This was a tough loss, but only because there were some courageous performances that had to shine through a long list of injuries that came about throughout the game. The result helps the Bucs in the long run via draft position, but these players played so well, you wish they could’ve have gotten the win they fought so hard for.

QB Jameis Winston

If you ask me, this was the best game of Jameis Winston’s career.

I know Winston has thrown for more yards in other games and thrown for more touchdowns in other games, but for what this game was, in primetime (where he has struggled), for him to go 27-for-35 with 299 yards, three touchdowns with no interceptions and the way he marched his team down time and time again after being down on the scoreboard, this was his best performance in my book.

Tonight was everything you wanted from your franchise quarterback.

WR Mike Evans

I tweeted this during the game, but it just seems like Mike Evans has a tendency to play angry against the Atlanta Falcons – he did tonight, and his stat sheet showed.

Evans finished the game with 79 yards on five catches with a touchdown. Each of Evans catches seems to come at a high degree of difficulty, and his touchdown catch was him just being a full grown man over two defenders. Evans’ day could have had even more yards if they weren’t called back for penalties.

Evans, along with Winston, played his guts out on Monday.

TE Cameron Brate

Cameron Brate has had games with better stat, but, boy, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more battled performance from Brate.

Early in the game he took a shot over the middle that really had him hurting. You could see Brate on the sideline doing everything he could to re-collect himself and get back in. He did, and the team benefited from it.

Brate finished the game with 49 yards on four catches. Two of those catches came through heavy contact on the last drive of the game. Without Brate’s determination, this team wouldn’t have had a shot to kick the field goal to tie it.

LB Kwon Alexander

2017 has not been the season Kwon Alexander has wanted it to be.

After being chosen as one of the Pro Bowl sleeper players going into the season, Alexander spent the first half of the year on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. With the rest of the NFL then at full speed and Alexander just getting warmed up, he struggled at times here in the second half of 2017.

However, on Monday night Alexander shined with fellow linebacker Lavonte David out. Alexander had a team high 13 tackles against the Falcons and was call on to be the thumping run stopper in the middle.

WR Adam Humphries

Humphires only finished the game with 43 yards, but his five catches, including his first touchdown of the season, came in crucial moments.

Humphries also had a key punt return that set up the Bucs offense late in the game. His impact as a return has been minimal this year, but tonight it was the x-factor in his game.

TE O.J. Howard

Howard’s night was unfortunately short and sweet due to an ankle injury that sidelined him for most of the game. But, Howard’s one catch counted the most as it went for a 30-yard touchdown.

Howard was in a walking boot after the game – as were many of his teammates.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

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]
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macabee
macabee
4 years ago

Let me repeat the stats for Winston – 27 completions out of 35 attempts, 299 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, and a 130.5 passer rating. Looking closer this was a near perfect game. Jameis was actually 27 of 35 with 4 drops, 2 clock-spikes and 2 incomplete passes as I recall (will re-watch the game). Not bad, his performance tonight will silence a lot of critics.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  macabee
4 years ago

And yet someone saw your all too factual comment as a thumbs down.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
4 years ago

I think the last part of his comment, which was subjective and not necessarily correct “will silence a lot of critics” was what was voted down. One game does not transform a player who has been criticized routinely, repeatedly, for years as an inconsistent player who plays a couple of good games sprinkled in between a lot more bad and mediocre games. Which is as equally factual as the rest of Macabee’s comment above. Nobody maintains that Jameis Winston plays badly every single game. It is that he is not reliably good. Just as one bad game, or even one… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

And for the record, no, I did not down vote Mac’s comment .. nor did I upvote it for the reason I state above. And to further the point of the Winston critics and of the Winston skeptics (I count myself in this group) … so which Jameis Winston is the “real” Jameis Winston, the guy who played very well last night and produced a very good stat sheet? Or is it the Winston from just one week ago who coughed up the ball three times to the Lions in the game, and which most (outside of Winston fans) believed… Read more »

wnb0395
wnb0395
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Couldn’t have said it better myself Naples. I consider myself a Winston Critic also because he is so inconsistent. Doesn’t mean I don’t like him, don’t want him to succeed, or don’t give him props when he does well. As Naples pointed out, the main reason I am a critic is because Winston has not lived up to the expectations this year. We added a lot of offensive talent, so many if not most expected Winston to have a great year or at least as good as last year. He has def failed to meet those expectations. He has a… Read more »

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

The problem is Naples is that game like this aren’t the norm. QB’s don’t complete what should’ve been 80% of is passes on the norm. The problem is people expect this every week, forgetting he’s still the youngest QB in the game starting. And while he hasn’t had the “breakout year” that some thought he was going to have, which was probably way overhyped. His numbers are all up a crossed the board, and doing it with sitting 3 games and being hurt in most others. I have no problem putting criticism when it’s deserved with Jameis. He still struggles… Read more »

