That’s right, the team that was 2-6 in the season’s first half has turned things around to get back to 7-7. Detractors can talk all they want about the opponents that the Bucs have beaten in the second half, but the fact remains: they’re beating the teams that they’re supposed to be beating. They haven’t done that very often in recent years.
This one looked to be coming easily through the game’s first 30 minutes. The Bucs took a 21-3 lead into the locker room, but the Lions came roaring back in the second half. They got within 24-17 early in the fourth quarter and had a chance to tie the game a short while later, but Tampa Bay’s defense turned it back on in the game’s final minutes to spark a 14-0 run to finish off another victory.
Like with every other victory during this win streak, there was no shortage of great performances in this game. It’s time to take a look at who earned themselves some Buccaneers of the Week points this time around. But first...
Shaquil Barrett picked up another sack, tying Warren Sapp’s single-season franchise record of 16.5. There’s still two games to play, so Barrett could end up with the record to himself before it’s all said and done... William Gholston had a nice game in his return to the city where he was born. He finished the game with two tackles for loss... Jamel Dean came up with two passes defended to bring his season total to 16... Speaking of passes defended, Carlton Davis added another one to his season total. He now has 18... Ndamukong Suh came up with a clutch sack in the fourth quarter. In total, he had two quarterback hits against his former team... Scotty Miller brought in three passes for 49 yards and his first career touchdown before exiting with an injury... O.J. Howard quietly had a good day, catching four passes for 46 yards.
5. Lavonte David (One point)
The Bucs defense unsurprisingly got a strong performance out of Lavonte David in Sunday’s win over the Lions. He had eight tackles (seven solo) — with two for loss — as well as a pass defended and a forced fumble. The forced fumble was the 20th of his career, which ranks him second in franchise history. He officially moved past Simeon Rice (19) and now sits four behind Derrick Brooks for the team record. David was all over the field on Sunday, laying big hits and coming up with some key tackles when the team need them. It was a typical Lavonte David game, especially when you consider the fact that he would’ve also had an interception if it wasn’t for a Jason Pierre-Paul offsides penalty. The Tampa Bay defense could’ve folded late like it has in the past, but it was leaders like David who kept the unit buzzing. For his efforts, he gets a point in this week’s standings.
4. Chris Godwin (Two points)
Even with Mike Evans — a generational talent — sidelined for the rest of the season, the Bucs still knew who they could count on in his absence. Because truly, Tampa Bay has a second No. 1 receiver in Chris Godwin. On Sunday, he continued to show why he’ll soon get a big payday. He caught five passes for 121 yards in the game, marking his sixth 100-yard game of the season. His yardage total climbed to 1,333 on the year, which is the fourth-most in a single season in franchise history. Unfortunately, Godwin may not get a chance to climb any higher on that list, as he left the game with a hamstring injury. With two games to go and playoffs off the table, he might have the same fate as Evans. Regardless, Godwin came through at every turn this season, solidifying himself as a key component of this offense for the future. With two more points this week, he kept himself atop the Buccaneers of the Week Season Standings. However, if he misses the final two games, he could be in danger of falling out of the No. 1 position, which he has held for most of the year.
3. Sean Murphy-Bunting (Three points)
A major part of Tampa Bay’s second-half surge has been the growth of its young secondary. Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean have stepped up and received a lot of attention, but Sean Murphy-Bunting continues to make his presence felt as well. Sunday was a huge day for the Michigan-born cornerback, as he came through when the Bucs needed him most. With Detroit threatening to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Murphy-Bunting jumped a David Blough pass, picked it off and returned it 70 yards for touchdown. He now has a team-leading three interceptions and his first career touchdown changed the game. Instead of the Lions potentially making it 24-24 with under six minutes left in the game, the pick six made it a 31-17 Bucs lead. From that point on, it was complete domination for Tampa Bay once again. That huge play from Murphy-Bunting was the exclamation point on his homecoming game. He also totaled a team-high eight tackles (all solo). With yet another game-saving interception — just two weeks after he had one in Jacksonville — SMB gets three points and climbs into a tie for seventh position in the season table.
2. Breshad Perriman (Four points)
Talk about stepping up when your number is called. With Mike Evans out, Breshad Perriman had his best game as a pro. He was already coming off of the best two-game stretch of his career, but he took it to another level against the Lions. He was a big part of the offense right from the start, catching an early 22-yard pass before bringing in a 34-yard touchdown catch to give the Bucs an early 7-0 lead. That certainly wasn’t the end though, as he went on to catch five passes for 113 yards and three touchdowns. His three receiving scores tied a franchise record for a single game. This effort came right when the Bucs needed, especially considering Chris Godwin and Scotty Miller both exited with injuries while the receiving corps was already missing Evans. In just a few weeks, Perriman has gone from someone seemingly on the verge of being cut to a key part of the Tampa Bay offense. He picks up four more Bucs of the Week points here, continuing his rapid ascension to sixth for the season.
1. Jameis Winston (Five points)
For the second straight week, Jameis Winston led the way for the Bucs. He was at his very best against Detroit, overcoming an early interception to put together another record-breaking performance. He completed 28 of his 42 passes for 458 yards and four touchdowns en route to piling up some milestone moments. His 221 passing yards in the first quarter were the third-most in an opening quarter over the last 40 years, trailing only Peyton Manning and Jim Kelly. With his third touchdown pass of the game, he broke his own single-season record. His fourth gave him 30 for the season. And later on in the game, Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 450-plus yards in back-to-back games. We’ve seen some of No. 3’s best football over the past couple of weeks, and it has come at a very good time. He has two more weeks to prove that he deserves a new contract, and at this rate, it looks like he’ll get it. Getting the full five points for the second straight week pulls Winston into a first-place tie for the Bucs of the Week Season Standings.
Updated Buccaneers of the Week Standings through Week 15:
1. Chris Godwin/Jameis Winston — 25 points
2. Shaquil Barrett — 21 points
3. Ronald Jones II — 17 points
4. Devin White/Lavonte David — 14 points
5. Mike Evans — 13 points
6. Breshad Perriman — 11 points
7. Jamel Dean/Vita Vea/Sean Murphy-Bunting — 7 points
8. Jordan Whitehead/Carl Nassib — 6 points
9. Vernon Hargreaves III — 5 points
10. Matt Gay/Cameron Brate — 4 points
11. Ryan Smith/Jason Pierre-Paul/Scotty Miller/Carlton Davis/Justin Watson — 3 points
12. Peyton Barber/Alex Cappa/Mike Edwards/O.J. Howard — 2 points
13. Andrew Adams — 1 point