Rapid Reaction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25, Cincinnati Bengals 11


It’s been over a year since Lovie Smith was hired as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tonight, he finally won his first home game, as the Bucs defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 25-11, at Raymond James Stadium.

The starting units on both offense and defense performed well in extended action. Let’s breakdown the top storylines from tonight’s victory.

Jameis Winston and Mike Glennon had strong games.

The potential franchise quarterback continued to make strides, going 8-for-13 for 90 pass yards and a nifty rushing touchdown off of a bootleg. He looked strong in the pocket, making throws all over the field. Furthermore, almost every decision he made was a good one, except for an intentional grounding call late in his outing.

Although a rolled ankle ended his night a little early, Smith said Winston will be good to go next week against the Browns in what should be a dress rehearsal for his NFL regular season debut in Week 1 against No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans at home.

Meanwhile, his backup also looked strong. Glennon was poised against pressure, making a lot of great passes to the young receivers who are trying to make the roster behind second-year man Mike Evans and veterans Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy.

ESPN’s Jon Gruden wouldn’t stop talking about Glennon. Although the calls to trade him might grow louder with this fine performance, the best place for the third-year pro is right behind Winston.

The return of the Muscle Hamster.

After a stellar rookie season, followed by two rocky, injury-plagued seasons, Doug Martin is heading into a put up or shut up season. Luckily, he has a staunch supporter in new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who continues to feed the ball to the fourth-year back. Fine by Martin.

The Muscle Hamster continued the late season renaissance from last year, picking up 59 yards on six attempts, including a pretty crazy 30-yard run which would lead to Winston’s rushing score. As long as he continues to show that he has regained his 2012 Pro Bowl form, Koetter will continue feeding him the football in order to keep defenses honest.

Penalties put a damper on an otherwise great game.

This tweet from Bleacher Report’s Luke Easterling should tell you all you need to know about the Bucs’ poor discipline tonight.

That is just ridiculous, even with the defense’s great outing (more on that in a sec). The offense was particularly to blame, racking up an inexcusable ten penalties, mostly on the first-team offensive line in the first half.

Although Winston and Glennon dug them out of the long yardage situations at least a couple of times tonight, Koetter’s offense won’t be able to thrive if the players keep shooting themselves in the foot. Offensive discipline is going to be a key area of focus moving forward.

The defense was on their A-game tonight.

Against a pretty good Bengals offense, led by quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J Green, the Bucs’ first-team defense forced three turnovers: two Dalton interceptions (although one was right off the hands of Green), and a fumble by second-year running back Jeremy Hill.

Cornerback Alterraun Verner returned the interception off Green’s hands for a touchdown, and safety Bradley McDougald returned Dalton’s second interception all the way to the Cincinnati 11-yard line.

Furthermore, linebackers Kwon Alexander and Danny Lansanah were forces to be reckoned with. Alexander, the fourth round rookie out of LSU, has seized the starting middle linebacker spot from free agent addition Bruce Carter and is going to run away with it.

Alexander had four solo tackles, and was in or around half a dozen more. He plays fast and smart, and seems like the perfect candidate to run the Tampa 2. Meanwhile, Lansanah continued to show why he should keep his starting job over Carter, impressing in his time with both the starting and second-team defensive units. He had three solo tackles, including one for a loss. He deserves to remain the starting strong side linebacker.

Quick Hits: Evans (hamstring) and nickel cornerback Leonard Johnson (ankle) sat out the rest of the game following their injuries…. Kicker Patrick Murray had an up and down game, missing an extra point and a 50 yard field goal, but making a 53-yarder… Both USF products on the roster in center Jeremiah Warren and cornerback Mike Jenkins had solid games. Warren filled in for starting center Evan Smith, who was out with a groin injury. Jenkins played well in the competition to be the main backup to starting cornerbacks Verner and Johnthan Banks.

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