The Tampa Bay Bucs snapped their two-game losing streak on the road to improve to 8-3 with a 38-31, comeback win at Indianapolis. The Bucs trailed 24-14 at halftime, but used three second half takeaways to score 17 unanswered points to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Led by outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay’s defense had three sacks and five takeaways. Running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 100 yards and scored a total of four touchdowns as the offense finally scored more than 30 points in a road game this season.
Here were the most impressive Buccaneers in the win against the Colts:
RB Leonard Fournette
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With the Colts playing so much deep zone, Fournette became an instrumental weapon for quarterback Tom Brady underneath, catching seven passes for 31 yards and a touchdown. He also added 100 yards on the ground on 17 carries and three rushing scores. While trying to get the Bucs into field goal range, he ripped off a 28-yard touchdown run to give the team a 38-31 lead. That’s the most TDs that Fournette has scored in any game in his five-year NFL career. Look for Fournette to become the NFC Offensive Player of the Week this week with a 130-yard day with four TDs.
OLB Shaquil Barrett
Right after getting a 5-yard neutral zone infraction penalty, Barrett made up for it with a sack of Carson Wentz. That play snapped a three-game sackless streak for Barrett, who hadn’t captured a quarterback in over a month. In fact, his last sack came against Chicago on October 24. Barrett’s second sack of the game was even better, forcing a fumble, which was much-needed takeaway on Indianapolis’ first drive of the second half. That helped key a 17-point second half for the Bucs that gave the Bucs a 31-24 lead in the fourth quarter before the Colts tied it up late. Barrett had a game-high eight tackles, and now has 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on the season.
ILB Lavonte David
Bucs ILB Lavonte David – Photo by: USA Today
Outside of Bucs legends Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks, no other Tampa Bay defender has been around the ball more than David. The veteran linebacker recovered a fumble that was forced by defensive back Mike Edwards in the first quarter and returned it to the Colts 34 yard line to set up Tampa Bay’s first score. With linebacker Devin White leaving the game early in the first quarter due to a hip injury, David had to step and make a play and did for Tampa Bay. David also had a huge pass breakup on a throw to tight end Jack Doyle with 10 seconds left. He finished with seven tackles.
TE Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski returned to the lineup last week and had six catches for 71 yards against the Giants last week. He had 71 yards receiving on five receptions Sunday in Indianapolis at halftime, including a 26-yarder to help set up a touchdown. Gronk was just as big in the second half with a 32-yard catch-and-run. He finished the game with seven catches for a season-high 123 yards.
FS Antoine Winfield, Jr.
Winfield came up with a huge second half interception, out-leaping 6-foot-4 receiver Michael Pittman for the ball. That was Winfield’s second interception of the season and it was an incredibly timely play. Gronkowski called it one of the most athletic interceptions he’d ever seen. Winfield was also stout in run support, finishing with seven tackles.
DB Mike Edwards
Bucs FS Antoine Winfield, Jr. – Photo by: USA Today
Edwards continue to make plays in the slot for the Bucs in place of Ross Cockrell. Last week against the Giants, Edwards recorded his third interception of the season. On Sunday versus the Colts, Edwards punched the ball out of tight end Mo Alie-Cox’s hands for his first forced fumble of the season. That fumble set the Bucs up for their first touchdown of the game. Edwards also had a huge special teams tackle at the Bucs’ 32-yard line on a 71-yard kickoff return to prevent a potential game-tying touchdown with just 19 seconds left. The third-year safety also had great coverage on Michael Pittman on Wentz’s last-gasp Hail Mary attempt, boxing him out and allowing cornerback Pierre Desir to get the game-clinching interception. Edwards finished with two tackles.
WR Scotty Miller
Miller suited up for the first time since injuring his foot in Week 3 and made an impact even though he didn’t catch a pass. The speedy receiver didn’t track his first deep target properly and that resulted in an untimely interception in the first half. But in the second half he drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty on Colts cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to set Tampa Bay up at the Indianapolis 15-yard line. Fournette would punch it in for his third touchdown three plays later to pull the Bucs within 24-21. But Miller made an even bigger play as a gunner in the fourth quarter when he dove on a loose ball that was fumbled by Colts returner Nyheim Hines on a fair catch punt return.
CB Pierre Desir
The former Colts cornerback gave up a touchdown right before halftime to help put Tampa Bay in a 24-14 hole. But he came up with a huge, game-clinching interception, his second of the season, as time expired. Desir, who was playing for an injured Jamel Dean, ended the game with that pick and allowed the Bucs to move to 8-3 on the season.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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