There were a couple of moments when I started to have my doubts, but all in all? Not a bad game, and hey! Bucs won.
Bucs 38 – Jaguars 31
If there’s such a thing as a game that’s a much-needed shot in the arm, this was it. Struggling quarterback Jameis Winston managed to shake off last week’s disastrous outing against the Carolina Panthers, running back Doug Martin was back in his groove in a big way, and the Tampa defense showed some of that classic flair other teams had feared for many a season. Best of all, this all was done before a diminished yet still loyal home crowd, in the midst of snapping an 11-game home game losing streak.
Hell, this was fun.
With an offense that pushed a running attack all day, the Bucs took a bit to get dialed in, but once that happened they were able to move the ball on demand pretty much all afternoon. This served to take some of the pressure off Winston and allow him to find a rhythm that resulted in 200+ yards of passing yardage, a TD pass to Doug Martin, and no interceptions. You have to give it up for Winston, a rookie still trying to learn his offense and lead his team when expectations are always so high to perform and produce. The guy hung tough all afternoon, shaking off two sacks and protecting the ball, and making sound decisions that kept Tampa’s offense on the move all afternoon…all vast improvements from last week.
On defense, the Bucs managed to get to Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles six times along with notching an interception and a fumble recovery. The D came up big late when it looked like the Jags might climb back into the game, forcing a fumble deep in Jacksonville territory and while stumbling and staggering to the end zone. Despite another late Jags attempt to steal a win, the Bucs were able to hang and seal the deal.
Yeah. Shot in the arm. Big time.
Granted, this all happened against the 1-3 Jaguars, who also are struggling in the early goings this season, so let’s not get too carried away just yet. Still, it was a strong outing and hopefully sets the stage for continued improvement as we move deeper into the season’s second quarter.
The win moves Tampa to 2-3, three games behind the Atlanta Falcons, who won again and improved to 5-0. Carolina, also undefeated at 4-0, had their bye this weekend, while New Orleans got hammered by the Eagles and dropped to 1-4. Next up for the Bucs? It’s their bye week, so I’ll have to find something else to occupy this space.
Nice job, Tampa. Glad to see you’re still swinging.