After back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs before the Bucs went into their Week 13 bye week, dropping both contests 27-24, Tampa Bay bounced back with a much-needed 26-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
After both teams exchanged punts to open the game, Minnesota would strike first with a short rushing touchdown from running back Dalvin Cook after moving down the field with relative ease on a 14-play, 84-yard drive but would settle for six after the missed extra point from kicker Dan Bailey. Bailey’s missed extra point would provide foreshadowing for a disastrous remainder of the day in which the 10-year veteran would go on to miss three more kicks, all field goal attempts. Tampa Bay would respond with 23 unanswered points of their own by way of a Ryan Succop field goal and touchdowns from Scotty Miller, Ronald Jones II and Rob Gronkowski. Quarterback Kirk Cousins would keep the Vikings’ hopes alive late with a touchdown pass to tight end Irv Smith Jr. in the fourth quarter, cutting the Bucs’ lead to 23-14. But Tampa Bay would add another field goal of their own and thwart a last-ditch effort from Minnesota with a strip sack from Jason Pierre-Paul, the Bucs’ sixth sack of the afternoon, with just over two minutes remaining.
Moving to 8-5 with a win on Sunday, the Bucs remain firmly in the NFC playoff picture as the sixth seed, above the Cardinals and Vikings and behind the 8-5 Seahawks as Seattle prepares to take on the New York Jets in Week 14.