It’s been a while, but the Buccaneers defended the bay on Monday Night Football by picking up a 25-11 win over Cincinnati at Raymond James Stadium.
Whether it counts in the standings or not, head coach Lovie Smith said it’s always a good thing to play well in front of the home crowd.
“I thought it was important to play well at home,” he said in his post-game press conference. “I know we haven’t won a home game here in a long time. The players realize that. Anytime they keep score you want to win. It’s a preseason game but I liked a lot of the things we did tonight.”
That last time the Bucs walked off their home turf victoriously came after a 27-6 win over Buffalo on Dec. 8, 2013.
Putting a slight damper on the muggy night, however, was the sight of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston limping around after getting his ankle rolled up on by a Bengals pass rusher. Smith addressed the 21-year-old’s status after the game, saying that it was “a tough fall he took,” but that it’s not a serious injury.
“I thought we saw enough from him,” Smith said of replacing Winston with Glennon for the next offensive series. “I thought he did some good things and felt that was a perfect time to take him out. But if we needed him to play he would’ve gone back in the game in that next series.”
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
- The minor scare put an end to what was an impressive second professional showing for Winston. The Florida State product completed eight of his 13 pass attempts for 90 yards and opened the night’s scoring on the game’s first drive by running in a 1-yard play-action bootleg right that ended with him diving inside the right pylon.
- Tampa Bay carried its 7-0 lead into the second quarter before breaking things open with its defense. The Bengals’ first three possessions of the period ended in turnovers: a pick-6 by CB Alterraun Verner, a deep-middle interception by FS Bradley McDougald and a fumble forced by CB Mike Jenkins and recovered by LB Bruce Carter. The Bucs offense capitalized on the short-field opportunities with two touchdowns and a 53-yard Patrick Murray field goal.
- New DE George Johnson picked up his first sack as a Buccaneer during Cincinnati’s second drive of the game, bringing down QB Andy Dalton on a third-down blitz. Johnson finished with 1 1/2 of the team’s four total sacks.
- The home team’s score pushed to 25 early in the final quarter when LB Danny Lansanah stuffed RB Cedric Peerman for a safety. The big hit behind the goal line came on Cincinnati’s first snap after stuffing Bucs rookie running back Dominique Brown four straight times from inside the 2 regain possession.
- Bucs running backs came out swinging Monday as the team totaled 145 yards on 37 rushing attempts. Starter Doug Martin looked especially impressive, averaging 9.8 yards per carry while picking up 59 on six carries. Mike James didn’t receive a touch until the second half but went for 39 yards on nine attempts. Martin, Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey each had 7-yard gains wiped out by holding penalties and James was robbed of a 17-yarder.
- Penalties dogged the 2014 Buccaneers and yellow flags flying all over again Monday night. Tampa Bay racked up 14 total penalties for 153 yards. Epitomizing that sloppiness was a first-quarter punt return situation where CBs Leonard Johnson and Sterling Moore and LB Josh Keyes were all hit with flags. Ten of the 14 penalties were committed on offense, three on special teams and one on defense. Four additional flags were declined.
- Tampa Bay outgained the Bengals 356-152 in total yardage, 145-42 on the ground and 211-110 through the air. The Bucs also dominated the ball Monday, controlling possession for 38 minutes 42 seconds.
- WR Mike Evans went out in the first half with a hamstring injury but it was described as being a non-issue by head coach Lovie Smith and quarterback Jameis Winston.
- Russell Shepard, a special-teams specialist and backup receiver, turned in a nice overall night. The third-year pro hauled in a well-placed, 22-yard touchdown pass from QB Mike Glennon, caught another 22-yarder from Winston in the first quarter, took an end-around for 12 yards and recorded a tackle on special teams.
- K Patrick Murray hit from 53 yards and converted two of the league’s new longer extra points, but also missed from 50 and pulled an extra point in the second quarter.
- The defense’s lone surrendered touchdown came with less than 3 minutes remaining and courtesy of a 5-yard run from former Plant High star James Wilder, Jr. He’s the son of Tampa Bay Buccaneers all-time leading rusher James Wilder.
- Rookie WR Rannell Hall caught his first two NFL passes after sitting out last week’s preseason opener in Minnesota. The UCF product grabbed receptions of 18 and 7 yards, respectively, late in the first half.
- Three Tampa Bay defenders tied for the team lead in total tackles with four: LB Kwon Alexander, LB Jason Williams and DE George Johnson.
- Tampa Bay will host the Cleveland Browns at 7 p.m. Saturday night.
- WR Vincent Jackson, LT Donovan Smith, LG Logan Mankins, C Jeremiah Warren, RG Ali Marpet, RT Reid Fragel, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Mike Evans, QB Jameis Winston, FB Jorvorskie Lane, RB Doug Martin
- LDE Henry Melton, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Clinton McDonald, RDE George Johnson, SLB Danny Lansanah, MLB Kwon Alexander, WLB Lavonte David, CB Alterraun Verner, CB Johnthan Banks, SS Major Wright, FS Bradley McDougald
DID NOT PLAY
- K Brandon Bogatay, S Derrick Wells, DB Chris Conte, LB Orie Lemon, DE Jacquies Smith, C Josh Allen, C Evan Smith, T Kevin Pamphile, T Demar Dotson, TE Luke Stocker, DE T.J. Fatinikun
- The temperature at the time of kickoff was 91 degrees and humidity was listed at 65 percent.