has been year in and year out. He takes home one point in this week’s standings to hold firm in the top five for the season.

4. Devin White (Two points)

No. 5 overall pick Devin White finally broke out in Sunday’s game. The former LSU Tiger finished as the Bucs’ leading tackler, racking up 12 (six solo), half of a sack, two quarterback hits and two forced fumbles (one of which was recovered by Tampa Bay). White did pick up an unfortunate pass interference call that led to a Seahawk touchdown late in the first half, but he had a very good game otherwise. It was by far the best game of his young NFL career, as he showed some nice glimpses of what the Bucs drafted him for.

With the two forced fumbles this week, White should have three total within the last two weeks if not for the officiating mishap in Tennessee. Regardless, White looks to be getting more comfortable in the league and should be due for a big second half. With a full eight games left in his rookie season, expect to see more of what we saw against Seattle. White is a star in the making, which is why any “bust” talk is absolutely erroneous. With his breakout performance this week, he takes home his first two points in the Bucs of the Week Standings.

3. Ronald Jones II (Three points)

All year long, Ronald Jones II has been Tampa Bay’s best running back. And all year long, everyone has been calling for him to be the No. 1 guy. He got his chance on Sunday, getting 18 carries to Peyton Barber’s four. On those 18 carries, Jones went for 67 yards and a touchdown in addition to catching both of his targets for 15 yards. Those aren’t game-breaking numbers, but it’s an indication that the second-year back is ready to take on a bigger workload.

Going forward, it sure looks like Jones will get his chance to be the lead guy. Bruce Arians announced Monday that the 2018 second-round pick will be the starting running back going forward. After a rookie season that was a complete letdown, Jones has been a huge positive this year. With the season all but thrown away at this point, No. 27 is one guy that will be worth watching closely the rest of the way. He’ll get the chance to continuing proving himself as someone who deserves a prominent role heading into 2020 and beyond. For now, he grabs another three points to keep himself in the top three in the season standings.

2. Jameis Winston (Four points)

When he turned the ball over six times in London, Jameis Winston — rightfully — received a ton of criticism. For many, that game was the LAST last straw as far as their belief in him as Tampa Bay’s starting quarterback. He followed that game with a four-turnover performance in Tennessee last week, and despite the fact that none of the four turnovers were his fault, he caught even more heat. No matter which way you spin those four turnovers, the first seven games of the season hadn’t yielded a clear answer to the question about Winston’s future.

But then came Sunday. Yes, the Bucs lost again. But Jameis Winston wasn’t anywhere close to the reason why. He completed 29 of his 44 pass attempts for 335 yards and two touchdowns. His lone turnover — a fumble — came as a result of his own left tackle hitting him in the elbow to knock the ball loose. Winston had a heck of a game in a hostile environment, keeping the Bucs in the ball game against potentual NFL MVP Russell Wilson. He should’ve had more than just the two touchdowns, too, as he had a three-play stretch that somehow didn’t get them a score. Winston threw a catchable ball to Tanner Hudson in the end zone that fell incomplete, Scotty Miller ran out of bounds and didn’t reestablish himself to cost the team another score and a holding call on Demar Dotson negated a 20-yard rushing touchdown by Winston.

Simply put, Winston balled out on Sunday. His future may be unclear. But if he keeps having performances like he did on Sunday, he may just mess around and earn a contract extension after all.

1. Mike Evans (Five points)

For the second straight week, the Buccaneers of the Week Standings have Mike Evans at the very top. His early-season inconsistencies seem like a distant memory after these last two seasons. In Sunday’s loss, Evans torched the Seahawks. He hauled in a career-high 12 passes (on 16 targets) for 180 yards and a touchdown. The 26-year-old is now second in the league in receiving yards (842) and tied for the lead in touchdown catches (seven). He has been himself in the last two weeks, getting back to being the top-five receiver that he has been his whole career.

Evans is on the verge of breaking the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth time in his six NFL seasons. He’s been the definition of consistent throughout his career, providing the Bucs with a versatile threat that can break free and make an impact at any given moment. His ability to take over a game never gets old, and that’s exactly what he did Sunday. The Seahawks tried to run man-to-man on him, but to no avail. He exposed that secondary even when they knew he was getting the ball. Evans became the first player in team history to record 150+ receiving yards in back-to-back games while posting his 24th career 100-yard receiving game. With that, he takes home another full five points in the season standings.

Updated Buccaneers of the Week Standings through Week 9:

1. Chris Godwin — 18 points

2. Shaquil Barrett — 15 points

3. Ronald Jones II/Jameis Winston — 14 points

4. Mike Evans — 13 points

5. Lavonte David — 9 points

6. Jordan Whitehead/Carl Nassib — 6 points

7. Vernon Hargreaves III — 5 points

8. Sean Murphy-Bunting/Ryan Smith/Vita Vea/Jason Pierre-Paul — 3 points

9. Peyton Barber/Alex Cappa/Devin White — 2 points

10. Matt Gay/Andrew Adams — 1 point