ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 17: Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers carries the ball in the first quarter against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on December 17, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
The final quarter of the 2015 season is becoming eerily similar to the meltdown of the 2012 season, in which the Bucs were at one point 6-4 and in control of a playoff berth, only to lose four of their last five to finish 7-9. This year’s squad has dropped two games in a row and are staring at a four-game losing streak down the stretch unless they can quickly get things turned around by December 27 when they host the Bears at Raymond James Stadium and the season finale against the Panthers on the road. Below is a list of players who stood out in Tampa Bay’s 31-23 loss to the Rams that all but eliminated any hope for the postseason.
RB Doug Martin
The Bucs MVP this season, Doug Martin, did have a costly fumble killing a drive, but during the course of Thursday night’s game, surpassed Adrian Peterson for the NFL rushing lead. Martin often was stopped behind the line of scrimmage for little or no gain initially, but was able to fight as he has done for much of the year to get positive yardage. Besides currently holding the NFL rushing lead with 1.305 yards, Martin also leads the NFL in yards after contact, a testament to his rededication and work put in during the offseason.
DT William Gholston
Sure William Gholston had a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty in the game that shouldn’t have happened, but the former Spartan was one of the few defensive players who showed some fight and pride, particularly in the first half when the Bucs defense looked uninterested in even playing football on Thursday night. Gholston ended the game with 11 tackles, the most by a Bucs tackle since Warren Sapp had 11 against the 49ers back in 1997.
QB Jameis Winston
If this article was written in the first half, Winston would easily be at the top of the Most Disappointing list. Winston came out erratic and inaccurate, but in his defense, he was under duress by a relentless Rams’ front seven, who gave Winston and the Bucs offense line multiple looks that obviously confused the Tampa Bay offense. Some might argue Winston’s stats were padded by a soft Rams second-half defense, and there is some truth to that, but still, anytime a quarterback throws for over 300 yards in a single half, it is impressive. Winston settled down after halftime and ended up going 29-of-50 for 368 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Like Gholston, Winston was one of a handful of players who showed some fire in front of a national television audience.
WR Mike Evans
Mike Evans didn’t have a perfect game, but at the end of the day it was still a rather impressive performance with nine receptions for 157 yards. Evans has already gone over the 1,000 yard mark and should surpass his rookie numbers of 2014 despite missing the season opener and being limited in Week 2. Evans still has so much upside left, and if he can gain some consistency with his hands in the offseason, the former Aggie might move into elite status in 2016.
TE Luke Stocker
Many fans have questioned why Luke Stocker gets playing time and some even wonder why he is on the team. But if you ask the coaches and players, they are quick to defend Stocker who does a ton of dirty work as a blocker that rarely gets noticed. On Thursday night the former Tennessee standout had a very good game as an additional lineman, and also hauled in just his second career touchdown pass.
Honorable Mentions: Connor Barth (two field goals including a 53-yarder), RB Charles Sims (seven carries for 50 yards, 3 receptions for 22 yards)
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
Would add Adam Humphries, who caught every ball thrown at him and hustled for first downs. I think at times they had him in as Evans’s sidekick intead of Dye. If so, well-deserved. Humphries may have the Bucs secon-most reliable pair hands after Sims. I’d like to see more of Sims at wideout, too. Dye is really just a deep threat decoy on 99% of his snaps. Should rotate him back to the practice squad and give someone else a chance.
Ranell Hall is waiting for the call…
Rannell Hall was plucked off our practice squad by the Cleveland Browns last week. He now plays at the factory of sadness!
How about Dotson, he didn’t screw up once!
Agree with you about Stocker and I only know one person who constantly harps about Stocker.
The has added weight and looks like a tank and seems to have shed his early injury problems.
Also feel Humphries should be on this list. The young man catches virtually everything thrown his way and doesn’t do anything stupid ala Dontea Dye and ASJ.
Are secondary just stinks are our defensive line has been decimated by injuries.
Where have you gone George Johnson.
Stocker is a joke and he is a TE folks, best stat line to date “Stocker catches his second career td pass” ah, in 4 yrs in 4YRS, lol whatever
Gholdston is good against the run problem is he plays DE and only has 3 sacks now if your a DT with that stat line then bravo but as a DE your suppose to rush the passer, 3 sacks this yr sucks for a DE, maybe move him inside
I like Sims everytime he is on the field he makes things happen as My fav coach would say “brings the juice”
LOL. jongruded. LOL.
Also, Gholston is to tall to play DT. Height/weight distribution isn’t good for that position.
JonnyG can’t even give credit when it is due. How about some love for our deep snapper De Paola and our punter Schum? They’ve been consistent all season.
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