After last week’s opening day debacle, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players, coaches and fans, needed Sunday’s 26-19 win over the Saints more than can be stated. A number of players stepped up their game and had a nice bounce back week that helped Tampa Bay get to 1-1 on the season, but more impotently, 1-0 in the NFC South. Below are the list of PewterReport.com’s most impressive players from Sunday’s win. Take a look and see if you agree.
DE Jacquies Smith
All offseason fans and media questioned where the Bucs pass rush would come from. On Sunday everyone got their answer as Jacquies Smith had a monster game for Tampa Bay, notching three sacks of Saints QB Drew Brees and forcing two fumbles. Smith had a offsides penalty late in the fourth quarter that negated another sack fumble, but it ultimately didn’t hurt the Buccaneers as they still were able to hold Brees and the Saints out of the end zone on New Orleans final possession. While Smith’s performance doesn’t mean Tampa Bay’s pass rushing woes are over, it certainly will help head coach Lovie Smith sleep better tonight.
WR Louis Murphy
Early in the first half Louis Murphy had an opportunity to extend a Bucs drive with a third down catch, but dropped the Jameis Winston slant and then was blown up by a Saints defender. Fortunately for Murphy and the Bucs, the former Gator standout was able to recover and ended up leading Tampa Bay in receiving with three receptions for 82 yards, including a game-long 54-yard pass from Winston on a scramble drill. After being a non-factor last week against the Titans, Winston and the offense needed Murphy to emerge as he did on Sunday.
DT Gerald McCoy
McCoy left the game late in the fourth quarter which what Lovie Smith described as a shoulder strain, but added another sack to his totals and now is the leading NFL sacker among defensive tackles since 2012 with 25 QB takedowns. McCoy who set a goal of double-digit sacks in 2015 is well on pace to achieve that mark for the first time in his career, if he can manage to stay injury free. McCoy finished the day with three tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss.
WR Vincent Jackson
When on the road in a hostile environment, having a leader and team captain step up goes a long way in helping to win on the road. And that is exactly what Vincent Jackson did to help his team – and rookie quarterback – by doing a great job of going up and getting the football on the game’s first TD. As impressive as the throw and catch, Jackson’s ability to get both feet in was equally as highlight worthy. Jackson finished the game with three receptions for 54 yards
QB Jameis Winston
There have certainly been better Bucs performances at quarterback over the last 40 seasons, but based on the game Jameis Winston had last week and the improvement shown on Sunday, Winston makes this week’s list. His game was far from perfect, and had be completed some easy balls inside the Saints five-yard line earlier in the game, it never would have turned into the nail biter it ended up being. Winston was sacked three times and had what could have been a very costly fumble in the fourth quarter but his defense bailed him out. He also had one another late, under pressure over the middle throw that was very dangerous, but Winston improved considerably over last week, and went into a hostile environment and ended a Bucs losing streak against New Orleans that dated back to 2011.
RB Doug Martin
Doug Martin’s stat line won’t wow many. A 3.7 yard average on 21 carries, and a late fumble aren’t things that look pretty when some reads the box score on Monday morning, but without his presence and hard nosed running, the Buccaneers probably don’t leave New Orleans with a victory. Martin also added a 20 yard reception to being his total numbers on the day up to 98 yards.
K Kyle Brindza
Brindza ended the day with 14 points and connected on a 55-yard field goal in the first half to get the Bucs on the board. The former Notre Dame standout joined the team just before the final preseason game and has made Bucs fans forget all about the kicking woes of the preseason. The strong legged kicker also kept the Saints starting on their 20 yard line with deep kickoffs that were not returned for the most part.
Honorable Mention: LB Lavonte David ( eight tackles, 2 passes broken up), Sterling Moore (two tackles, one pass breakup, forced fumble), Henry Melton (fumble recovery), S Chris Conte (five tackles, an interception)
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@example.com
Good ones. Go Bucs!
