The Bucs started to look like the team we expected them to be, as they defeated the Vikings 26-14 in a critical game that affected the wildcard standings. Though they got some help with a number of missed kicks, the Bucs made big plays of their own that included a deep ball down the field for a score and some timely pass rushing to close the game out.

Here are the most impressive players from the Bucs’ win at home.

OLB Shaq Barrett
Ever since Barrett moved over to the right side last game, there’s been a significant improvement from him on the pass rush. Barrett was relentless off the edge, recording two sacks in two important moments. Barrett’s sack of Kirk Cousins on the opening drive of the game knocked the Vikings out of field goal range, and his second sack in the fourth quarter pushed Minnesota back and made kicker Dan Bailey miss one of his three field goals, keeping it a two-possession game. Barrett finished his afternoon with four tackles and two sacks.

DT Ndamukong Suh 
After a costly offsides penalty that eventually led to Minnesota’s first touchdown of the game, Suh turned it up and put on a great performance. Outside of Barrett, he was the Bucs’ best pass rusher, as he constantly was forcing pressure up the middle and getting in Cousins’ face. Suh also made a nice stop on a third-and-1, dropping fullback C.J. Ham short of the marker to set up fourth down. Suh’s final stat line was six tackles and a sack in the game.

Bucs’ Pass Rush 
I’ve already highlighted Barrett and Suh so far, but it really was a collective effort. Tampa Bay’s defense ended up with six sacks coming from five different players. They particularly dialed it up when they had an opportunity to close out the game up by two scores. It was “hunting season” as Bruce Arians put it, and contributions were coming from everywhere. Four-year backup Pat O’Connor was one of the players to record a sack, which was especially exciting knowing the work he’s put into his career just to make the team each season. Joining Barrett, Suh and O’Connor in getting to Cousins was Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jason Pierre-Paul, who both forced a fumble on their sacks, with Pierre-Paul recovering his.

WR Scotty Miller
He only made one catch in the game, but it was a play that ignited the Bucs and got them on the board. Miller caught a superbly thrown 48-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady that put the Bucs up 7-6. We haven’t seen Miller make an impact on the team for a couple weeks, but when he’s involved, the Bucs have been at their best offensively. Miller was able to take the top off of the defense as the Bucs got back to connecting on the deep ball from Brady. What made the play even more highlight-reel worthy was that his face mask was grabbed on the play.

Bucs’ Offensive Line
Normally the unsung heroes on any team, this entire unit deserves a ton of credit for how they played on Sunday. Tom Brady was not sacked at all, nor was he really even pressured that much. He had time to throw all game, and at times he needed it to read out the defense and make the appropriate throw. In the run game, the Bucs went over 100 yards rushing in the game and had a great drive to open the third quarter that featured LeSean McCoy. On that drive, McCoy had four runs in a row that resulted in two first downs, 34 yards total, and runs of 10 and 14 yards. McCoy created a little bit, but the blocking by the line up front was instrumental in springing the veteran back. Between Donovan Smith playing with an injured ankle to Tristan Wirfs continuing an outstanding rookie season, there’s a lot to like about what the Bucs offensive line did. If they keep that up, the Bucs will be in good shape for the last three games of the season.

Honorable Mention: RB LeSean McCoy

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About the Author: Matt Matera

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PewterHeart
6 months ago

Good game, defense should have had at least 4 more sacks, but cousins slipped away- barely.
How about putting our kicker on this list? The man has been great all season.
Rojo keeps making plays when it matters most, funny how things work out when you play to your strengths 🤷‍♂️

JSW
JSW
Reply to  PewterHeart
6 months ago

Our kicker has been great all season – but he flat out missed an extra-point today. Not “impressive” in my book.

toucan
Reply to  JSW
6 months ago

Kickers are missing PATs all around the league.

seat26
Reply to  PewterHeart
6 months ago

I agree. The Kicker has been outstanding. If he kicked more often he would probably be a shoo-in for Pro Bowl.

