Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by Mark LoMoglio/PR
Tampa Bay scored on its first four possessions, kicker Roberto Aguayo responded to his critics with a perfect night, Adam Humphries took a punt to the house and the Buccaneers sent the Cleveland Browns packing with a 30-13 win.
An announced crowd of 46,848 got its first in-person look at Raymond James Stadium’s flashy, new video boards on a night dominated by the home team. After a week filled with criticism, Aguayo got his first opportunity to respond less than 3 minutes into Friday’s third preseason game and drilled a 48-yard field goal.
Cleveland quarterback Robert Griffin III managed to move the ball and even the score at 3-3 on the Browns’ first possession but that’s as close as it would get. Tampa Bay scored 24 unanswered points and never let Cleveland get closer than within 14.
The Bucs are now 2-1 in the preseason and will wrap up exhibition play Thursday at home against the Washington Redskins.
Aguayo nailing his first kick – from long distance, no less – provides a big confidence boost moving forward and takes a little heat off for now. He finished the night 3-for-3 on field goals and extra points. The rookie’s two other field goals came from 21 and 27 yards. Aguayo’s now 6-of-8 in three preseason games.
After an unimpressive 3 of 10 passing performance last week, Winston responded by having a fantastic night. In two quarters of work he completed 16 of 25 attempts for 259 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Winston’s touchdown passes went for 3 yards to running back Charles Sims and 34 yards to receiver Mike Evans.
Bucs defenders played like sharks smelling blood in the water Friday. Tampa Bay racked up eight sacks for 38 yards and harassed Cleveland quarterbacks with four-man rushes and blitz packages. The secondary must get credit for a couple coverage sacks of Griffin, as well. Defensive end Jacquies Smith led the charge with two sacks. Fellow ends Noah Spence, Howard Jones, Kourtney Brown, linebacker Kwon Alexander and defensive tackle Will Gholston each recorded a sack apiece, and tackle Gerald McCoy and end Robert Ayers split one.
Cleveland entered Friday night’s game as one of the league’s worst statistical teams in terms of yardage gained and allowed and that held up in Tampa Bay. The Browns were surrendering an NFL-high 409 yards per game. The Bucs got close but couldn’t quite hit that mark, finishing with 361. Tampa Bay’s defense limited Cleveland to 254 yards of total offense, a bit above the Browns’ average of 207.5.
TO THE HOUSE
Who will return punts and kicks this year has been asked all training camp. As far as punts go, the answer is Adam Humphries. The second-year receiver solidified his role in the first quarter when he took Andy Lee’s punt 73 yards for the Bucs’ first punt return touchdown since Michael Spurlock in 2009 during the regular season. The last preseason punt taken to the house came the year prior when Dexter Jackson returned one in 2008.
Sure, it’s only the preseason. But seeing Mike Evans top the 100-yard mark receiving is never a bad thing. He needed only five catches to get to 115 yards and secured all of his targets. The stat line might have been a little gaudier had Evans been able to keep his balance along the right sideline after hauling in a nicely thrown ball from Winston. Fellow top target Vincent Jackson wasn’t far behind, finishing with 78 yards on four catches.
QB Jameis Winston
(On the play of wide receiver Adam Humphries)
“That’s what he does – he just makes plays. He’s amazing. We are so blessed to have him on this football team.”
(On the defense tonight)
“It helps us out so much. We’ve been playing great football all around. Defense has been playing tremendous football all year, special teams, offense started fast and we put up some points.”
(On playing at home for the first time this season)
“We’re blessed to have these amazing scoreboards; what was done to the stadium for this year is tremendous and players notice. We came out pregame and were like, ‘Wow, this is amazing,’ and we did not want to disappoint the people here. But the game isn’t over yet, so hopefully we can bring a win home.”
WR Adam Humphries
(On contributing on offense and special teams)
“It’s important to contribute to this team in any way I can. Obviously I’m going to do whatever the coaches ask me to do and give my all, give great effort.”
(On the offense tonight)
“We went a little up-tempo there, so it was good to kind of get the tempo going and get in a rhythm. It was good to see Jameis complete some balls down the field and get in that good rhythm.”
(On his last punt return for a touchdown)
“The last time I returned one was in college against Louisville. Obviously there were some great blocks on the return [tonight] so you have to give it up to the whole team.”
Tough decisions for Buc Brass. It will be interesting to see who gets cut.
Agreed. It’s a good problem to have.
First cut won’t be that bid a deal. The last cuts to get to final 53 will d
efinitely be interesting.
A good game bause the players were focused and ready. The Center Gottschalk was impressive and I believe will be our starting Center next season. Hawley goes out for a series and the Bucs don’t miss a beat at Center. Winston, Evans, Humphires, Jackson, Sims looked good. I didn’t see much of Vitale or Bell, but at least Bell caught one of his passes to him. Defense is very promising. Go Bucs!
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