All of a sudden, things are looking up for the Buccaneers.
They beat the 49ers on Sunday, 34-17, for their second straight win. The Bucs are now back at .500.
Jameis Winston shook off an early, poorly-thrown interception to end up with a nice day. Mike Williams is showing no signs of a sophomore slump. And even without Doug Martin, the Bucs suddenly have found a running game, thanks to another big day from Jacquizz Rodgers.
When Tampa Bay fell behind 14-0 early, I thought it was going to be a long afternoon in Santa Clara. No sir. The next 27 points were scored by the road team.
The fact that San Francisco’s run defense is terrible should not diminish the effort by Rodgers, who finished with 154 yards on the ground. Evans’ performance (two more TD’s) is even more impressive when you consider that Vincent Jackson was placed on injured reserve last week. Russell Shepard and Peyton Barber also found the end zone. Who are those two guys? That’s my point; other players stepped it up nicely.
The defense is also playing much better. Yes, they let the ‘Niners march right down the field to start the game. And the second TD they gave up was the direct result of a bonehead mistake by Winston. But the D held San Francisco to a field goal the rest of the way.
Roberto Aguayo missed another field goal. Yes, it was a 50-yarder, but it’s only going to add to the scrutiny surrounding the second-round pick. He’s now 6-for-11 on FG’s this season. Not good enough.
But six games in, and the Bucs are very much right in the mix. The next three games are at Ray-Jay, where Tampa Bay has struggled to win in recent years. That has to change, starting with the game against a very good Oakland team next Sunday.
Photo courtesy: buccaneers.com
If you’re a Bucs’ fan, you’re shaking your head over what could have been.
Instead of pulling out a game that was arguably winnable, Tampa Bay fell to the Giants at Ray-Jay, 32-18. The game was much closer than the final score indicates.
There is a lot to talk about in this one. Perhaps the biggest headline coming out of this loss was the performance of Mike Evans. If you didn’t see (or listen to) any of the game, you’d think he had a great game: 8 catches for 152 yards. And yes, those are very good numbers. But – oh, those dropped passes. I lost count of how many he had. And a number of them would’ve given the Buccaneers a third down conversion. Doug Martin – who lost a fumble in the first half – also had a big drop in the third quarter that could’ve gone for a touchdown.
Jameis Winston did everything but put the team on his back. If you didn’t see him leaping through the air and into the end zone in the 4th quarter, you should. At the time, it cut the Giants’ lead to two. Tampa Bay missed the potential game-tying, two-point conversion when Russell Shepard couldn’t get the second foot in-bounds. Winston looked like a budding star against New York. Imagine how good his numbers would’ve been if his receivers had hung onto the ball a bit more.
And then, there is the undisciplined nature of this team. It’s a story just about every game, and it was a factor in this one. The penalties continue to kill them. The biggest one was the personal foul on Akeem Spence late in the fourth quarter when the Bucs were trying to get the ball back. You just can’t make undisciplined plays like that. You also can’t keep lining up in the neutral zone. That’s bad coaching.
Another problem: burning two of your precious timeouts way too early. The Buccaneers would’ve had a bit more than 20 seconds (or whatever it was) to mount a last-gasp drive. The Giants’ final touchdown came on a desperation lateral that was fumbled and scooped up by the defense.
The three turnovers (including the last desperation one) all led to Giants’ points.
This was a frustrating game for Tampa Bay. The Bucs had a chance to get back to .500, playing a pseudo-road game at Ray-Jay with tons of Giant blue in the crowd. But it didn’t happen.
Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com