NFor the first time since 1987, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick and selected former Florida State Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. The area is abuzz with excitement for the Bucs news quarterback, one the fans and the organization hope becomes a franchise quarterback, and can lead the Buccaneers back to the playoffs for the first time since Jon Gruden roamed the sidelines at Raymond James Stadium.
PewterReport.com has chronicled Winston’s practice reports throughout training camp and the preseason, and now breaks down his performances in the regular season.
Winston’s First Drive – Falcons 0, Bucs 0
After six carries by Doug Martin picked up 26 yards, Winston completed a 5-yard pass to tight end Cameron Brate on third-and-12, but the Bucs had to punt from the Falcons’ 41.
Winston was 1-of-1 for 5 yards
Winston’s Second Drive – Falcons 0, Bucs 0
On first down, Winston completed a 15-yard pass to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to the Tampa Bay 38. On first down, his pass to Martin was incomplete. After a few runs by Martin, Winston’s deep pass to Evans was broken up. Winston then came back with an 18-yard gain to Charles Sims down to the Falcons 33. On first-and-20, Winston rolled right and hit Evans with a gain of 14. Winston’s first down pass to Seferian-Jenkins was incomplete. On second-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Winston scrambled right and dove in for his fifth rushing touchdown this season to give Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead.
Winston was 3-of-6 for 47 yards with a 5-yard touchdown run
Winston’s Third Drive – Bucs 7, Falcons 3
On second-and-7, Evans hauls in a 10-yard pass to set up a first-and-10 from the Bucs’ 21. On second-and-13, Winston’s pass to Martin picked up five yards. On third-and-8, Winston rifled a 36-yard gain to Vincent Jackson for a big gain down to the Atlanta 41. On second down, Winston’s pass to Seferian-Jenkins was overthrown.
Winston was 3-of-4 for 51 yards
Winston’s Fourth Drive – Bucs 7, Falcons 6
Winston’s pass to Seferian-Jenkins picked up eight yards. On the next play, Evans picked up 15 yards on a great throw by Winston. The rookie QB’s pass was high on the next throw and went off Evans’ hands and was intercepted by Desmond Trufant at the Tampa Bay 43.
Winston was 2-of-3 for 23 yards and one interception
Winston’s Fifth Drive – Falcons 12, Bucs 7
On first-and-20 from the Tampa Bay 19, Winston hit Brate for a gain of seven yards. On second-and-13, Winston rocketed a pass to Jackson for a gain of 29 yards down to the Falcons’ 45. On second-and-5 from the Atlanta 11, Winston hit tight end Luke Stocker for a gain of 4. Two plays later, Martin dove over the top for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Bucs a 13-12 lead. Winston’s two-point conversion pass to Adam Humphries was incomplete.
Winston was 3-of-3 for 40 yards
Winston’s Sixth Drive – Bucs 13, Falcons 12
On Winston’s first pass of the drive on second-and-goal from the Atlanta 5, his pass was incomplete. On third-and-goal from the 5, Winston’s pass into the end zone to Seferian-Jenkins was dropped. Connor Barth’s 23-yard field goal was good to give Tampa Bay a 16-12 lead.
Winston was 0-of-2
Winston’s Seventh Drive – Bucs 16, Falcons 12
Winston found Evans for a gain of 16 yards to the Atlanta 48 on first down. Martin fumbled on the next play.
Winston was 1-of-1 for 16 yards
Winston’s Eighth Drive – Falcons 19, Bucs 16
Winston’s screen pass to Sims picked up three yards. His pass to Jackson on second-and-7 was incomplete. Winston’s pass on third down was incomplete.
Winston was 1-of-3 for 3 yards
Winston’s Ninth Drive – Falcons 19, Bucs 16
Winston’s first pass of the drive came on second-and-9 from the 21-yard and traveled 22 yards into the arms of Jackson for a big first down. On second-and-5 from the Bucs’ 48, Winston’s pass to Evans was deflected and intercepted by Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow, but Atlanta was guilty of pass interference, which gave the Bucs a first down. On second-and-7, Winston’s 8-yard pass to Seferian-Jenkins picked up a first down to the Atlanta 34-yard line. On first-and-20, Winston’s pass to Humphries picked up six yards. Winston was sacked on the next play to set up third-and-19 from the Atlanta. On third-and-19, Winston had an amazing 20-yard scramble to get a first down to the 12-yard line. On third-and-4 from the Atlanta 6, Winston scrambled to the right and found Evans for a touchdown to give the Bucs a 23-19 lead with 1:39 left.
