The Bucs continue to roll, as they pulled off their fourth straight victory Sunday by taking out the Chargers, winners of four of their last six entering the game, 28-21 in San Diego.
Tampa Bay overcame a multitude of injuries on offense, still passing for 280 and running for another 81, while once again coming up with critical second-half takeaways on defense. A pick-six, followed by an interception in the end zone with three minutes left will usually seal a win and the Bucs defense shined again.
Quarterback Jameis Winston, improvising and coming up clutch as he’s done so often, was efficient Sunday even with a depleted receiving corps. Winston completed passes to nine different guys, all of whom seem to contribute with at least one game-changing reception.
Here’s a list of the Bucs Most Impressive players Sunday, according to PewterReport.com.
LB LAVONTE DAVID After missing a couple tackles in the first half, David came on strong for Tampa Bay late in the game, accounting for two of the defenses’ biggest plays. One drive after making a diving effort to break up a pass on third down and force a punt, the outside linebacker intercepted Philip Rivers and took it back from eight yards out to give the Bucs a 17-14 lead. Credit Vernon Hargreaves for tipping the pass right to David, who finished with three tackles.
CB VERNON HARGREAVES III
For the fourth straight week, there has been little activity on Hargreaves side of the field. The rookie corner held Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman in check, forcing Rivers to use the checkdown more than any other throw on Sunday. Putting his physicality on display, Hargreaves also led the team with seven tackles.
S KEITH TANDY
With Tandy getting the start for an injured Chris Conte (chest), many wondered how Philip Rivers would attack the Bucs secondary, specifically their backup safety. They got their answer with just over three minutes left in the game. Rivers, who’s already thrown for over 3,000 yards this season, went for it all in trying to tie it at 28 but Tandy made the play of the game. Last week it was safety Bradley McDougald who iced the victory with an interception. This Sunday it was Keith Tandy, who finished with five tackles in his seventh career start.
TE CAMERON BRATE Catching six passes for 86 yards and the eventual game-winning touchdown, Brate turned in his career-best performance on Sunday. Among his receptions was an 18-yarder before the two-minute warning, a third-and-2 conversion in the third quarter and a 38-yard connection a few drives later. The highlight for Brate, of course, was a 12-yard score, his sixth TD of the year, to go up 28-21 with nine minutes to play.
QB JAMEIS WINSTON
As one might predict, Winston has been one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks during this four-game stretch. With the exception of a few ill-advised decisions Sunday, he continued his hot-streak in San Diego, throwing for 280 yards on 20 of 30 completions with one TD and one INT. Already without Vincent Jackson, Winston lost two more receivers – Adam Humphries (concussion) and Cecil Shorts (knee) – but still managed to spread the ball around. Nine different guys caught passes and the second-year quarterback continued to evade pressure and improvise on key plays, including the 2-point conversion.
WR FREDDIE MARTINO After Humphries left with a concussion, Martino entered the game and hauled in four passes for 56 yards. Two of his receptions went for 16 and 17 yards. Before Sunday, Martino, undrafted out of North Greenville in 2014, had two career catches. He doubled his previous total in San Diego, exemplifying the next-man-up motto the Bucs have lived by. Considering the circumstance, he was unmistakably one of the Bucs most impressive players Sunday.
DE NOAH SPENCE
He didn’t record a sack or tackle, but anyone watching could see Spence forcing Rivers into quick decisions and early throws. He was successful in closing the pocket and setting up interior guys for big plays. Spence, who started the year as a designated pass rusher, continues to play well against the run and give the Bucs more pressure from the outside
DE ROBERT AYERS
On what ended up being the Chargers final drive, down 28-21 to start, Ayers recorded a crucial sack on first down. San Diego would convert – eventually throwing an interception –but the first-down play set the tone and helped to drain the clock. He also pressured Rivers throughout the game. On a day where the Chargers rushed for 125, Ayers added three tackles.
Honorable Mention: Mike Evans (three catches for 38 yards and a 2-point conversion), Bryan Anger (54-yard punt in the third quarter to pin San Diego at its own 8-yard line and set the defense up for a pick-six)
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: email@example.com
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