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Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars recap: Stacking wins

Tampa Bay jumped out to a 25-0 lead in the first half and held on in the second to win back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Buccaneers made the short trip to Jacksonville this week looking to do what they haven’t been able to do once this year — win back-to-back games. They beat the Panthers, then lost to the Giants. They beat the Rams, then lost to the Saints. They beat the Cardinals, then lost to the Saints again. So, Sunday’s game against the Jaguars was as big of a game as there could be for one 4-7 team taking on another 4-7 team.

Tampa Bay came in as 2.5-point favorites in this one, thanks in large part to its a top-five scoring offense coming up against Jacksonville’s struggling defense. Plus, the young Buccaneer defense, which made some strides in last week’s win, was getting a shot at an offense that hasn’t looked the same since Gardner Minshew was benched for a returning Nick Foles. Add all of that together and it looked like things were pointing in the right direction for the Bucs to pick up their first-ever win in Jacksonville.

Tampa Bay did just that, using a dominant first half that included three turnovers and a defensive touchdown to cruise to a 28-11 victory. At long last, the Bucs did what Bruce Arians has been talking about doing all year... They stacked wins together.

The Jaguars won the coin toss and deferred, meaning Jameis Winston and the Bucs offense would get the game’ first possession. Winston converted on a couple of early third downs with passes to Mike Evans, getting across midfield before a third-down miss. On 4th & 17 from the 41, Tampa Bay opted to punt. Bradley Pinion’s kick went for a touchback, setting up Nick Foles and the Jacksonville offense at the 20.

The Jaguars faced a quick 3rd & 4 before Foles found Dede Westbrook for a gain of 39 yards. Westbrook beat Carlton Davis on the play, getting down to the Tampa Bay 36-yard line. On 2nd & 6 from the 32, the Buccaneer defense came up big. With pressure closing in on Foles, he threw over the middle — right to Devin White — for an interception. Upon confirmation by replay, White had his first career interception.

Going from the 31, the Bucs went to Breshad Perriman on the first play of the drive for a six-yard gain. After a short run by Ronald Jones II set up a 3rd & 2, Peyton Barber came in and picked up seven on his first carry. A couple of plays later, Winston looked to Perriman again and he hauled the pass in, but was ruled to have only gotten one foot down. Bruce Arians threw the challenge flag and it was 100% clear that Perriman dragged the second foot in, so the reversal gave the Bucs 13 yards and a third-down conversion.

On the next play, Winston went to O.J. Howard for a gain of 25 yards to the Jacksonville 15. What followed was a 15-yard touchdown run by Barber and a successful PAT from Matt Gay to give Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. It was an eight-play, 69-yard drive by the offense to capitalize on White’s interception.

Foles looked to D.J. Chark on the first play of the ensuing drive, but Davis got some mojo back with a nice pass breakup. Yet another splash play followed, with Shaquil Barrett getting to Foles for a sack-fumble, which was recovered by White and returned 14 yards for a defensive score.

The sack brought Barrett to 13.5 on the year, three shy of Warren Sapp’s single-season franchise record, and the touchdown was the first of White’s career. With a penalty on the extra point attempt, the Bucs opted to go for two and successfully converted with a Barber run up the middle. The Tampa Bay lead was extended to 15-0 with 2:39 left in the first quarter.

The defense forced a 3rd & 3, but the Jaguars converted with a 20-yard pass to Chris Conley. A 13-yard catch and run by Leonard Fournette got Jacksonville to the Tampa Bay 35 before a Jason Pierre-Paul tackle for loss ended the quarter with the Bucs on top by a score of 15-0.

Fournette got going to start the second quarter, gaining 10 and later seven to get inside the red zone. But on 2nd & 9 from the 11, the Tampa Bay defense struck again. Carl Nassib got to Foles for another strip-sack, with the ball being recovered by Ndamukong Suh this time. The turnover was Foles’ third in the first 18:40 of the game, which had the Jacksonville crowd calling for a quarterback change.

The Bucs didn’t get much on first or second down of the following drive, but they converted yet another third down with a 32-yard pass from Winston to Perriman down the sideline. A pass interference call on A.J. Bouye moved the ball up another 20 yards to the Jacksonville 28 before a brief scare. Winston looked to Evans again and the pass went off a defender and Evans before turning into what was initially ruled an interception. But after a review, the call was overturned because the ball hit the ground. Instead of a back-breaking interception, it was just an incompletion.

On the next play, Winston found Chris Godwin on a screen that ended up as a 27-yard gain to the 1-yard line. On second down from the 1, Barber got in for his second touchdown of the game. Gay’s extra point made it a 22-0 Bucs lead with 7:58 left in the first half. That made it 22 points off of Jacksonville turnovers.

Foles remained in the game for the Jaguars, and their drive went nowhere. William Gholston came up with a tackle for loss before White got one of his own on a screen to Fournette. An incompletion on third down led to more boos from the home crowd in Jacksonville.

After the punt, the Bucs took over from their own 32. Barber had some more success on the ground, gaining eight yards on two carries to bring up a 3rd & short. Winston converted his sixth third down in seven tries on the next play, finding Cameron Brate for a five-yard gain. A great catch by Evans near the sideline a few plays later looked to have given the Bucs another third-down conversion, but after a Doug Marrone challenge, it was ruled incomplete because Evans’ second foot came down on Bouye’s leg before going out of bounds.

Pinion’s punt was caught for a fair catch at the 21, but an illegal blindside block backed the Jaguars up to their own 11 with 3:23 left in the half. They only went backward from there, with an intentional grounding call on second down being the biggest reason why. After a check-down on third down, Jacksonville punted again.

