One way or another, the Buccaneers were going to end their season on Sunday. They’ve known for weeks that they would be missing the playoffs for the 12th straight season, but a .500 finish and second place in the NFC South were still on the line when they welcomed the Falcons to Raymond James Stadium.
Despite a second-quarter run that gave them a 22-16 lead at halftime, the Bucs just couldn’t hold on. Third-down failures and missed field goals put the Tampa Bay defense in a bad spot, allowing for two Atlanta field goals to tie the game before the end of regulation.
Then, on the first play of overtime, Jameis Winston ended the season as only Jameis Winston could. He threw his 30th interception — giving him the NFL’s first 30-30 season ever — and seventh pick six of the season — an NFL record. The Falcons won 28-22, sending the Bucs to a third-place finish at 7-9.
Despite the crushing end to 2019, there was still plenty of good in the game. Plenty of Bucs broke franchise records, including Winston himself. So, let’s get to it with our final installment of Buccaneers of the Week for this season. We’ll get to the top five in a minute. But first...
Winston may have thrown the game-ending pick six and tossed another interception earlier in the game, but he gets a mention here for becoming the eighth quarterback in NFL history and the first Buc to throw for 5,000 yards in a season. He finished the year as the league’s passing leader, putting up 5,109... Lavonte David had a nice finish to the season, making some nice plays all over the field en route to six tackles (five solo)... Carlton Davis put the finishing touches on what ended up being a pretty good season, picking up six tackles (five solo), a tackle for loss and a pass defended... William Gholston totaled four tackles (all solo), a pass defended and two quarterback hits in the season finale... Vita Vea notched a sack in the final game of his second season... Ndamukong Suh had a strong finale as well, posting a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and two passes defended.
5. Ronald Jones II (One point)
After a fumble on his first carry of the game and just four yards on two carries in the first half, Ronald Jones II put together a memorable performance. A big third quarter resulted in his first career 100-yard rushing game and the first by a Tampa Bay running back since last November. In total, he ran for 106 yards on 11 carries and caught two passes for 10 yards. The Bucs inexplicably went back to Peyton Barber at one point in the fourth quarter when they needed to burn some clock and it eventually backfired. Nonetheless, Jones finished his sophomore season on a strong note. His 2019 season was a major improvement over his rookie year, so it’ll be interesting to see how he figures into the team’s plans for 2020 and beyond. With one point this week, he finishes in a third-place tie in the Buccaneers of the Week Season Standings. Not bad for a guy who failed to pick up one point in 2018.
4. Devin White (Two points)
It’s a shame that illness and injury slowed the first part of Devin White’s rookie season. He really came on strong over the final two and a half months of the year, developing into a key part of what turned out to be an improved defense. On Sunday, he put an exclamation on his first year as a pro in the form of a fumble recovery that he turned into a 91-yard touchdown. With the score, he became the first rookie to score two fumble recovery touchdowns in a season since 1970. It was a huge play for Tampa Bay, as it swung momentum and gave the team its first lead of the game just after a Winston interception. Plays like that are part of what made the defense so much fun to watch in the second half of the season, and it made sense that White was in the center of it. He’ll be huge for the Bucs going forward. His debut season ends with him in a fourth-place tie in the Bucs of the Week Season Standings.
3. Breshad Perriman (Three points)
What a resurgence it was for Breshad Perriman at the end of this season. It wasn’t long ago that fans were calling for him to be cut for a compensatory draft pick. Instead of going that route, the Bucs kept their faith in him. He only responded by putting up 506 yards and five touchdowns in the final five games of the season. In Sunday’s loss, he had a monster first half, catching five passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin out, Perriman once again had to be the team’s No. 1 receiver. He was exactly that on a day where the offense struggled. It was his third straight 100-yard game, which tied him for the second-longest streak in franchise history. After the game, the former UCF receiver said he would like to return to Tampa in 2020. And you know what? If the money is reasonable, he should be back. The trio of Evans, Godwin and this Perriman can be dangerous no matter who the quarterback is.
2. Jason Pierre-Paul (Four points)
Speaking of guys who should be back in 2020... Jason Pierre-Paul finished his injury-shortened season on an absolute tear. After picking up three sacks in last week’s loss to the Texans, he picked up two more in Week 17. That includes a sack-fumble that was returned 91 yards by Devin White for a touchdown. It came at a crucial point, and that’s honestly what we’ve come to expect from JPP. The leadership he has displayed since his return from injury has been significant for the young defense. Plus, he’s a consistent force off the edge, as evidenced by his 8.5 sacks in just 10 games this season. By hitting the eight-sack mark, he earned himself a nice $500,000 bonus. The front office would be smart to go ahead and give him plenty more cash this offseason. With the cap space that they have, the Bucs should make it a priority to re-sign Pierre-Paul AND the guy who finished No. 1 on this list. Anyway, with four more points this week, JPP earns a sixth-place finish in the season standings.
1. Shaquil Barrett (Five points)
Who else could it be? And could it have been any more clutch? Before we get to all that went down on Sunday, let’s just marvel at the fact that to finish first in the Buccaneers of the Week Season Standings for 2019, Shaquil Barrett needed five points in Week 17. And whaddya know? He got five points. The full five were well-deserved, too. Barrett entered Sunday needing just one-half sack to set a new single-season franchise record. He did that and more, picking up three sacks to finish as the NFL’s 2019 leader with 19.5. The breakout star of the defense finished with five quarterback hits in total on Sunday, and he did all he could to keep the game from going to overtime. His second and third sacks came on Atlanta’s final drive. Unfortunately for the Bucs, that wasn’t enough. But regardless, Barrett got a congratulations from previous franchise record-holder Warren Sapp. Plus, he’s about to get PAID. The 27-year-old should be Tampa Bay’s top priority this offseason, and by the sound of it, it sure doesn’t seem like he’ll be going anywhere.
With 26 points this year, Shaquil Barrett is the 2019 Buccaneer of the Year!
FINAL Buccaneers of the Week Standings for 2019:
1. Shaquil Barrett — 26 points
2. Chris Godwin/Jameis Winston — 25 points
3. Lavonte David/Ronald Jones II — 19 points
4. Devin White/Breshad Perriman — 16 points
5. Mike Evans (2018 Buccaneer of the Year) — 13 points
6. Jason Pierre-Paul — 11 points
7. Jamel Dean/Vita Vea/Sean Murphy-Bunting — 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