The Bucs opened their season on Sunday against the San Francisco where they fell by a final score of 31-17. In a game where the defense truly appeared to have turned a corner, the offense largely fell flat and perhaps no one led that theme more than quarterback Jameis Winston.
QB Jameis Winston
Winston failed to find a rhythm and look comfortable at any point in the game. He finished the game with three interceptions, two of them being returned for touchdowns, but also threw a duck into the hands of Kwon Alexander early that was dropped, and threw another pass right at a defender when going for it on 4th-and-goal from the two-yard line. Just north of the two minute warning, trailing by six, the Bucs took over at their own 20-yard line with a chance to drive down the field and win the game. Winston was pressured on the first play of the drive and lobbed a ball into the hands of Ahkello Witherspoon who returned the ball for a touchdown and effectively sealed the game for the 49ers.
OT Demar Dotson
It was a rough season-opener for Dotson. On one drive Dotson was flagged for holding twice on two separate touchdown passes to tight end Cam Brate that were touchdowns that were negated. After being pushed back twice, O.J. Howard fumbled the ball on a third down reception and the 49ers took the ball back as the Bucs left – at minimum – three points on the field in a one score game. Dotson also was blown up on Winston’s last interception, forcing Winston into a poor decision and throw that resulted in his second pick-6 of the game.
TE O.J. Howard
O.J. Howard made multiple mistakes at crucial points in the first half. After two touchdown passes were called back for holding penalties, Howard brought in a third down reception and fumbled the ball, leaving three points on the field. With just under three minutes remaining in the half the Bucs took over with a 7-6 lead and a chance to drive down the field and add to their lead, but on the first play of the drive Winston’s pass went off the hands of Howard before being intercepted by Mark Nzeocha.
The officiating staff
It was a perplexing day from the NFL’s officiating staff tasked with calling the Bucs and 49ers game on Sunday. In the first half alone there were five touchdowns called back due to penalties, including two touchdown passes to Cam Brate on the same drive. In the third quarter a first down run on third-and-1 for the Bucs was ruled no play due to the officials not being in position, but the call was then immediately reversed and Tampa Bay was given a first down.
CB M.J. Stewart
Stewart struggled in coverage and just seemed to be a step slow on numerous plays throughout the game on Sunday. It all came to a rock bottom moment when he allowed wide receiver Richie James to beat him down the sideline for a 39-yard touchdown reception.