PatrioticChief
6 months ago

Good list. The Brady throw to Miller was an absolute dime but he missed two throws that he should have made and would have gotten him on this list.

RW
RW
Reply to  PatrioticChief
6 months ago

What I find funny is that some people expect Brady to make perfect throws every time. He made perfect throws to Miller and Evans on deep balls but that’s not enough.

JSW
JSW
Reply to  RW
6 months ago

Yeah, but he missed Gronk and Godwin on WIDE OPEN plays that weren’t nearly as long – WIDE OPEN! Those are plays we are going to have to have against better competition.

PewterHeart
Reply to  JSW
6 months ago

Noone sees what the quarterback sees.

bucballer
Reply to  RW
6 months ago

We don’t expect Brady to be perfect. It is surprising when he misses so ugly though on two touch passes. Those r throws Brady makes with one eye closed. That’s all. Everyone can always improve. Brady played well today. Just those two very ugly… Jim Plunkett type ducks.

Dave
Reply to  RW
6 months ago

Oh you didn’t know? Brady can’t miss throws. He’s not allowed to. The amazing thing is that inside 15 yards, he’s as accurate and deadly as any QB in the entire league. Even at 43. Almost all of his misses are 20+ yards. Much rather a QB that’s nearly automatic from 0-15 yds, but hit or miss from 20+. As opposed to a QB that’s 65/35 on the short stuff and 35/65 on the deep stuff(Jameis)

JSW
JSW
Reply to  PatrioticChief
6 months ago

That ball went at least 57 yards in the air. Brady has still got an arm!!!

bucballer
Reply to  JSW
6 months ago

Brady has never had an arm strength problem. That’s the media bias. Brady has gone deep this year more times than in recent years… he’s got better talent!

bucballer
Reply to  PatrioticChief
6 months ago

Hey PChief… I was wondering about those 2 throws as well. Brady threw two ducks that weren’t even close and required touch to complete. Other than those 2 I thought Brady played well.

PatrioticChief
Reply to  bucballer
6 months ago

Yeah those were easy throws. Still a solid game but he will want those throws back.

RW
RW
Reply to  PatrioticChief
6 months ago

Easy? No. Would Brady like them back? of course.

PatrioticChief
Reply to  RW
6 months ago

They were wide open players. Those were easy throws by Brady standards. This site is so strange sometimes. Folk crush Brady for not producing when he’s being slaughtered up front but aren’t willing to call him out for missing a couple easy throws when he’s not under pressure. It’s perplexing.

Dave
Reply to  PatrioticChief
6 months ago

What’s perplexing to me is that Brady is on pace for 4300 yds, 65% 40 total TD’s vs 15 total TO’s, to go along with only 20 sacks. And has the Bucs 8-5 and on pace for their first playoff berth in 12 years. Yet, even in wins, if the dude misses a couple throws, some people still are all over him for it. You guys must really not watch a lot of football. Mahomes misses plenty of layups. Rodgers misses plenty of layups. Wilson misses plenty of layups. As does Watson, Brees, Big Ben, etc.. they ALL miss layups.… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Dave
toucan
Reply to  PatrioticChief
6 months ago

True. Brady would tell you that he would like those two throws back.

captain ahab
6 months ago

There were some individual performances at critical parts of the game that should be acknowledged. Overall with the talent of this team, the total play of this Bucs team is very concerning. Dalvin Cook ran through our defensive front, and time and time again Kirk Cousins made clutch throws against our pourous defensive secondary. The Vikings are a decent 500 team, and a win is a win and is all good and fine in the standings. If the Bucs want to make some noise in the playoffs, the need to perform at a higher level then this. This team shows… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by captain ahab
scubog
Reply to  captain ahab
6 months ago

That “pourous” secondary gave up less than 200 yards passing and that was mostly to the TE’s. The highly touted Jefferson and Thielen were fairly quiet.