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

And on a side note, I’d love your opinion about Desean Naples. Personally I think this offense runs better without him. There is no forcing the ball to him and trying to run plays to him. Just Jameis hitting his reads.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Thanks wnb and cg, appreciate your comments. cg – I definitely don’t think the “standard” for good quarterbacking is 80% completion and 300 yards a game, and a 144 passer rating. Great when those games happen, but nobody performs at that level all the time. I think what I liked about Jameis’s performance last night wasn’t his stats – which were great – but just his overall performance. He looked cool, calm in the pocket, went through his progressions to find the best target, and even made some nice “touch” passes … all hallmarks of a quarterback playing the game… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

cg – on Desean Jackson, really like him. He’s not on track for 1,000 yard season, but I think that’s in part due to so many other targets available to share the targets with .. and in part because Jameis simply hasn’t been very accurate with his medium to long range throws on go routes, which is his specialty. Jameis keeps missing on throws beyond 10 yards, so DSJ’s been getting his catches mostly on short 5-10 yard routes.

This is clearly one area where Jameis is underperforming – long throw accuracy. Maybe he’s not getting proper technique coaching?

Horse
Horse
Reply to  macabee
4 years ago

Macabee; the thumbs down votes shows you no matter what Winston does they will find something negative. What a great game Winston had. That’s the QB we want to see the rest of the season.

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

MAC I was very encouraged by Winston last night.
That was his best game since K.C. last year hopefully this is a start off constant and steady play for him.

Amo
Amo
4 years ago

I respectfully disagree with Evans’ selection. His two offensive interference penalties were momentum killers.

Jack
Jack
Reply to  Amo
4 years ago

One was a ridiculous call, and the other wasn’t as clear as it looked live. The Atlanta DB flopped like a basketball player trying to draw a foul.

macabee
macabee
4 years ago

Gonna stay up late tonight and re-watch the game. Then I’m going to watch the movie 300. lol.

surferdudes
4 years ago

Where has Evans been all year? Part of his problem with his pass interference penalties is he has trouble gaining separation on just about every D.B. who’s covering him. It will be hard to place a price tag on his next contract. Do they make him one of the highest paid receivers in the league? He’ll want that kind of money, not sure he’s worth it. His production this year doesn’t warrant it.

chefboho
chefboho
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

I think part of the problem is that the refs are all over Evans every time he goes out on a route. There’s no way he should’ve been called for the first PI which was a 40 strike. He swiped the DB’s hand away. Even gruden mentioned how terrible the call was. Heck, the first pass of the game to him, the DB was mugging him the entire time before the ball was even thrown.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  chefboho
4 years ago

The PI call was bogus. Would never be called on that Julio guy.

chefboho
chefboho
4 years ago

What I want to know, is where are the Winston haters that are usually on here to destroy Winston? You know who you are. If your good enough river be a couch coach when he has a bad game, you can at least comment when he has a great game too. Or are you eating your humble pie this morning?

scubog
scubog
Reply to  chefboho
4 years ago

I suspect they are eating their favorite candy……M&M’s. (Marcus Mariota)

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  chefboho
4 years ago

Uh oh, one of them came out from under his bridge to give you a down vote.

stlbucsfan
stlbucsfan
4 years ago

Number 1 in starts, yards and soon to be TDs for QBs under 24 and this was a guy some said was in a make or break season next year lol. Maybe now some people will realize that even a perfect performance from Jameis STILL might not be good enough on THIS team. They said Doug missed the game due to a violation of teams rules, yet another bold and wildly incorrect assessment by Licht this summer. Hopefully we keep Desean engaged and can sell him on the turnaround, I am sure a better coach will realize that putting him… Read more »

Jack
Jack
Reply to  stlbucsfan
4 years ago

Desean is never going to be one of Winston’s go-to guys because he’s not a fighter like Godwin, Brate, Humphries or Evans. Those guys FIGHT the DBs to make the catch. Jackson doesn’t do that, at least not like those guys. Also, I think Winston finds it tiring to keep trying to feed Jackson the ball just to keep his ego inflated. I just get the sense Winston is just as fine with Jackson gone next year as he is with him coming back.

