In a hard-fought, back-and-forth battle, the Bucs defended home field with a win in a 38-35 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for the third-most passing yards in team history with 456, and that helped the Bucs amass 542 yards of total offense in what was a crazy game start to finish.

After winning the the toss, head coach Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers elected to receive the ball first to open the game. In hindsight, maybe they wished they hadn’t. On the first play from scrimmage, Bucs running back Ronald Jones ran for a 10-yard gain and a first down, but on quarterback Jameis Winston’s first pass of the game, he threw an interception to Colts linebacker Darius Leonard.

On the Colts’ first possession following the turnover, two short run plays made for an anemic start, but a 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jacoby Brissett to wide receiver Marcus Johnson on Indy’s first pass play opened the scoring at 7-0.

On the Bucs second drive of the day, they were able to sustain possession for longer than two plays, but the end result of the drive was all the same, as running back Dare Ogunbowale fumbled the ball at midfield reaching for the first down. The Bucs defense was able to clamp down a bit more on their second time out, however, and held the Colts to just three points instead of seven. This brought the score to 10-0.

Already down double digits on the scoreboard, the Bucs offense began to settle in. On a drive that started with a couple of tough runs by running back Peyton Barber, but also included big passing plays to wide receiver Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman, the Bucs found themselves in the red zone quickly. A 13-yard pass then got the Bucs all the way to the 1-yard line, and a QB sneak on the next play by Winston then earned Tampa Bay its first touchdown of the game. The made extra point made the score 10-7.

The Bucs defense really came to life on their next possession, allowing zero yards in three plays to force the Colts into a quick punt. One play later, Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans found himself underneath a beautifully thrown ball by Winston for a 61-yard touchdown. That gave the Bucs their first lead of the game, but it came at a price, as Evans had to leave the game after suffering a hamstring injury on that play. Still, the score read 14-10 with Tampa on top for the first time in the contest.

Following the touchdown by Tampa Bay, both the Colts and the Bucs traded quick punts, one on three plays, the other on four. When the Colts took over after the Bucs punt, they were able to orchestrate a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended in another touchdown. There wasn’t a single play that drive that went for more than 10 yards for Indianapolis, but the ball continued to move all the way across the goal line to bring the score to 17-14.

On Tampa’s response drive, they were positioning themselves nicely to at least tie the game up with a field goal, but Indy linebacker Leonard’s second interception of the day off Winston stopped that cold. To make matters worse for the home team, Leonard ended up taking that one back for a pick-6. That once again brought the Colts’ lead to double digits at 24-14.

With just over two minutes to go and all three timeouts in hand, the Bucs started their drive from the 25-yard line. Three straight completed passes by Winston got the ball rolling into Colts territory, and a 17-yard throw and catch to Ogunbowale got them within striking distance. That gave way to a 3-yard touchdown grab from tight end Cam Brate, and brought the score to 24-21 with less than 40 seconds to go in the half.

All the Bucs had to do was not give up a big play.

Unfortunately they gave up a big play.

A 50-yard bomb pass from Brissett to Johnson gave way to a late field goal by the Colts to bring the score to 27-21 at half.

The Colts started the second half with possession and though they were able to move the ball 26 yards on their first drive, they were ultimately forced to punt.

When the Bucs offense trotted out onto the field for their first series of the second half, to the surprise of everyone in the stadium, it was Ryan Griffin under center for the Buccaneers and not Jameis Winston. We later learned that Winston had a hand injury and was questionable to return, at the time. Griffin completed his first two passes of the drive (the first regular season action of his career), but the Bucs eventually had to punt it away themselves.

Following the Bucs punt, the Colts offense came to life. With little momentum on their side, Brissett hit wide receiver Zach Pascal for a 37-yard gain to put the Bucs defense on their heels. A few plays later, Brissett his Pascal again for a 12-yard gain, this time in the end zone for six points. Up 12 on the scoreboard, Indianapolis elected to go for two on their extra point attempt and were successful. This brought the score to 35-21.

For their second series, Winston returned to the game was able to get things going. It started with an easy pass to running back Ronald Jones for nine yards. That led to a big 33-yard pass to Howard, followed by an 11-yard pass to Chris Godwin. On the final pass of the drive, Winston hit Justin Watson in the end zone for Watson’s first touchdown on his career to bring the score to 35-28. The Colts were forced into a quick punt on their next series, and when the Bucs took over they were once again able to chip into Indy’s lead with a field goal. That brought the score to 35-31 with one quarter to play.

