The Buccaneers’ defense was the story Sunday afternoon as they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars, 28-11, to earn their fifth win of the season.
Led by rookie linebacker Devin White, the Bucs’ defense put together another solid performance with the front seven and the secondary all contributing to the Bucs win. White continues to improve game by game and he had another outstanding contest this week, returning a fumble 14 yards for a touchdown and also intercepting a Nick Foles pass in the first half, his first of the season. White also led the Bucs defense along with fellow linebacker Lavonte David with seven tackles.
Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles was ineffective in the first half as the Bucs’ defense held him to seven-for-14 passing with 93 yards and one interception. Tampa sacked him three times.
The Bucs’ defense now has 11 sacks in the last two games and the NFL’s sack leader Shaquill Barrett added two more to his total to give him 14.5 on the season. Barrett is quietly closing in on the all-time Buccaneer season sack record of 16.5 held by Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.
The Buccaneers totally dominated the Jaguars in the first half as they built a 25-0 lead behind their opportunistic defense creating turnovers and giving the offense a short field to work on.
The Buccaneers’ run defense was solid once again as they held Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette to 38 yards on 14 carries.
The Jaguars brought out fan-favorite Gardner Minshew to start the second half and try to get something going offensively, and he created some problems for the Bucs’ defense with his mobility and his quick release. Minshew led the Jaguars to two scores in the third quarter as he was able to develop some chemistry with wide receiver Dede Westbrook, who scored the Jaguars’ only touchdown as they cut into the Bucs’ lead to make it 25-11.
The Buccaneers were able to take back the momentum from the Jaguars in the fourth quarter and added a Matt Gay field goal to make the final score 28-11.
Jameis Winston did just enough to help his team get the win as he went 21-for-33 for 268 yards. The big news on the day was that Winston had no interceptions and just one fumble. The fumble was caused when running back Ronald Jones missed a block, causing Winston to get hit and lose the ball and promptly earning Ronald Jones a seat on the bench for the rest of the game.
Winston, as he is prone to doing, did take a couple of unnecessary sacks as he held onto the ball too long instead of throwing it away.
It was a disappointing effort for the Bucs’ run game as they ran for just 74 yards on 31 carries and averaged 2.4 yards a carry, down dramatically from the 3.9 yard-per-carry average their first 11 games of the season. With the Jags giving up over 200 yards a game on the ground the last three weeks, a lot more was expected from the Bucs’ running game.
Peyton Barber was the running back with the hot hand throughout the game as he scored the only offensive touchdowns in the first half. Barber continued to get the majority of the touches in the second half as Ronald Jones was on the bench.
It was good to see O.J. Howard be a big part of the offense, as Howard had five catches for 61 yards, his best game this season.
The biggest surprise on offense for the Buccaneers was the play of wide receiver Breshad Perriman. This was Perriman’s best game in his four-year NFL career as he led the Bucs in receiving with five catches for 87 yards and was a favorite target of Winston throughout the game.
Mike Evans and Chris Godwin each had four catches on the afternoon.
With Indianapolis, Detroit, Houston, and Atlanta coming up on the schedule, the final quarter of the season for the Buccaneers, could see them win three of four and finish at 8-8 on the year.
As Bruce Arians has said so many times these last few weeks, let’s just win the next game and at the end of the season, we’ll see if we have enough wins to keep playing.
For the Jaguars, they are now 4-8 and have to be re-thinking the decision to give Nick Foles that big $88 million contract in the off-season. Foles’s future in Jacksonville is now a big question mark as Gardner Minshew was named the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season.
The Bucs host Indianapolis next weekend, while the Jags will host another team that has questions at quarterback, the Los Angeles Chargers.