Winston was 4-of-4 for 42 yards with a touchdown and a 20-yard run
Winston’s Tenth Drive – Bucs 23, Falcons 19
Winston kneeled three times for a loss of 10 yards and took a delay of game call to help run time off the clock following Lavonte David’s game-clinching interception of Matt Ryan.
Winston had three carries for minus-10 yards
When the Bucs needed Winston to come through the most, he was perfect on Tampa Bay’s game-winning drive, completing all four of his passes for 42 yards and a 6-yard touchdown to Evans.
“This is the story that everybody needs to talk about,” Winston said. “I go into the huddle – after that long drive, guys are tired – I said, ‘Who wants a touchdown?’ I smiled and said, ‘Who wants a touchdown?’ Mike said, ‘Me, me me!’ [laughter]. I said, ‘All right.’ And that’s the honest to God truth. That’s what literally happened. I said, ‘Who wants the touchdown?’ I wish the center was mic’d up, but Mike said, ‘Me, me, me!’ There were a couple other guys who said, ‘Me,’ too, but Mike was like a kid – ‘Me, me, me!’ – and I got him the ball.”
Bucs head coach Lovie Smith praised Winston’s ability to make plays with his feet. Aside from his game-winning touchdown pass, Winston scrambled for a first down on a 20-yard run on third-and-19.
“For you that know him, it’s not like we are totally surprised that he would come through with a big play like that,” Smith said. “He seems to surprise us daily with some of the things he can do. In times like that we needed one of our best players to step up and make a big play. He did it.”
After running for 10 yards it appeared like Winston was stopped, but linebackers Paul Worrilow and Phillip Wheeler didn’t wrap up the rookie quarterback, who rambled for 10 more yards to get the first down.
“That’s why I kept running,” Winston said. “It was a blessing. To see Logan Mankins and Donovan Smith running down the field, throwing blocks – I cannot go down, I can’t go down. Guys just [kept] blocking and they pushed me to work.”
Winston praised God for his ability to will the Bucs to victory in the fourth quarter.
“God is good,” Winston said. “When guys want it, when guys are out there, fighting and battling together, that’s what we’re here for. That’s what we play football for. That’s what y’all come to see. God is good, man.”
Winston kicked off the Bucs’ scoring in the first quarter with a 5-yard touchdown, which his fifth rushing TD this season.
“I think he’s a ball player,” Smith said. “I think he can throw the ball. When you say the look you would like for the quarterback throwing the ball – to me, Jameis. Tell me a better running quarterback in the league right now than Jameis Winston right now. After that run, I’d say he’s a pretty good runner, too. I think he fits the profile. Right up until the end there was confidence that he had that we can go down and score again.”
Winston said that the Falcons identified the Bucs’ play call pre-snap and he had to improvise to get the ball in the end zone in the first quarter.
“No. 55 [Falcons LB Worrilow] on the other side is a great player,” Winston said. “During that drive, he called out at least five our plays. He’s that smart. On that play, we heard him call out the play and it was like, ‘They got us,’ but we didn’t stop. And those guys, we kept blocking.
“[Demar Dotson] sealed the edge and I got around and we scored. That’s the thing about this team, if you get us, we don’t care. We’re going to keep fighting. And that’s how we’ve been playing it. And you see when things go our way, we get wins.”
Winston’s fifth rushing touchdown of the season moved Winston past Josh Freeman and Doug Williams, who was inducted to the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime of the Falcons game, and into a tie with Steve Young and Shaun King with the most rushing TDs in a year in franchise history. After the game, Winston noted the relationship he and Williams have.
“Yes, I was talking to him this whole week,” Winston said. “He played and didn’t want to talk to me during the week because of the preparation, but I’m pretty sure we’ll probably have dinner tonight.”
A celebratory dinner is in order for Tampa Bay’s return to .500 with a 6-6 record and the fact that the Bucs are still very much alive for a Wild Card playoff spot thanks to Winston’s heroics.
PewterReport.com Analysis: With the Buccaneers’ playoffs hopes on the line, Winston came through with one of his best performances of the season. Winston showed his multi-dimensional ability as a football player against the Falcons, running for a 5-yard TD in the first quarter and coming up with a huge, tackle-breaking 20-yard scramble on third-and-19 on Tampa Bay’s game-winning touchdown drive that was capped off with a 6-yard touchdown on third-and-4 with less than two minutes left. The victory marked the third time Winston led the Bucs on a game-winning drive and it was his second fourth-quarter comeback.
Winston’s Final Stats: 18-of-27 (66.6 percent) for 227 yards with one touchdown, one interception and five carries for 15 yards (3.0 avg.) and a rushing TD while being sacked once
PewterReport.com Game Grade: B+