On the Colts next drive, they needed a spark. So they decided to let it fly on a long pass down the sideline. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, cornerback Jamel Dean committed a costly pass interference penalty which resulted in 45 yards given up. But three plays later, the Bucs defense made a much needed play, as linebacker Devin White forced a fumble that was recovered by safety Mike Edwards for the change of possession.

But the momentum for the home team didn’t last long either, as Winston threw a quick interception to Colts safety Malik Hooker. However, continuing the series of strange events, the Colts offense would be forced into just a field goal attempt, which bounced straight off the upright and the score remained 35-31.

The Bucs were able to move the ball all the way into the red zone on their next drive following the Colts missed field goal. But as they reached the Indy 16-yard line, they were faced with a big 4th-and-three decision with less than five minutes left in the game. Arians and Leftwich opted to go for it, and a 5-yard completion to Ogunbowale moved the sticks. On the very next play, Winston his Perriman in the end zone to re-gain the lead, 38-35.

Down three on the scoreboard with less than four minutes to play, the Colts started their drive with two straight completion to get the ball right around midfield. However, after a few big stops by the Bucs defense, the Colts were faced with a 4th-and-two just as the two-minute warning hit. On a crazy play, that involved a batted pass, a caught pass by the quarterback, a second illegal pass and whole lot more, the Bucs came out on top. Tampa came away with the stop and the ball.

Without all of their timeouts, the Colts had to bank on a single stop. Bucs running back Peyton Barber didn’t let them have it.

As the clock hit 0:00, it was Tampa Bay on top 38-35.

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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]

38 COMMENTS

  1. Two Teams evenly matched. Bucs squeak away with a win even though Winston throws 3 interceptions and a pick 6. Our defense looked like it was in slow-mo but at least they held the colts back at the end. We will definitely end up with more wins than last year, and that is a good thing.

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    Rating: +12. From 20 votes.
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    • The only thing that made this game competitive is Winston’s 3 INTs. Bucs are their worst enemy, and it almost cost them yet another game.

      Don’t get me wrong – I love the fact the Bucs (Winston especially) were able to overcome and come back and win, but damn! When are we going to stop the costly turnovers and penalties?

      I think the Bucs should defer on coin tosses until Jameis can prove he won’t give it to the other team every 1st series of downs.

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  2. Good news, we win. Bad news, we are officially out of the playoff.

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  3. This team is always good for a heart attack or two lol. It’s such a conundrum with Jameis. 3 turnovers but 5td’s and almost 500 yards passing. It’s unreal. As far as the defense, we knew this oline for the colts were tough and it showed. It’s great to see this team win the close ones finally. They do believe and it shows. Go Bucs!

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  4. I was traveling so I missed the game but from the play by play it sounded exciting. Go Bucs and glad to get another win at home in front of the fans!

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  5. Being a Buc fan is not for the weak. Call’em the cardiac Bucs! Jameis is not going to change. He is who he is. You live and die with the guy. He is Mr Resilaint though. We will take the win.

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  6. I don’t care if it was the Colts or not… this team has turned the corner. I know, it’s only 3 games in a row and Winston only threw for 450 yards. Flame me. We will be a playoff team in 2020. BA is the F’ing man

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  7. Had we lost this game there would already be 40 comments on Winston’s Turnovers. Winston is Winston and going forward if we’re talking about an extension the coaches have to be clever in how they utilize his talent. I don’t think 456 yds 4 td 3int is the best use of his Talent. I love it every time we Win but realistically we are not going to Win many games this way next year.

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    • Yeah we won’t win many games when Winston throws for 450, 3 tds and rushed for a td. You are totally right. (Eye roll)

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    • Realistically this is how we win games. Jameis is the true meaning of a “Gunslinger” QB. He made 3 bad throws today and the rest went for 4tds and 450yards. This is who he is!!! The good, the bad, the ugly, and the great. We are a top flight offense because of him and the top turnover team because of him. He is consistently inconsistent. I don’t think BA can ever change him but with the defense playing better and upgrading the oline in the off-season, Winston gives us a chance to win any game but it might come with some head scratching throws but he won’t flinch or back down. He just keeps playing.

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      • Well said. It’s frustrating when he badly under/over throws his target and it’s picked. Then you watch the next 8 passes that are 20+ yards downfield and they’re perfect and you can’t believe his ability to avoid sacks and make these plays.

        I think the Bucs have to keep him around and just try to run the ball more in the first quarter. A ratio of 90/10 run/pass would be preferable. He is awfully unlucky in the first quarter. His first NFL pass was a pick 6 for Pete’s sake.

