The Buccaneers saw their four-game winning streak come to an unceremonious end Saturday afternoon when they fell 23-20 to the Houston Texans. The loss dropped them to 7-8 ahead of their season finale next Sunday.
The Tampa Bay defense put in a pretty heroic effort against Houston, keeping the team in the game despite four early turnovers and five total. Ultimately, the turnovers proved to be too much to overcome for the Bucs.
Before we look ahead to this Sunday’s season finale, let’s see who took home the Buccaneers of the Week points from the Week 16 loss. But first...
O.J. Howard had a nice first half, totaling three catches for 46 yards... Justin Watson continued to flash his potential on Saturday with five receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown... Tight end Codey McElroy, promoted from the practice squad just a couple of days before the game, caught his lone target for 30 yards to set up the Bucs’ first touchdown of the day... Devin White picked up eight tackles (four solo) and recovered a fumble... Sean Murphy-Bunting came up with his first career sack and first career fumble recovery on the same play to go with four solo tackles and a pass defended... Jamel Dean intercepted Deshaun Watson in the first half, swinging momentum in Tampa Bay’s favor in a big way... Ndamukong Suh racked up 1.5 tackles for loss and a pass defended... Mike Edwards finished the game with four tackles (three solo), with 0.5 going for a loss. He also added a pass defended... Matt Gay made field goals from 50 and 41 yards out in addition to connecting on both of his extra point attempts.
5. Ronald Jones II (One point)
The Bucs have been waiting for Ronald Jones II to break off a long run ever since they drafted him in the second round of the 2018 draft. He nearly did so earlier this season in Los Angeles, but holding penalties cost him TWICE. Well, the wait for an explosive run ended in Saturday’s game with the longest run of Jones’ career, a 49-yarder. He showed plenty of burst, shiftiness and some added toughness on that run, encapsulating what the team sees in him as its top backfield option. The 22-year-old finished the afternoon with 109 total yards (77 rushing, 32 receiving) on 17 touches (14 carries, three catches). His second-quarter rushing touchdown was his sixth of the season. It had been a few weeks since we got a strong game from RoJo, but he picks up a point in the Bucs of the Week Standings this week.
4. Breshad Perriman (Two points)
With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin sidelined with hamstring injuries, Breshad Perriman was slotted into the No. 1 receiver role. For the second straight week, he delivered in a big way by going over the 100-yard mark. He caught seven passes (on 12 targets) for 102 yards to lead the team, averaging 14.6 yards per catch. No, he didn’t find the end zone this week, but he still played a significant role in getting Tampa Bay’s offense off the ground after a slow start. The fact that he stepped up the way he did — with two other-worldly talents out — spoke volumes about the progress he’s made since the season’s first half. He has gone from someone worthy of cutting in the middle of the season to someone who could very well be playing his way into a 2020 roster spot. He gets another two points in this week’s standings to keep his hot streak going — he now has 10 points in the last three weeks.
3. Carlton Davis (Three points)
Carlton Davis scattered five tackles throughout Saturday’s game and failed to come up with a pass defended for the first time since the Oct. 6 loss in New Orleans (from which he was ejected). But while the stat line may not say much, he had a heck of a day for the Buccaneer defense. Tasked with covering one of the game’s best receivers in DeAndre Hopkins, Davis was up to the challenge. He held Hopkins to just five catches for 23 yards on nine targets, which was the worst game in the last three years for the two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowl selection. That’s huge for Davis, whose growth in the last several weeks has given the Bucs plenty to look forward to in the future. Through the first year and a half of his career, it didn’t seem clear if he could hang with the top-level receivers. But he did exactly that against the Texans against one of the best, which has to mean good things for a team that faces the likes of Julio Jones, Michael Thomas and D.J. Moore two times per year. The second-year corner earns three points in this week’s standings, pulling him into a three-way tie in the season table.
2. Jason Pierre-Paul (Four points)
Since returning from a neck fracture earlier this season, Jason Pierre-Paul has been a significant key for the Tampa Bay defense. You can’t measure the leadership he brings to the table, but he provides more than that. He is a presence off the edge that has done wonders for creating opportunities both up the middle for the tackles and on the other side for the likes of Shaquil Barrett and Carl Nassib. The sack numbers haven’t always been there this year, but they were there on Saturday. On a day that saw Barrett held without a sack, Pierre-Paul came through with three. Deshaun Watson isn’t easy to sack, so for JPP to get him three times in one game is an impressive feat. He is up to 6.5 sacks in nine games this season, which will surely complicate the Bucs’ offseason even further. They obviously want to lock Barrett up for the foreseeable future, but might they have to choose between Pierre-Paul and Nassib, who is the younger of the two? Keeping all three would be a massive win, but we’ll see. For now, the veteran pass rusher gets a big four points to pull into a four-way tie for seventh in the season standings.
1. Lavonte David (Five points)
Days after being snubbed from the Pro Bowl yet again, Lavonte David went out and took care of business against Houston. He was vintage Lavonte David all afternoon, flying around and making plays. He led Tampa Bay with 10 tackles (eight solo), with one tackle for loss and a quarterback hit. He was also credited with his 21st career forced fumble, inching him closer to Derrick Brooks’ franchise record of 24. He should’ve had two forced fumbles in the game, but yet another early whistle went against the Bucs and cost them a turnover. Nonetheless, David had a great game and continued to prove why he is one of the most underappreciated players in the entire league. He only has one Pro Bowl and one All-Pro selection in his exceptional career, and that’s a crime. But anyone that pays any attention to the Buccaneers knows how special of a player he is, that’s for sure. He gets the full five points this week and as a result, he pulls into the top three of the season standings with one week to go.
Updated Buccaneers of the Week Standings through Week 16:
1. Chris Godwin/Jameis Winston — 25 points
2. Shaquil Barrett — 21 points
3. Lavonte David — 19 points
4. Ronald Jones II — 18 points
5. Devin White — 14 points
6. Mike Evans/Breshad Perriman — 13 points
7. Jamel Dean/Vita Vea/Sean Murphy-Bunting/Jason Pierre-Paul — 7 points
8. Jordan Whitehead/Carl Nassib/Carlton Davis — 6 points
9. Vernon Hargreaves III — 5 points
10. Matt Gay/Cameron Brate — 4 points
11. Ryan Smith/Scotty Miller/Justin Watson — 3 points
12. Peyton Barber/Alex Cappa/Mike Edwards/O.J. Howard — 2 points
13. Andrew Adams — 1 point