Thanks to three first half sacks and two first half takeaways, including a 14-yard scoop-and-score by rookie inside linebacker Devin White, Tampa Bay raced out to a 25-0 halftime lead in Jacksonville before hanging on to beat the Jaguars, 28-11. The Bucs won back-to-back games for the first time this season and improved to 5-7 on the year.
Those five victories equal the win totals in Tampa Bay over the last two years as the team went 5-11 in 2017 and ’18. The Bucs have four games left to improve on their record and perhaps get to seven, eight or nine wins.
As the visiting team, it was the Bucs’ choice to call either heads or tails for possession before the game. They chose tails, but the coin showed heads after the flip. The home Jaguars deferred to the second half, so it was Tampa’s ball to start.
After missing on his first attempt that was batted at the line of scrimmage, quarterback Jameis Winston was able to hit wide receiver Mike Evans on the team’s first third down of the day to avoid the three-and-out. On the Bucs next set of downs, they were once again faced with a third down but it was once again picked up via a throw to Evans. Unfortunately that wasn’t the last third down they would face, and on their third, they weren’t able to convert and were forced to punt.
On the Jaguars’ first possession, they were able to strike a long ball early, as Jacksonville wide receiver Dede Westbrook was able to get behind Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis was a 39-yard gain up the sideline. But then just a few plays later, Tampa Bay rookie linebacker Devin White grabbed the first interception of his career to give it right back to the Bucs.
Following the turnover, Tampa Bay marched right down the field 69 yards in eight plays to punch in the first touchdown of the game. The play of the drive was a 25-yard pass to tight end O.J. Howard, followed by a 15-yard touchdown run by running back Peyton Barber. This brought the score to 7-0.
Two plays into the Jaguars’ next drive, outside linebacker Shaq Barrett came around the edge and sacked Foles, which forced a fumble. The fumble was picked up by linebacker Devin White and brought back to the house for a touchdown. After a penalty on the PAT, the Bucs elected to go for two with the ball then at the 1-yard line. They converted and brought the score to 15-0.
On the Jaguars’ next drive, the were able to move the ball in a much more controlled manner. However, the end result was the same as the two drive before, as a sack fumble by Carl Nassib and recovery by Ndamukong Suh made it three straight drives with a turnover to open the game for Jacksonville. As they had on the previous drive, the Bucs converted that turnover into a touchdown and took their lead to 22-0.
Following the onslaught of points to start the game, things really started to slow down, as both teams exchanged punts for most of the rest of the first half. However, one the Bucs side of things, Howard and wide receiver Breshad Perriman really opened things up, and the team was able to get another three points before the half was over to bring the score to 25-0 at the intermission.
The Jaguars made a quarterback change to start the second half, as Gardner Minshew became the team’s signal caller. Minshew had a few daring throws on the team’s first drive of the half, but they were ultimately forced to punt. When the Bucs took over, they were able to move the ball — seemly in business as usual — but a fumble by Jameis Winston after getting hit from behind gave the ball back to the Jaguars. Following the fumble, Minshew was able to drive Jacksonville into field goal range to get them on the scoreboard at 25-3.
When the Bucs took over, they were able to get the ball into Jaguars territory thanks to a 25-yard throw-and-catch from Winston to Evans. But they ultimately turned the ball over on downs. Four plays later, Minshew led the Jaguars into the end zone for six points, dwindling the Bucs leads to just 25-11.
Following giving up points on back-to-back drives, Tampa was only able to hold the ball for three plays before punting it after a three-and-out. After taking over, Minshew once again led the Jaguars into striking distance. Instead of kicking an easy field goal on fourth-and-5, down two touchdowns with less than ten minutes to play at the time, the Jags opted to go for it and converted. A few plays later they were faced with the same scenario, and a pass interference call against Tampa Bay gave the home team a new set of downs at the 1-yard line. But just as all momentum looked like it was sucked from the Bucs sideline, rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting came away with the interception.
Unfortunately for the Bucs they had to start the next drive on the 1-yard line with their backs against their own end zone. Because of this they weren’t able to move the ball much and had to punt it back to the Jags, still up 14 points with just less than five minutes left in the game.
Though the Bucs defense bent in the wrong direction on their previous few drives, they snapped back into shape when they needed to, forcing the Jaguars back via another Shaq Barrett sack. One play later Jacksonville turned it over one downs, and the Bucs took over with a two touchdown lead and just over three minutes to play.
Gay connected on a 37-yard field goal to finish his perfect day and increase the Bucs’ lead to 28-11.