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    • The Bucs should give Jameis the same kind of extension they gave D Smith. Upper half of the league in salary for 3-4 years with only 2 years guaranteed. Toss in performance incentives, especially incentives for limiting his turnovers, and see how he does.

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  8. This was a good win but man…I kept turning the game on and off with the way Jameis was playing. It is a shame that we are out of the playoff race. I would have been nice to try and see what would have happened if we ran the table for the rest of the season.

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  9. Yes, 3 picks and a pick 6. Disappointing. 33 of 45 for 73%, 456 yards and 4 passing TD’s and a rushing TD. High end stuff. Sign him to a 2-3 year cap friendly contract with playoff incentives. Name the next roller coaster at Busch Gardens “The Winston”. This cat is entertaining, exciting and electric.

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    • That’s funny Jack

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  10. I didn’t think this team had 6 wins in it. At this point I think 8-8 is very reasonable which to me would be success. That Giants loss was the loss that really stung. If we have that win right now in hand, this season is still alive.

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    • Add in the games with 3+ turnovers that were close losses, and we might be hot on NO’s heels right now.

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  11. Reminds me of the 96 team. In Dungy’s 1st season it took till the 2nd half of the season for the team to finally understand how to win. 2020 should be interesting.

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  12. I don’t agree that teams were evenly matched. Bucs were a far superior team with an interception problem. Take away the picks and bucs win by twenty.
    Our defense played well with the short field. Winston was the most disappointing player and the most impressive. He’s his own evil twin.
    Bucs win at least eight games this year.

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    • Totally agree with you. The stats showed a game completely dominated by the Bucs…with the exception of those turnovers.

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      • I would say that we clearly have more talented receivers on this team. However, Indy clearly has a superior offensive line. Probably top 5 in talent. I see so many on these sites say everything is fixed if we have a better offensive line.

        I think this game showed you need talent in other areas besides that offensive line. However, it is a great year in the draft for O lineman so go find us a good one.

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  13. Great Team Win!
    Specials played Great!
    D was very good despite the 35 on the Board. Very fast paced, turnovers, pick 6, points were cheap.
    Devin White is going to be special for a very long time for Bucs! He is a Rookie playmaker in the middle of the Defense!
    There are at least half of the teams in the league who’d trade their guy for Jameis if they were offered.
    Learning to win is tough to do. DBs are best example of a team on the rise!
    Evans hammy looked real bad. Hate the non-contact injuries.
    Go Bucs!

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  14. Actually Winston had two bad throws not 3, the 1 int was on the Receiver. Anyways was crazy game. Defense was inconsistent too. They got the W though so that’s cool. We need better play in the secondary still for sure.

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    • The pass that bounced high off the receiver’s hand for an INT was behind him, so I count that one as being Jameis’s fault as well

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      • Nope. I’m old school. If you can touch it you can catch it.

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  15. Positives and Negatives this week
    Positives
    1) The defense when not trying to recover from an offensive turnover, played better again as a unit. They pressured the QB even if they did not get a lot of sacks. They covered the receivers although they did not have many turnovers (1). They did however force a number of three and outs against the Colts and in the end, stopped them two out of three times on fourth down. A solid if not spectacular day for the unit overall.
    2) Cannot say enough positive things about Justin Watson. He was not even drafted by anyone, a walk on free agent that Leftwich and Arians liked. Today he had five catches when forced into playing as the Bucs were down to three healthy receivers after Mike Evans went down. Yes, it was Godwin, Perriman, and Watson. Not only did he score a TD he made 5 catches and batted away two more errant balls by Winston which could have been picked off. Like it or not, he probably saved the Bucs from losing from Winston miscues (and there were a lot).
    3) The resiliency of Jamis Winston. No one can say he does not try. This was truly the good (five TDs), the bad (three interceptions), and the ugly (one more pick 6). It was also the fourth time this season he started the game off with an interception. The only difference is, he won this time.
    4) Devin White and the rookie class of defensive players give us hope. Overall, the cutting of Vernon Hargraves was a huge positive as more rookie playing time is resulting in better play.
    5) Bryon Leftwich called a good game. He did not panic, he did not abandon the run completely, but did rely on Winston to right the ship. He was right this time and they won the game.

    Negatives
    1) Evans getting hurt. Making a great play and scoring a 61 yard TD was great, but pulling that Hamstring was not a positive.
    2) Defensive giving up the big play again – at the start of the game, giving up that huge pass was a negative as well. Fortunately, they buckled down and just gave up one more the whole game. Like I wrote, generally they played well but the big plays continue to haunt them – just less frequently now.
    3) Dare Ogunbowale had a very mixed day, and the lost fumble was not a positive.