A 30-yard pass from Winston to Perriman put the Bucs in good position again, then another solid catch by Godwin pushed the drive to the 11. But from there, the offense stalled. That led to a 25-yard field goal by Gay to extend the lead to 25-0 with 57 seconds left in the second quarter.

Jacksonville’s offensive woes continued on its next drive, which somehow gave Tampa Bay another shot in the first half. Winston and Howard connected for a nice 22-yard gain, but a holding penalty later set the offense back. Nonetheless, the Bucs took a 25-0 lead into the locker room.

Jacksonville started the second half on offense, and much to the delight of the crowd, rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew took the field in place of Nick Foles. But the initial returns were more of the same, as a couple of penalties pushed the Jaguars back to 3rd & 23 from their own 12 before they eventually had to punt.

Moving from their own 40, the Bucs got across midfield quickly. Winston found Howard on 2nd & 11 to bring up a third-and-short situation, but it took a quarterback sneak on 4th & 1 to keep the drive alive. Winston then scrambled for a 16-yard gain to the 33, but a sack-fumble thwarted any hope of extending the 25-point lead. He spun out of a potential sack before getting hit from behind to force the ball loose.

Jacksonville, starting from its own 36, started moving on the next drive. A 17-yard catch and run by Chark was followed by a 15-yard gain on a pass to Westbrook. But things quickly stalled at the Tampa Bay 30 thanks to heavy pressure from White on third down. A false start pushed Josh Lambo’s field goal attempt back five yards, but it didn’t matter. He connected on a 53-yarder to get Jacksonville on the board, closing the gap to 25-3.

Barber got the Bucs to 3rd & short on their next drive before Winston found Perriman again for another first down. A Donovan Smith holding call then negated a nine-yard run by Barber, backing Tampa Bay up to a 1st & 20. After a four-yard gain by Godwin, Winston hit Evans for a 25-yard gain to Jacksonville’s 43. He looked to Evans again for another five on the next play before an illegal shift backed things up again.

Tampa Bay eventually got to a 4th & 4 at the 37 and rather than attempting the field goal, Arians opted to go for it. That turned out just as badly as it could have, with Winston getting sacked at the 46 to give Jacksonville great field position. A 17-yard pass from Minshew to Conley ended the third quarter with the Bucs up 25-3.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Minshew hit Chark for a 30-yard gain to the 7-yard line. Two plays later, Minshew hit Westbrook for a three-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion made it 25-11 with 13:37 to go.

The Buccaneer offense continued to sputter on its next drive, with back-to-back runs by Barber setting up 3rd & 4 before Winston was sacked for the fourth time. And it got worse for Tampa Bay, as Pinion’s 58-yard punt was returned 43 yards by Westbrook to the Bucs’ 37.

The defense nearly stepped up by forcing a quick 3rd & 10, but Minshew converted it with a 13-yard pass to Conley. Three plays later, the Bucs got enough pressure to force a third-down incompletion. But on 4th & 5, Minshew delivered again, hitting Keelan Cole for 11 yards to the 8.

The Jaguars eventually faced another fourth down, this time at the 5-yard line, and got another set of downs thanks to a pass interference call on Lavonte David. But after a second-down pass breakup by White, the Bucs got their fourth turnover of the day on third down. Rookie Sean Murphy-Bunting intercepted Minshew on a deflection, marking his second career pick.

Murphy-Bunting unwisely brought the ball out of the end zone on the interception, putting the offense in a tough spot. Barber had nowhere to go, Demar Dotson got called for a false start and Winston threw incomplete on third down to bring Pinion on to punt. Another 58-yard bomb from Pinion and an illegal block above the waist penalty pushed Jacksonville back to its own 30.

Down 14 with 4:45 to go, the Jaguars started their drive with a holding penalty to back them up even further. Vita Vea pushed the line on 2nd & 14 and Barrett cleaned it up to bring his sack total to 14.5 on the year. A couple of plays later, White came up with another stop on Fournette to get the ball back to Winston and the offense.

Tampa Bay was content to drain some clock on the following drive, running the ball a few times to set up a 37-yard field goal by Gay. With 2:19 to go, the Bucs held a 28-11 lead.

The Jaguars didn’t have much fight left from there, as a fourth down sack by Sam Acho got the ball back to Tampa Bay for a few kneel-downs. By the time the clock struck triple zeroes, Tampa Bay had won 28-11 and picked up back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

Quick Stats

  • The Bucs scored 22 points off of turnovers in the first half, which was the biggest difference in the game.
  • Tampa Bay outgained Jacksonville 250-105 in the first half, holding the ball for 18:04 of the first 30 minutes. Overall, the Bucs outgained the Jags 315-242 and held possession for 33:32 of the game’s 60 minutes.
  • The Buccaneer offense converted six of its first seven third downs to start the game. It finished just 7-of-17.
  • Jameis Winston finished the game 21-of-33 for 268 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions, though he did lose a fumble.
  • Breshad Perriman was the team’s leading receiver, catching five passes for a career-high 87 yards.
  • O.J. Howard had himself a nice afternoon, hauling in five of his six targets for 61 yards.
  • Peyton Barber became the first Buc since himself to run for two touchdowns in a game. He last did it on Nov. 26, 2017.
  • Devin White’s touchdown was the third fumble returned for a touchdown by the Bucs this season, which tied a single-season record (1992, 2005, 2017).
  • With 14.5 sacks through the first 12 games, Shaquil Barrett is just 2.5 away from breaking Warren Sapp’s single-season franchise record of 16.5, which was set in 2000.
  • Bradley Pinion punted four times for an average of 48.3 yards per punt.

The Buccaneers (5-7) return to Raymond James Stadium next Sunday (Dec. 8) to host the Indianapolis Colts (6-6). Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.