It was another tough week for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they fell on the road for the second week in a row, this time to the Buffalo Bills by a score of 30-27. Unlike their game against the Cardinals, the scoreboard did reflect how close the Bills game was, and the Bucs almost had the ball in their hands to go win it at the end, instead of what actually happened, which was the other way around.

The reason it was a close game for much of the contest was because some key players stepped up. These were our most impressive players from the Bucs loss to the Bills.

LB Lavonte David

When the Buccaneers were down 31-0 against Arizona, it was Lavonte David whose energy led the the defense to get more aggressive, get some turnovers and get back into the game.

That was the same case against Buffalo.

David led all Buccaneers with 14 total tackles. He also had a fumble recovery that was a big swing in the team’s momentum. Beyond just the numbers, David was all in the faces of the Bills players, too. He laid a punishing hit on running back Mike Tolbert, which is tough to do, and showed emotion about it, which is what defenses feed off of.

David was a leader on Sunday.

QB Jameis Winston

I’ve been critical of Winston before when he’s had similar stats in losses as a reason why they came up short, but I do believe this game was different.

Did Winston play a perfect game? No. The pass that was broken up in the end zone to Cameron Brate early on should have been better (higher) and resulted in six points, there was an overthrow to an open Charles Sims down the sideline, and there were a few passes thrown by him that he still needs to learn to not throw.

However, he was still the reason they were able to keep it close. Winston finished the game 32-for-42 with 382 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. When in rhythm down the stretch, he methodically led his offense down the field to take that 27-20 lead. The offense also started off better this week than it had in the past, going no-huddle on the first drive, something Winston was comfortable with.

He still has room to grow, but in a game where stats don’t tell the whole story, I thought he adjusted well to some of the things we’ve criticized of him as the game came to a close.

TE O.J. Howard

O.J. Howard led all Buccaneers in receiving yards with 98 yards on six catches with two touchdowns to boot.

Howard being on this list might be less of an “impressive” and more of a “when are teams going to actually guard this guy?” Howard was wide open on both of his touchdowns thanks to some great play design. He’s a true x-factor for this team, meaning one play from him could spring momentum in their direction.

It definitely did on Sunday, even if they came up short.

WR Mike Evans

Evans was second behind Howard on the receiving yards list for the Buccaneers today with 88 yards on seven catches with a touchdown for himself, as well.

Evans saw a team-high 10 targets, one of which was a clutch touchdown to take the lead down the stretch. There was one throw his way that I think he could have been a little stronger to go get, but that’s just nitpicking. Evans is called on week-in and week-out and almost always delivers.

He did again on Sunday.

K Patrick Murray

After a strange game against the Cardinals where the Buccaneers scored 33 points and yet did not attempt a single field goal and only one extra point, Murray’s first real action came early in the Bills game with a 50-yard field goal that he connected on.

Murray was 2-for-2 on field goals in this game and was 3-for-3 on extra points, as well. He is a huge sigh of relief for Bucs fans who have suffered through kicking woes for too long.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
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DEBUCSOWN
DEBUCSOWN
4 years ago

Murray for MVP!! So nice having a competent kicker! Go Bucs!

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  DEBUCSOWN
4 years ago

And all right down the middle too. I know it sounds like the little things but damn it was nice not having a heart attack every time the kicking unit came out.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
4 years ago

Agreed on all of the above. Although with Howard, if guys start covering him, then who is going to go uncovered? Pick your poison. That’s what’s great about having a great run blocker and mobile pass catcher who can run routes and get clear. If OJ didn’t have those talents, he’d just be another tall tight end who doesn’t lead the team in receiving yards. I just wish Humph had had a better outing. And the defense just had to not let the Bills get that quick 1-minute TD drive at the end. Yeah, I know, that’s another post for… Read more »

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
4 years ago

It was really good to see Murray bury all his kicks today. Really hope our kicking situation is finally sorted. O.J. is such a weapon and it’s good to see him mixed in more today. He had some good routes and catches over the middle as well as the two big TD’s. Evans continues to be great. He got mugged on that contested 3rd down pass and deserved a flag. He’s our #1 and should be targeted at such. But I didn’t think Jameis or Dirk forced targets his way. Good balance. Jameis played a good game. Was mostly sharp… Read more »

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
Reply to  RootsCrew
4 years ago

Roots agreed with everything you said, if Murray had been with the Bucs from the start maybe 2 extra wins. One thing I saw was VH3 at nickel looked much better.
I had been hoping to see OJ targeted more and he was,as far as the defense we somehow need to get 2 stud D Ends that position has been IMO ignored for to long.

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
Reply to  Buc 1976
4 years ago

It’s been frustrating waiting to O.J. to be worked in more, but I kept having to tell myself he’s a rookie & he would take some time to contribute in the passing game. I hope he continues to get better over the last 10 games. He’s such a weapon.

Yeah, looks like we’ll need two DE this offseason. Prefer to grab them in the draft, but FA will work too. Gotta get it sorted now that it looks like Noah might not be who they hoped he’d be.

tnew
tnew
Reply to  RootsCrew
4 years ago

good call on the INT Roots… the other almost INT that DJax fought off was the same thing. The receivers did not sell the out portion of the route well enough or something on film told the LB/DB to disregard the out. If on either of those routes, the receiver actually ran the out, it would’ve been easy big gains.

