When Jameis Winston stepped up to the podium at One Buc Place on Wednesday he didn’t talk much about the game he played against the Falcons, but answered more about the team around him following such a complimentary win in Tampa Bay’s 35-22 victory over the Falcons on Sunday.
The Bucs’ secondary held Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in check, notching 16 pass breakups as a team, Vita Vea became the heaviest player in NFL history to score an receiving touchdown and Chris Godwin was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week following his seven-catch, career-high 184-yard performance against Atlanta.
“He’s a grinder,” Winston said about Godwin. “He’s tough to bring down and explosive when the ball gets into his hands. You love having guys like that.”
“I think the biggest difference is that he’s playing more,” Winston said. “He’s getting more exposure, playing inside, playing outside so he’s actually able to get into a rhythm, get into a consistent rhythm, I mean he rarely comes off of the field. The more chances you have to get him the ball the more opportunities he has to shine.”
While Godwin had two impressive receptions on Winston’s first two touchdowns of the game, joining Mike Evans as two of three receivers to eclipse 1,000 yards so far this season, the fifth-year quarterback’s third passing score came from an unlikely source, his 347-pound defensive tackle turned offensive specialist, Vea.
“I was excited,” Winston said about the first time Vea joined the offensive hustle in practice. “We had Gerald [McCoy] do some goal line stuff for us a while back but it’s always good to get a defensive guy out there. Every time he’s involved in a play he shows up and shows out. It’s just that mentality, you want a guy on offense with a defensive mentality. I think that’s kind of how Chris is and why Chris plays so physical. It’s good for everybody when Vita’s having fun and we’re having fun as a team.”
Vea also added a sack as the defense had one of their most complete games of the season, especially in the young secondary as the team stacked up pass breakup after pass breakup while Carlton Davis hauled in his first career interception.
“They’re getting better every week,” Winston said about cornerbacks Davis and Jamel Dean.” And I’ve always known how talented they were but when you can go into Atlanta against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, two of the best receiving duos playing against eachother, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley versus our two guys, that’s tough. . . They continue to play with great confidence and they’re getting comfortable. They’re young, so they just had to get adjusted to it and they’re doing a great job.”
While the defense was able to hold Atlanta in check following two early turnovers from Winston, the offensive line were the unsung heroes on Sunday, keeping a clean pocket for Winston and holding Atlanta without a sack as he responded with a solid three-touchdown performance.
“It was phenomenal, it was phenomenal,” Winston said about his protection. “The way that Atlanta rushed the previous two games, we were expecting that we would have to be firm because they have a good D-Line but we did an outstanding job in protection, whether that’s [Harold Goodwin] and [Byron Leftwich] and [Joe Gilbert] working on the protection meetings and those guys just being gritty and outworking the guy across from them. It’s always good to be clean there in the pocket.”