CBS SportsTampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints: Tampa Bay Grades, Notes & QuotesBy Luke Easterling Sep 20, 2015Getty Images What a difference a week has made for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.After getting blown out at home last week to open the regular season, the Bucs bounced back with a huge road victory, holding off the division rival New Orleans Saints 26-19 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday afternoon.Tampa Bay's defense made a huge improvement over last week's embarrassing performance, led by three sacks from Jacquies Smith—two with forced fumbles—and three takeaways. The Bucs frustrated Saints quarterback Drew Brees early and often, bottling up a usually potent New Orleans offense for most of the day.Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston also improved from last week's up-and-down showing, completing 14 of his 21 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown, adding a touchdown on the ground and avoiding the costly mistakes he made against the Titans in Week 1.Both defenses traded body blows for most of the first half, with the Saints finally finding the end zone on an 11-yard run from Mark Ingram, giving the home team a 7-3 lead with time winding down in the second quarter. But Winston led a six-play, 63-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing possession, needing just 1:11 to give the Bucs a 10-3 lead on a 15-yard scoring toss to Vincent Jackson.Winston and the Bucs offense kept the momentum going on the first drive of the second half, marching 80 yards in just four plays—aided by a long pass interference penalty—taking it in himself from one yard out. Tampa Bay opened up a two-score lead at 17-3, and two more Kyle Brindza field goals would stretch the margin to 23-7 after three quarters.But not surprisingly, Brees and the Saints wouldn't go down quietly, as multiple Tampa Bay turnovers helped lead to back-to-back touchdown drives and brought them to within four points. A missed Zach Hocker field goal played a huge role in the fourth quarter, as did a blocked extra point that kept Tampa Bay's lead at more than just a field goal.Brindza would convert his fourth field goal of the day to stretch Tampa Bay's advantage back to seven points with less than two minutes to go, and a last-ditch effort by Brees would fall short after failed shots at the end zone on the game's final two plays.The Bucs move to 1-1 on the season, while the Saints drop to 0-2.All stats courtesy of NFL.comPosition Grades for BucsJonathan Bachman/Associated PressPosition GradeQB BRB B+WR C+TE COL CDL ALB B+DB B+Special Teams BCoaching CFor the most part, Bucs fans couldn't have asked for a better performance from their team across the board, especially after last week's poor showing.Winston managed the game well, avoiding costly mistakes for the most part and leading two huge touchdown drives, one to close out the first half and another to open up the second half. He was helped by an effective running game, led again by Doug Martin, who had 98 total yards and continues to pick up valuable yards after contact.Mike Evans returned from injury but was basically a decoy, not catching a single pass all game. Vincent Jackson's toe-tapping touchdown catch proved he can still be a valuable playmaker in the red zone, while Louis Murphy came up with a couple of big catches, as well.Austin Seferian-Jenkins moved the chains twice with solid receptions, but was called for multiple penalties and dropped a key completion late in the game that would have gone for big yardage.The offensive line surrendered three sacks but overall improved their play from last week and did enough to open up holes for an effective ground attack to keep pressure off Winston throughout the game.Tampa Bay's defense responded in a big way after last week's debacle, led by a stellar effort from the defensive line, both in the pass rush and against the run. Four sacks, three takeaways, five forced fumbles and improved tackling led to a rough outing for Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense.Kicker Kyle Brindza led a solid effort on special teams, nailing four of his five field-goal attempts—including a 55-yarder—and forcing touchbacks on six of his seven kickoffs.Head coach Lovie Smith bounced back in his own right, especially in regards to getting his defense prepared. Still, penalties were far too numerous, and his penchant for keeping things too conservative with a late lead could have easily cost the Bucs the win late in the game.Bucs Defense Makes Big Bounce-Back StatementChuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports After getting carved up by rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans last week, the Tampa Bay defense responded with an inspired effort on the road this week, dominating the New Orleans Saints for much of Sunday afternoon.Tampa Bay's pass rush has received plenty of criticism, but the defensive line rose to the occasion this week, sacking Brees four times and clearly rattling their old nemesis throughout the game. The Bucs forced three turnovers—two fumble recoveries and an interception—and forced three more fumbles the Saints were able to retain.Brees brought the Saints back within striking distance in the fourth quarter, but