What a game. What a finish. The Buccaneers stunned the NFL world by going to Los Angeles and defeating the defending NFC Champions 55-40 just one week after one of the worst losses in recent memory.
Jameis Winston had another outstanding game, Shaq Barrett continues to be the best defensive player in the league, and Ndamukong Suh put the exclamation point on the game with a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown.
Lots of great things to talk about, so let’s dive right in.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Statement Victory. The Bucs were bludgeoned with questions about conservative play calling, inability to finish a game, and questionable defensive play following a 32-31 loss to the Giants. Now they start a six game road trip in Los Angeles to take on the 3-0 Rams. No problem. The Bucs took the opening kick off and proceeded to march down the field and put up seven points thanks to a Peyton Barber touchdown and Matt Gay extra point. They never looked back. They took a 21-point lead before it was cut to 21-14, then the Bucs had an answer for every offensive drive the Rams had ending in points. Even a pick six by Rams’ corner Marcus Peters (a great defensive play, not a bad throw or decision by Winston) wasn’t enough to deter this team. They capped it off with a strip sack by Shaq Barrett, scooped up by Suh on his way to the end zone. It was a big time win for a team that needed to prove to themselves that they can absolutely win this kind of game.
2.) Shaq Barrett. That’s it. Just Sahq Barrett. What an absolute steal in free agency. #PayTheMan
3.) Great Response By Matt Gay. After missing what would’ve been a 34-yard game winner last week, Gay responded with a nine-for-nine day, making seven extra points and two field goals - including a 58-yarder. This was exactly the kind of game Gay needed to bounce back after missing a field goal and two extra points last week. Right back on track.
4.) Chris Godwin Is A Number One Receiver. It doesn’t matter that he’s the “number two” on the Buccaneers, he could be the number one receiver on at least a third of the teams in the NFL. He finished with twelve receptions, 172 yards, and two touchdowns. Opposing defenses are going to continue to have problems matching up against the Bucs. Focus on Evans? Okay, we’ll get you with Godwin. Focus on Godwin? We got Evans. Double both? Time to unleash O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, and the running game. As the team continues to play together, the offense will only become more dangerous.
5.) Secondary Issues. The Bucs’ defense looks better, comparatively, to the last few seasons. That’s not to say they don’t have their issues. The secondary is still suspect and give up way too may yards. No, yards aren’t points, and the Bucs have tightened up inside their own half of the field - but that can also lead to disaster. The secondary has to improve to slow down some of these high powered offenses (looking at you, New Orleans). Carlton Davis finally got through a game without being flagged, but M.J. Stewart was giving us flashbacks to E.J. Biggers, Vernon Hargreaves was losing his man, and the safeties are being way too risky with some of these plays where they lay out for either the ball or the player. Once they miss, it’s nothing but green grass for the receiver. Gotta tighten up. The front seven isn’t always going to be able to bail them out.
6.) Condolences, Jason. Jason Licht lost his father unexpectedly Saturday night, so rather than being with the team in Los Angeles, he flew home to Nebraska to be with his family. The entire Bucs Nation staff sends their thoughts, prayers, and well wishes to the entire Licht family during this tough time.
Six Numbers To Consider
55 - Most points in a single game in franchise history
9 - Games since the Rams gave up a first quarter touchdown. Bucs scored one on their first drive
62 - Consecutive games with at least one reception for Mike Evans
11 - Career interceptions for Lavonte David
1 - Number of times Chris Godwin has gone over 100 yards in one half, that being yesterday in LA
44 - Points scored between the Rams and Bucs in the fourth quarter. The over/under for the game was 48.5
Six Best Tweets
Through four games:— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) September 30, 2019
* Chris Godwin 26-386-4 on 33 targets
* Mike Evans 18-368-4 on 35 targets
Game ball goes to GM Jason Licht, whose father suddenly passed away last night.— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) September 30, 2019
A huge Nebraska fan, it’s no coincidence that all three Nebraska connections: Suh, David and Barrett (Omaha native), all made huge defensive plays.
This ones for you, Jason. pic.twitter.com/TsHsabUTJy
We have felt you all day, Dad. You will be missed. We love you. pic.twitter.com/siMulGYwtM— Jason Licht (@jasonrlicht) September 29, 2019
Over the last 3 weeks, the Bucs have faced Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley & Todd Gurley.— Luke Easterling (@LukeEasterling) September 30, 2019
Their combined rushing output?
29 carries, 63 yards.
More like... LOSS Angeles AM I RIGHT??? #GoBucs— Bailey Adams (@BaileyJAdams22) September 29, 2019
We're on to the next one (also, Cam Newton should take notes on how to dress) pic.twitter.com/Q3Rib0oFsg— Bucs Nation (@Bucs_Nation) September 30, 2019
Six Key Contributors
6.) Ronald Jones - Kid gets better by the week. Finished with 70 yards on 19 carries but had 79 yards worth of runs (two, to be exact) called back for penalties. RoJo is asserting himself as the number one guy.
5.) Ndamukong Suh - Finished with only two tackles and two quarterback hits, but had the game sealing touchdown following a fumble recovery. How’s that for a big time play for a defensive lineman in the fourth quarter?
4.) Mike Evans - A relatively quiet day outside of a 67-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. He’s back to second on the team in receptions and receiving yards, but that’ll probably change next week.
3.) Shaq Barrett - Continues to be a monster. Four tackles, a sack, two passes defensed (one resulting in an interception by Jordan Whitehead), a forced fumble, and his first career interception. Just pay the man, already.
2.) Jameis Winston - 28/41 for 385 yards and four touchdowns while completing passes to eight different receivers. Bucs are now 12-10 in games where Winston has a quarterback rating of 100.0 or higher.
1.) Chris Godwin - 172 receiving yards - 125 in the first half - and two touchdowns. This guy is showing exactly why people were so high on him coming out of Penn State and why “losing” DeSean Jackson was absolutely not a big deal.
Six Super Bowl Bets
(Per usual, this was completed before the Sunday Night game was over)
1.) New England Patriots - Tougher game than many thought, but Pats stay perfect
2.) Kansas City Chiefs - Chiefs win on the road despite Mahomes not having a touchdown for the first time since his first start
3.) Dallas Cowboys - Still makes me throw up a little when I put them on here...
4.) Seattle Seahawks - They just find a way to get the job done
5.) New Orleans Saints - Withstanding a Brees injury at .500 or better is bad news for the rest of the league
19.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Get that secondary on the same level as the front seven and this might just be a playoff contending team