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.