Tampa Bay made the plays when it needed to in order to seal the victory on the final drive. This performance should quiet some of their critics moving forward and give them plenty of confidence as they look forward to a Week 3 matchup with the Houston Texans.Winston Avoids Costly Mistakes, Gets First NFL WinRonald Martinez/Getty Images After throwing two costly interceptions in his first NFL start last week—including a pick-six on his first pass attempt—Winston played a nearly mistake-free game on Sunday, earning his first win as an NFL starting quarterback.Despite playing in a tough road environment, Winston was efficient and made plenty of big-time throws in key moments. The No. 1 overall draft pick lofted a beautiful 15-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson in the back of the end zone just before the half, added a rushing touchdown and kept a zero in the interception column. Outside of a late fumble, Winston's stat sheet was quite clean.Winston flashed the talent and poise that made Tampa Bay's decision-makers fall in love with him during the predraft process, making plays in a hostile environment and tuning out his detractors from a week ago to deliver a huge win on Sunday. After plenty of "he's a bust" talk after just one regular-season game, Winston's performance this week should teach many critics at least a little patience.McCoy Injured Late, but Looks to Have Dodged a BulletBill Haber/Associated Press Despite a big win, Bucs fans witnessed a worrisome moment on the game's final drive, as defensive captain Gerald McCoy left the game with what appeared to be a potentially serious injury to his right arm.But, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, McCoy said he was OK after the game and was seen using his arm while packing up in the locker room.McCoy has twice suffered torn biceps in his career, so it's completely understandable for Bucs fans to have feared the worst as they watched their $100 million defensive anchor lying on the turf clutching that part of his arm. But at this point, it looks like McCoy—who has notched a sack in each of Tampa Bay's first two games this season—has avoided another serious injury.QB Jameis Winston Gives Defense Credit for Big WinBill Haber/Associated Press The quarterback usually gets the credit when his team wins, but Winston says his defense deserves the love after Sunday's big road win, per Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com:This team came out here and played their tails off. We got a good division road win. It was a tough environment for us so we just went to the books, worked hard and got us a win. We've got to give it to the defense. They kept us in this game the whole time and when we needed points we got it.Winston managed the game well and avoided making too many big mistakes, but it was truly the defense that set the tone for the entire game by playing fast and physical, getting after Brees and knocking the Saints offense off their rhythm.A young quarterback's best friend is a strong running game on offense, but a stiff defense that creates turnovers and helps win the field position battle is equally vital. Winston got both on Sunday, and the Bucs came away with a huge win.Head Coach Lovie Smith on Defense's Impressive OutingRonald Martinez/Getty Images Head coach Lovie Smith took plenty of grief for his defense's poor play in last week's blowout home loss to the Tennessee Titans, and with good reason. But the unit bounced back in a big way in Week 2, bagging four sacks and forcing three turnovers.Smith said the defense's performance on Sunday will be huge for building confidence moving forward, according to Scott Smith:It will help our confidence out a lot. We just wanted to come in and put together a better product on the field and all across the board I feel like we did that. That's why we train in OTAs and training camp, to make you mentally tough. When things aren't going your way, continue to fight through. Just like the heat we battle every day in practice. It's just being mentally tough and I feel like as a team we did that.After getting gutted last week—both on the ground and through the air—Smith needed a big showing from his defense this week to calm the fans who had began pouring gasoline beneath his coaching seat. For at least this week, the torches and pitchforks should remain sheathed.Winston on TD Pass to Vincent JacksonDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsComing off a late touchdown drive to take the lead late in the second quarter, it looked like the New Orleans Saints had snatched momentum along with a 7-3 lead heading into a halftime.But a quick drive in the half's final minute put the Bucs in the red zone with just seconds remaining, and Winston capped it off with a perfect touch pass over the top of the defense to a leaping Vincent Jackson."Me and Vince have a tremendous connection," said Winston of the scoring toss, per Scott Smith. "Him being a veteran, he always tells me, 'Hey, man, when you see the middle of the field open, take it to a post.' I did it, and we completed it."With Mike Evans being used mostly as a decoy after missing last week's game with a hamstring injury, the connection between Winston and Jackson was vital in Sunday's win.link
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