Dave
Reply to  scubog
6 months ago

Exactly scubog. The combination of JJ and A.Thielen were held to 12 tgt 7 rec 78 yds 0 TD’s, and a long catch of 17 yds. I’d call that a massive win

Dave
Reply to  captain ahab
6 months ago

Dalvin Cook ran through our defensive front time and time again? He had 102 yds at 4.6 ypc. Wouldn’t call that running through our defensive front time and time again. He came in averaging 115 yds per game at 5 ypc. We held him under his season average on both. Coming into the game, Cook had 7 games of 20+ carries. And in those games, he averaged 145 yds per game, and 5.3 ypc. In 8 games with 20+ carries, only the Bears held him to less yards(96). And out of 22 carries, his long was 14. Bash the run… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Dave
Horse
6 months ago

Where’s your team stats and Team roster? This website really needs some love

bucballer
Reply to  Horse
6 months ago

I’ve been try to get PR to update their team roster for two years… it’s just doesn’t seem to be a priority for them. I used that roster a lot as I’m always looking for players numbers or names.

scubog
Reply to  bucballer
6 months ago

I keep my own.

jiggyjoe
6 months ago

I would have added the kicker. You don’t have to look to far to see what happens if your kicker has problems…

JSW
JSW
6 months ago

I enjoyed watching Shady run today! I think he has the best vision of our RBs. Too bad he doesn’t still have RoJo’s explosion. Too bad RoJo doesn’t have his vision. Too bad our run game doesn’t have more diversity. We need more counter-action and off tackle runs – just more creativity in the run game.

compewterpirate
6 months ago

To be fair Matt, I think you should have included their kicker on this list! I have never seen a kicker in an NFL game with a 100% success rate for the other team, from 4 or more kicks. Now that’s impressive, no-one contributed more to our success!

scubog
6 months ago

Having the ball on offense for only 1/3 of the game sure limited the opportunities to be impressive. Likewise the defense was on the field for 2/3 of the game. Vikings came in here as one of the hottest teams in the league boasting a dynamic RB, two solid receivers and a QB who makes few mistakes. Yet, the defense, in spite of the criticism, gave up a mere 14 points. OK, put an asterisk for the missed kicks if you want. Fact is, the game was played with the scoreboard in mind. 8 dash 5 is way better than… Read more »

fredster
6 months ago

Our d line had some good success in second half that somewhat baled out the secondary that seemed to be floundering as usual. Tackling still poor after bye is not cool.
Also some Saying yeah well they only allowed 14 points when the kicker left 10 on The board doesn’t make me feel better. This defense was bad especially first half. They have some things to clean up pronto or will be one and done in playoffs.

Spitfire
6 months ago

That offsides penalty was the biggest crock of s**t. That was about the best jump a Dlineman can get but was far from offsides. The officials are probably watching us closer due to how many times we do jump but still that was garbage. That and the unnecessary roughness penalty made it seem like the fix was in again for sure from the officials but it calmed down after that. Even if the missed kicks were made we still would have won the game. It may not have been our prettiest win but it was great to see everyone get… Read more »

owlykat
6 months ago

I kept worrying that they were wearing out our Defense with how long they were on the field but they never wore down. It was amazing to me how good of shape they were in and how resolute they were. Bodes well for the playoffs!

Buc stops here
6 months ago

I was more impressed on the lack of mistakes. Yes, those individuals played well but the whole team played near error free football (like they did against Green Bay). Minnesota lost because while they beat the Bucs in most statistical categories (yards of offense, yards passing, yards rushing, time of possession, and a huge advantage in first downs) they fell down on hard on mistakes. They missed three field goals and an extra point, 10 points in all. Make those points and it is a 2 point game. They turned the ball over. They had a bunch of sacks (thanks… Read more »

toucan
6 months ago

Wirfs is becoming a good candidate for left tackle when Donovan leaves the game. He is playing great for a rookie lineman. Running on the Bucs is much easier with Vita Vea out.Duh !! He takes up a lot of space and is hard to move out.

Last edited 6 months ago by toucan