The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking more and more like a team to believe in with each passing week. Lining up this week with a battered Lions team, the Buccaneers did exactly what a good team should do and ran right through them. Let’s dive into some reactions.
Jameis Winston, coming out of a week dealing with injuries to his throwing hand and lower half, had a terrible opening drive that ended with an interception on a pass intended for Ronald Jones. After that interception though... things exploded for the offense in the best way possible. Winston looked very good on the afternoon, finishing 458 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. After the first quarter alone, Winston was up to 221 yards thru the air and had added 2 touchdowns in the books as well. That was good enough for the third-most passing yards in a first quarter by any quarterback in the last 40 years; Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning had 247 on 9/26/04 and Buffalo’s Jim Kelly had 229 on 12/2/1990, per Elias Sports Bureau.
The ground game never got going which was somewhat expected given the injuries to the line up front. Jones finished with one more carry than Peyton Barber ended with 23 yards to Barbers 17 as neither back was able to make much happen. Jones did have a big 23 yard catch and run in this one as well as Barber getting some action in the passing game with 2 receptions for 23 yards.
With Mike Evans out it was again nice to see a steady, spread out attack across the board. Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman each had over 100 yards but it was Perriman who really shined with a career high 3 touchdown catches. O.J. Howard was again involved with 4 grabs and even Scotty Miller put in work with 3 catches of his own. In total, Winston connected with 11 different targets.
The offensive line was without it’s Iron Man, Donovan Smith in this match up and it definitely showed. For all the fan abuse Smith is given, he’s still a far better left tackle than many would like to admit and the team felt it in this one. Winston would only get sacked twice but pressure was there for much of the game. Running lanes were few and far between but with Jameis tossing the pigskin the way he was on Sunday, it luckily didn’t matter.
Shaq Barrett and Ndamukong Suh each notched a sack in this one. Barrett’s sack tied him for the single season franchise record at 16.5 with legend Warren Sapp. Barrett leads the league in sacks and will have every opportunity to re-write Tampa Bay record books this coming Sunday. William Gholston also got into the mix early with a beautiful blow up in the backfield on the lions running back early on.
Lavonte David was all over in this one with 8 tackles and while Devin White didn’t light up the stat sheet, he did recover a fumble that was forced by David late in the game following an offensive touchdown.
The big play on defense in this one had to be Sean Murphy-Bunting and his 70 yard pick 6. Bunting also led the team in tackles with 8 solo. Anthony Adams also had an interception in this one.
I’ve given this staff a lot of flack for player usage, post game comments and in game decisions but I think it’s time to admit that they look like they’ve figured some things out. Sure, several of these wins have come against very poor teams but this is the NFL and you play who you play. The defense has come thru big in recent weeks and the offense has begun to put up some serious points as was expected for a unit with so much talent. With a chance to finish 9-7, the Buccaneers have something to fight for in December. A winning record.