    Overall, this makes the Bucs 6-7 and somehow they may achieve what I thought (and posted) before the season started – an 8-8 record. I thought that would be a good achievement and show that Arians has them moving in the right direction. They may yet prove that right.

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    • Watson was a 5th Round pick by Bucs in 2018 Draft. Koetter kept him and it is nice to see the kid contribute. Nice to see Perriman make plays too, finally.

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      • You are right, I mixed him up with Wilson who was a walkon. Thanks for correcting me on that slip up.

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  16. The Bucs almost lost the game because of Winston. The Bucs won the game because of Winston.
    The Colts were playing for their playoff lives and saw it improving as the Texans continued to lose. I wasn’t at the game but if the scoreboard people didn’t keep that game off the scoreboard they need to have a talking to.

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  17. Just back from Ray Jay and a quick stop at the ER for a little shock therapy from a cardiologist!

    I’ll take the win. Jameis drove me crazy, but on the way out of the stadium a Colts fan said, “Jameis just schooled us today”. With Andrew Luck retired, the folks from Indy would love to have #3 behind center. The guy’s comments were interesting. “Yeah, he made a couple bad throws, but hell the guy was incredible.” A couple bad throws!!!! Are you kidding me! All three picks were on Jamies today. But he willed us to the win. We were head and shoulders the better team. I’m just glad I don’t have to figure out what to do with his contract at end of the season.

    Jamies aside, I though our guys played tough. I’ll watch the video, but we hit hard on D, and never let off the gas on offense. Couple observations; this offensive scheme feeds into Jameis’ dark side. High risk down field passing over the middle with a QB that already pushes the envelop. And stop rotating the RB’s – give one guy the ball and a chance to get into a rhythm and let the other guy spell him when he’s winded. On D, our young secondary held up ok. Dean timed a hit early that cost a long PI and Davis and Adams got crossed up on a TD. But Davis is incredible in run D and tackles like a mad man. Edwards came up with the fumble recovery and watching D. White’s speed live made a heck of an impression.

    And it was fun wading through traffic on the way home after a win, listening to interviews and the game recap. Go Bucs!!!

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    • Great feedback of your experience at the game!

      I think you nailed it with the outside world’s impression of Winston. They would love to have an explosive passer like Winston. Brissett was good today and has a better career int/td ratio and completion percentage, but he will never have as high a ceiling as Winston.

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    • D, I was watching the play-by-play on the internet and kept thinking, “man, I wish I was there!” It sounded like a helluva wild one for sure! Highlights, to me, showed Winston playing like his life depended on it. Much like you’ve mentioned all season long, there’s no other better option than having Jameis right now. A rookie means waiting another possible 3 to 5 years for development a journeyman doesn’t play with full heart and a trade is out of the question. I think Jameis loves the city of Tampa love the Buccaneers loves the game and will continue to get better. With Drew Brees nearing the end of his career, the Panthers heading for dark times, and Atlanta losing an arms race of firepower with us, the south ( next year) is up for grabs.

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  18. I am convinced we have made the turn.
    This team doesn’t give up and now believe that they can win. Go Bucs!

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    • And we have front row seats of the tide turning!

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  19. All of these positive comments and no Buc-Ass-Bob to throw cold water on a win? 2 Things I am now certain of. Winston will be the starter for the Bucs next year and Buc-Ass-Bob is without a doubt a PR reporter who signs on under a different name to “juice” the conversation.

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  20. Mike Evans goes down in the 1st Quarter after a slick TD pass. Bummer. Winston finds multiple receivers in order to rack up points and cement the win. Solid. Buc-Ass-Bob is nowhere to be found. Expected.

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  21. With BA Winston is a Winner! Yes we have turned the corner. Would you have believed before this game that we could win despite four total turnovers in a game and the loss of our number one receiver? Without Winston it would not have happened, and so great to see just what Perriman and Watson could do for us! We now know that if our backup QB had finished the game when Jameis went down, we would not have won. Don’t waste 10 million on keeping him next year. He is 30 years old now too.

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  22. Calling tomorrow to schedule an appointment with my cardiologist. If the Bucs re-sign Winston I’ll need more blood pressure medicine! One minute he’s throwing a pick 6 and the next minute he is throwing a long TD pass. I honestly don’t know what to make of Jameis?!?!? Can’t see him being a franchise-level quarterback, but also see flashes of brilliance.

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