Rapid Reaction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10, Dallas Cowboys 6


It was low scoring. It was gutsy. It was mistake filled. And it probably caused a lot of Bucs fans to shake their head and shout multiple times throughout the afternoon for different reasons. But it doesn’t matter. A win is a win. Here are the four biggest takeaways from the Bucs’ 10-6 victory over the Cowboys at home that brought them to 4-5 on the season.

1. Jameis Winston once again proves why he will be the franchise quarterback that the Bucs have never had.

Yeah, he definitely had his bad moments. Two interceptions that were caused by bad throws. A fumble on the play before the game winning touchdown run that would have resulted in the Bucs’ sixth loss of the season if not for a holding penalty on Dallas’ Jeff Heath. But his game winning bootleg from one yard out gave the Bucs their fourth victory of the season. Let’s see that play one more time.

Great call there by offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter for the win. But that just goes to show that the Bucs are willing to live and die at the hands of their rookie quarterback. Although he didn’t have the gaudiest stat line (22 of 39 for 264 yards to go along with the two picks and the game winning rushing touchdown), he was cool, calm and collected. