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Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Buccaneers of the Week: vs. Rams

Which five players were Tampa Bay’s best in Monday night’s 27-24 loss to the Rams?

The Buccaneers played another primetime game in Week 11 and yet again, they failed to put their best foot forward, losing 27-24 at home to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.

With the loss, Tampa Bay dropped to 7-4 on the year and saw its NFC Wild Card positioning take a hit. If the season ended today, the Bucs would be the No. 6 seed, though they would have to make their way to Green Bay in the first round for a rematch against the Packers. Losing out on the No. 5 seed would mean missing out on a chance to play the NFC East winner, who will likely have a losing record.

There’s still plenty of time—five games, to be exact—for the Bucs to improve their positioning. Unfortunately for them, though, the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs are up next. If Bruce Arians’ team fails to win that one, it will be 7-5 heading into the bye week. While that’s an improvement over past years, it would feel like a disappointment with the amount of talent on this roster.

Before we move on to the Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes showdown that lies ahead in Week 12, we have Bucs of the Week points to award from Monday night’s loss.

A reminder of how this works, for anyone who’s new around these parts: Each week, I’ll rank the top five Bucs of the Week and assign them point values, which will determine their place in the “Buccaneers of the Week Standings.” No. 5 gets one point, No. 4 gets two and so on. The 2018 Buccaneer of the Year was Mike Evans, while Shaquil Barrett was the 2019 Buccaneer of the Year. OK, let’s get it going.

Honorable Mentions

Antonio Brown continued to contribute and play a big role in the Bucs’ offense on Monday night, leading the team in targets (13) and catches (eight), putting up 57 yards... Sean Murphy-Bunting was Tampa Bay’s leading tackler, posting 10 (five solo), with two going for a loss... Devin White tallied nine tackles (five solo), with one for a loss. He also picked up a quarterback hit... William Gholston had the other two of the Bucs’ quarterback hits on the night... Ryan Succop once again made all of his kicks, making a 38-yard field goal and connecting on all three of his extra point attempts.

5. Lavonte David (One point)

The Tampa Bay defense had an uneven night against Los Angeles. It allowed 413 yards and struggled mightily to defend the pass, but it still came up with some key stops throughout the night and ultimately gave the team a chance to win. When the Bucs were having success defensively, Lavonte David was a big part of it. He finished the night with nine tackles (eight solo), with three tackles for loss—matching a single-game career high. David also came up with a pass defended, bringing his career total to 50. He is now five away from passing Aqib Talib for fifth-most in franchise history. And while the veteran linebacker uncharacteristically missed a few tackles on the night, he still had a strong enough game to warrant a point in this week’s standings.

4. Chris Godwin (Two points)

As uneven as the Tampa Bay defense was against Los Angeles, the offense was significantly worse. Tom Brady had a stinker of a game, throwing for just 216 yards and two touchdowns on 26-of-48 passing. But of the success Brady did have, Chris Godwin played a big part. He caught seven of his 10 targets for 53 yards and a touchdown. The score was a 13-yarder that took an impressive extra effort, and it tied the game at 24-24 with 3:53 left in the fourth quarter. Despite not putting up the same numbers he did in 2019, Godwin has looked more like himself as of late. Brady spreads the ball around plenty, but the fourth-year receiver has often been the go-to when Tampa Bay needs a big first down. His Monday night performance earns him two big points in the season standings, bringing him into a sixth-place tie.

3. Jordan Whitehead (Three points)

The emergence of Antoine Winfield Jr. has been a major story in Tampa Bay this season, so it’s been easy to forget about Jordan Whitehead. The third-year safety has been somewhat hit-or-miss throughout the 2020 season, but Monday night’s game against the Rams was one of his better outings of the campaign. He totaled seven tackles (four solo), with one going for a loss. The tackle for loss was key, but Whitehead’s biggest moment came in the fourth quarter when he intercepted Jared Goff to give the Buccaneer offense a chance to get back in the game. The offense was in a funk and the team needed a spark, and Whitehead stepped up to provide it. That turnover led to Tampa Bay’s game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. So, despite Whitehead being a part of the secondary that had a forgettable game, he picks up three points in the standings.

2. Mike Evans (Four points)

As good of a game as Godwin had on Monday night, Mike Evans was the receiver who managed to stand out the most. Matched up with Jalen Ramsey for most of the night, Evans impressed, catching five passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. The score was unbelievably impressive, as he caught a short pass around the 5-yard line and was wrapped up by two defenders, but instead of going down, he dragged his way over the goal line. It was a grown man effort, one that we’ve become plenty accustomed to seeing from Evans over the years. With that touchdown, he became the first receiver in NFL history to catch touchdowns in his first five Monday Night Football games. What Evans brought to the game also went beyond his stat line, as he was able to draw a long pass interference call out of Ramsey at one point as well. No. 13’s yards and receptions may not have been up to the level that Brown’s and Godwin’s were, but he still takes home four massive points to jump into a third-place tie in the season standings.

1. Jason Pierre-Paul (Five points)

The clear MVP for the Bucs on Monday night was Jason Pierre-Paul. The veteran edge rusher was one of the only ones who consistently stepped up to make plays, putting up six tackles (four solo) and two passes defended, with one being a huge third-quarter interception. With the Rams having a chance to double up after halftime and make it a two-score game, Pierre-Paul intercepted Jared Goff to set up a game-tying field goal for Tampa Bay. It was only the 31-year-old’s fourth career interception, but it was his second in the last two weeks. He later batted a Goff pass away on a key third down as well, giving the Bucs some momentum when the offense sorely lacked it. And the impressive thing was, he made his presence felt even though he failed to register a sack. That’s the mark of a great player—he found a way to make an impact. And for that, he takes home the full five points this week and pulls into a third-place tie in the Buccaneers of the Week Season Standings.

2020 Buccaneers of the Week Standings through Week 11:

  1. Tom Brady — 16 points
  2. Devin White/Ronald Jones II — 15 points
  3. Lavonte David/Mike Evans/Jason Pierre-Paul — 12 points
  4. Antoine Winfield Jr./Ryan Succop — 9 points
  5. Scotty Miller — 8 points
  6. Carlton Davis/Chris Godwin — 6 points
  7. Leonard Fournette/Shaquil Barrett/Jordan Whitehead — 5 points
  8. Mike Edwards/William Gholston/Jamel Dean — 3 points
  9. Vita Vea/Ndamukong Suh — 2 points
  10. Sean Murphy-Bunting/Offensive Line — 1 point

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