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
4 years ago

Agree- Winston played well. HE does everything except win.

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  Bucnut2
4 years ago

Yes because he let those point sup today. Still mad your boy Mariota struggled against the almighty Browns today Bucnut?

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
Reply to  Bucnut2
4 years ago

Winston DOES NOT PLAY DEFENSE!!!

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
4 years ago

Can we talk draft. I think we should tank, fire the coaching staff and FO, hire Gruden, draft a ton of defense and running back, take the ball out of Winston’s hands and we will start winning

chefboho
chefboho
Reply to  Bucnut2
4 years ago

Take the ball outnof Winston’s hands? Are you truly
That much of a Winston hater that when he literally is the only reason the bucs were in this game AND took the lead that you still have to hate on him? He was all over the top ranked pass defense today. It truly does get tiring of hearing you blame Winston for everything. This defense is trash and unless we score 30 a game we will lose every time. Theyre statistically the worst d in the league. Somehow in your mind, this must be jameis’ fault as well

Jlog
Jlog
Reply to  chefboho
4 years ago

If we could work a trade for Cousin with the cash strapped Skins we should do it or some other QB of that quality otherwise Winston is our man.

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
Reply to  Jlog
4 years ago

Like it! Let’s get Cousins

matador
matador
Reply to  chefboho
4 years ago

We had 180 yards passing going into the fourth quarter. On a team with Evans, Jacason, Brate, Godwin, Hump amdmOJH who the Bills forgot,to cover at least twice, inflating our passing stats.

Once again we played mediocre ball for three quarters, our QB threw an INT, fumbled and threw two passes to the Billas that our players should get a ‘pass defensed’ credit for, and you’re singing Winston’s praises? An elite QB doesn’t repetitively end up in these situations. He needs another 2-3 years of honing his craft before we can credibly anoint him our franchise QB.

chefboho
chefboho
Reply to  matador
4 years ago

Your talking about the fact that jameis was up against the number one scoring defense in the nfl dude. Take your stupid thinking cap off because it’s the wrong size. What quarterback out there is rocking it right now. Big Ben has looked terrible, Marcus Mariota is looking weak, matt Ryan looks like garbage. All I hear is he “almost three three picks” that’s like saying he almost threw five touchdowns. The dude comes out there with a sprained ac joint and literally gives us the lead with three mi it’s before the defense collapses. Also the locking looses it… Read more »

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
Reply to  matador
4 years ago

This is a flat out lie just so you can slander Jameis. The offense had 180 passing yards at halftime. 256 yards by the end of the 3rd quarter. He threw for 76 yards and a TD in the 3rd quarter alone. Go troll somewhere else.

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
Reply to  matador
4 years ago

How right you are matador!!! Well Said.

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
Reply to  chefboho
4 years ago

I agree he played well. Let’s not forget however that if he hits a WIDE open Sims on the wheel route we win this game. JW does everything BUT win!

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  Bucnut2
4 years ago

Winston>Mariota

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
Reply to  Bucnut2
4 years ago

Bucnut2 you are certainly a NUT!!

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
Reply to  Bucnut2
4 years ago

The ONLY thing i can agree with you is your NAME. NUT OR MAYBE IDIOT WOULD BE MORE APPROPRIATE!! You want to get rid of the complete coaching staff, Starting QB and numerous other’s

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
Reply to  Buc 1976
4 years ago

Wow! Personal attacks are now ok on PR. 76-i hope you are doing well.

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

Trevor, spot on!

skipper
skipper
4 years ago

Bucnut, Take the ball out of Winston’s hands? Winston just threw 3 TD’s and for nearly 400 yards. Did you miss the game?

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
Reply to  skipper
4 years ago

no I saw it. He played VERY well outside of the pick he threw. I hope he continues this type of play

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
4 years ago

Winston has entered the flying under the radar category. National media will focus on 2-4 record but will ignore the huge improvements Winston has made this year which is a shame.

But winning is the only way to change that narrative sadly.

tnew
tnew
4 years ago

Constantly amazed at at the disdain for Winston. This game is a 27-13 loss without him. Blaming him for the lost fumble is akin to blaming him for the Humphrey play. I was impressed for the most part with Koetter sticking to the run. I know the numbers don’t look great but the Bucs must continue with a commitment to it no matter. Winston has a very good play action which must be used. The list is solid. I want to look at the video, I think Justin Evans looked pretty good at the free spot and VHIII looks better… Read more »

chefboho
chefboho
Reply to  tnew
4 years ago

That’s because you have people like bucnut, matador, and sunshine bean who will look for any reason to blame jameis for the losses. It’s obviously idly jamies’ daily we have the worst defense in the league, or that koetter a coaching and play calling are suspect. It really drives me crazy the hate for this young man.

chefboho
chefboho
Reply to  chefboho
4 years ago

Fault, not daily

jongruden
jongruden
4 years ago

Most impressive was Winston, Evans, DJax, OJ, David, Murray to me Murray kicked a 50 yarder as the Bucs kicker he should get a game ball doesn’t matter we lost game. The td throw from Winston on run to Evans was special.