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
Reply to  Jack
4 years ago

Finally someone else can see D.Jax as the problem!!!!!

stlbucsfan
stlbucsfan
Reply to  stlbucsfan
4 years ago

I get a different sense, I see a guy in Jameis that realizes the impact DeSean Jackson can have on the game and knows that can help our offense. He’s not feeding him the ball Bc Deseans mad he knows this offense would go to another level if they can get him involved. Humphries got the 2nd most targets yesterday playing in the slot and I’d rather see Desean getting those targets than Hump whose solid but not special. Godwin on the outside gives Jameis a bigger target in the smaller sideline windows. If the Gruden rumors are true I… Read more »

sunshineben
sunshineben
4 years ago

Winston played a great game but one game not a season ..he is average or below with all the weapons and nothing special so far. ..

chefboho
chefboho
Reply to  sunshineben
4 years ago

You mean with three offensive lineman on IR, djax out with an injury, oj Howard leaving the game means he had a ton of weapons? Honestly dude, get over the hate. Yes Winston has to improve in areas but he is a true leader and the last three games he has had us in a position to win as well as against the patriots. Can’t put that all on the quarterback now can we? And if average to below average is 17td’s and 6 int’s with a bad shoulder, one of the worst offensive lines, and no running game, then… Read more »

Buc-n-Philly Fan
Buc-n-Philly Fan
Reply to  sunshineben
4 years ago

Donkey!

I am a Gator Fan and even I can say the Bucs have their first franchise QB. I guess you would rather have Blake Bortles huh?? Or the oft injured Mariota??

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  Buc-n-Philly Fan
4 years ago

sunshine is another boring Mariota homer. Haven’t seen you much this season sunshine, but if you’re going to cut and paste the same comment in a couple different Bucs sites, at least move the wording around a little. It’s less of a giveaway that you’re a troll.

Jack
Jack
Reply to  sunshineben
4 years ago

All I’m going to say is play action. Winston can’t run an effective play action pass because defenses aren’t buying the run fakes because the line can’t open holes. It’s really hurt the entire offense this year. If Winston had 2015’s line and 2015’s Martin the way he’s currently playing, he’d be making a lot of people look foolish. I’m still a skeptic because of his inconsistencies and general recklessness, but Winston is playing a lot better than his stats and the team’s record would indicate.

chefboho
chefboho
Reply to  Jack
4 years ago

LAst night they actually ran play action quite a bit. I believe Winston was 7/7 for 102 yards and 2td’s. The best Part of it was that they were doing it on FIRST down when almost everyone including us think the bucs will run it up the middle.

matador
matador
4 years ago

M&Ms that’s hilarious. No question, Winston had a great game. One of the toughest games physically for the team I can remember. If he matures into that type of player with consistency and we can protect him, we’ll be in great shape. This next draft needs to be a significant step toward fixing one of the lines. I’d vote OL since that will help JW and the running game, improve field position and keep the D off the field. A big question is whether you trust Licht to address the OL/DL elephants in the room or keep drafting as if… Read more »

bucballer
bucballer
4 years ago

Jamesis did play well last night. It resembled a MASH unit out there last night with all the injuries. Without the drops and spikes he would have been even more impressive. I give Winston his props when he does well and when he doesn’t I don’t. One interesting tidbit we learned last night is that our next Head Coach Gruden, likes Jamesis and said he has the skills u want in your QB! Interesting comments… Sorry but Coaching staff still needs to go. Smith’s Defense…while suffering from injuries… most teams r this time of year… still couldn’t get off the… Read more »

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  bucballer
4 years ago

As interesting as Barkley is, there is way too much work to be done on defense to even worry about an offensive piece. Mark Ingram is a free agent so free agency might be a way to go to get a back. Just so many needs on defense, I mean what if Grimes doesn’t come back?

Jack
Jack
Reply to  cgmaster27
4 years ago

I think if the team improved the offensive line that the defense as a whole would improve. Ball control is the best defense a team has, and right now the Bucs struggle with it. Compare the holes created by Atlanta’s line last night and those created by the Bucs. It’s night and day! And Atlanta kept Tampa’s defense on the field WAY too long and it eventually caught up with them in the fourth quarter trying to stop Freeman.

Fixing the oline also helps the dline. But yeah, draft for both. Hopefully, the Bucs won’t draft a kicker or punter.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
4 years ago

Agree with all the “most impressives” – Winston was the best last night. Not just in terms of stats, but the quality of his passing was definitely better, including (unusual for him) some “touch” passes. He won’t necessarily play this well all the time, but this is the best he’s played in a long time. He needs to build on this performance. I do think additional kudos should go to Alan Cross and Anhony Auclair – as fellow third string tight ends they came in and each made a clutch catch on his single target of the night for 23… Read more »

sunshineben
sunshineben
4 years ago

But cgmaster27 , I have season tkts to the bucs so I may even live under a nicer bridge .If you have a man crush on Winston or went to the same school then that’s cool . It is just M.M. is rated much higher then Winston in the qb rating and thought of as a better qb by most nfl media.I know you will make excuses as to why. If and when Winston performs like a #1 pick(not just 1 game)n I will drop it..to many bad decisions made on the field and an accuracy is a problem

rob roy
rob roy
4 years ago

The offensive line is the least of the Bucs problems. DE, CB and RB are the priorities. Most impressive left off this list is Chris Conte. Seven tackles (five solo), a forced fumble and two passes defended. Conte played “smash mouth” football all night and his forced fumble was a hit for the highlight reels.