Bucs TE Cameron Brate – Photo by: Getty Images
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 protected]
I add McCoy to the list. And I know why David had to be on the list, but his pass defense hasn’t been great lately. Go Bucs!
I’ll add Defensive Coordinator to the list. He made a few corrections and shut down Rivers and the Chargers in the second half.
Good call scu. Mike smith has done amazing things and deserves a ton of credit. From what I was watching yesterday, he sat down with the defense after the Atlanta game and asked the players themselves what they could do to be better. The players themselves pointed out what they need to work on and he went with it. Since then they’ve been lights out. So proud of this team
Agree with all cited by Zach as well as artpac and Scubog.
The team performance was the most impressive …. unsung people stepping up and doing their jobs even when teammates are going down. It’s flat out amazing what our coaches and GM are accomplishing with undrafted free agents – two on this list (Brate and Martino) are UDFAs, and another (Tandy) was a sixth rounder.
ALL of the above! The young Buccaneers are ALL very impressive IMO. A huge win, a tough road win setting up a home game to be remembered next Sunday.
No mention of the O-Line which I think did a great job in pass protection at times Winston could have tied his shoes in the pocket
Honestly , I think this is the worst game the Line has had in 3 weeks. There was quite a few times I remember Jameis saving the lines ass with his movement. And Dotson is still a flag machine. Marpet is playing lights out as well, but not the best game for the line this week in my opinion.
Winston does scramble but he holds the ball for 5-7 seconds while scanning the field its not like Winston is much of a timing route qb he is like Big Ben he holds the ball runs around awkwardly and finds the open guy at the last minute, with those qb’s the o-line can’t hold blocks forever
What game did you watch? The Chargers were all in the backfield all game.
Put Doug on the list also. Winston would have been killed if Doug wasn’t chipping block back there.
The O Line played well enough to keep a very potent Chargers pass rush at bay.
I agree with all of the above. This team reminds me of the early New England team when it was forming. People asking “who are those guys?” and the next man up mentality. Also, a few years ago when a good Seattle team was clobbered by injuries and just kept winning with “nobody’s”.
Further, this was the kind of trap game the Bucs used to lose.
@jongruden the O line did hold up pretty well protecting the pass, hate to see Jameis really scramble too much, I appreciate he tries to get rid of the ball but he got away with an ill advised toss away in the 1st half. The O line seemed useless in run blocking. Doug and Jacquizz are trying to run north and there are no holes. Too many carries going for 1 or none.
People are forgetting that San Diego had and still has an excellent run-stopping defense – ranked fourth in the league on run defense. And Jameis was sacked only once yesterday, SD got only 5 hits on him, and he had a very clean pocket on a bunch of his pass plays. Yes, Jameis had to scramble on quite a few plays too, but that seems to be where he’s at his best.
Keep in mind also that Jameis does NOT have a quick release, and he and Koetter both say without reservation that Jameis always hates to give up on any play. So that puts a large burden on his line to protect him for extended periods.
The O-line didn’t perform as badly as some suggest here.
Another Great Win!!! Noah Spence would have had a sack if Rivers didn’t prevent it by throwing the ball away which Rivers was flagged for intentional grounding, What a win WOO HOOOO!!!!! GO BUCS!!!
There was mulitple plays that Spence created. His stats won’t show it, but he was incredible again.
Right on cgmaster27.
It’s a good afternoon in Tampa folks. Now that was a good football game.
Good list Zach.
You forgot to include McCoy. He was double teamed all day playing hurt. Still got a sack and some pressure. Noah Spence had a great day because Gerald required 2 blockers. Some times you can’t see greatness.
I’d also like to include the scout who found Cameron Brate. Was it just luck that Brate is this good or did someone recognize this. I don’t know How or who found him, I’d like to say THANK YOU. Brate is as good as Greg Olsen right now.
Agree completely Chett. McCoy, who I have lashed out at at times myself has been playing great ball recently. I think having a healthy Ayers and Spence help out Mccoy as well. As for Brate, that’s just one of the many snags by Licht. I know people were chirping about him earlier in the year, but he has put together a fantastic roster. Everyone will point out the Roberto pick, but he has built the Nucleus of this team since coming here. I mean Licht is like a practice squad wizard and give the coaches props for having guys ready when they need to be.
I think the bucs punter should be mentioned as most impressive… He has been kicking the heck out of the ball .
jongruden, I noticed your return last week but didn’t have time to recognize you.
Are the Cardinals that far out of the playoff race you have returned?
I did notice they beat the Redskins last week but was that to little to late.
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