It’s minor but I would put L. David ahead of D. Martin on this list. When David deflected those passes he dropped directly into the passing lane and he wasn’t even turning his head around until the last second. That’s film study. He knew exactly where that route was going to end up after the snap of the ball and positioned himself perfectly in both situations.
David played a much better game in terms of zone coverage. The first was amazing to me because he even bit on a play fake and was quick enough to drop about 15 yards and make the play. Drews face afterwards said it all.
Lavonte’s stats probably weren’t that great because so many other players were able to make plays!
How did Kyle Brindza not make this list? 4 of 5 field goals, one of which was a 55 yarder and 5 or 6 non-returnable kickoffs. He accounted for 14 points. We wouldn’t have won this game without him.
Mark, you really need to show Kyle some love.
you are absolutely right. I will add him. Meant to and forgot.
Good, Brindza deserves it. David and Conte, especially the way he has been trashed, belong up top-not HM.
Posted a couple of days ago the Bucs had a good chance to win this game.
You are right 76Buc, Conte has taken a lot of ignorant remarks out here on this and other boards from people who are just plain stupid about football.
An INT he was in perfect position to snag and the 4th quarter hit to cause the fumble should shut some of those morons up.
Melton also recovered the fumble, anther FA pickup.
However, I doubt it will shut up the anti Love crowd who dismissed our FA signings.
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J Smith was a one man wrecking crew he was wrecking havok on Brees. Conte and Tandy were nice in the secondary today, Brindza kicked well. D Martin played better than his stats would indicate
What about Louis Murphy as a most impressive? Maybe cuz the Saints focused on other guys,he was a surprise.
Most impressive was we won considering they had five extra guys on the field wearing black and white striped shirts, and throwing yellow flags. Some of the calls on us in the fourth were redunkulous!
I completely agree. For a minute I swear drew breeze paid the refs. The “kicking” call by the center on dougies screen pass play was horrible. So glad we got in the win column. Jameis looked much improved but we shall see how that looks against a top rated Texans defense. We need mike Evans ready to go next week. It’s a winnable game. Go bucs
Much better attitude all around. Last week many seemed to be going through the motions with no emotion. I was worried that Winston would be too tentative but he came out gunning it. Also concerned that the defense would be thinking too much and not just play with some ‘tude.
Give Licht some credit for finding Jaq Smith. This guy was not getting any time on a real good D in Buffalo. looks like he has found a home, and he is only 25.
Gotta give credit to Winston- he bounced back very nicely. Hopefully DE Smith and S Conte play like that every week. The defense played with a sense of urgency, good to see.. D. Martin needs 20+ carries every game
When you have 5 tackles and an interception and are only an honorable mention you know the defense played well.
Totally agree….I wish the BUCS had not gone into their conservative mode late in the fourth quarter. TIME TO FINISH!!!
For as much flack as Chris Conte gets, he deserves his props for yesterday’s performance. He forced the last fumble on Mark Ingram that Melton recovered in addition to the earlier INT. Didn’t let anything past him all game either, most importantly!!
Let’s not forget he was the only Buc who followed the play on the 1st Brees fumble
Everyone is forgetting one thing. Brandin Cooks was on all fantasy teams and was predicted to light up the Bucs. He finished with 5 catches for 62 yards. Whoever covered him all afternoon (Verner?) needs to be on the “best” list!
Smith may be the pass rusher we’ve been looking for. He definitely looked the part last night. Melton/Conte have proven to be valuable FA pickups. Brindza appears to be a very valuable pickup as well. Doug was running great for the 2nd week, as was Sims. It was good to see our entire secondary step up this week. Go Bucs!
I’ve been a little hard on Chris Conte; but, I did note his coverage skills at the same time. Still, I had maybe way to much fun with some of his getting run over by Fred Jackson highlight reel.
With an Int plus the forced fumble, and a tackle for a loss, he can go up to second behind Smith.
I think the growth from Marpet and Smith is a credit to the much maligned Warhop and the hard work of those rookies. It’s not a coincidence the Bucs are more physical and able to run the ball.
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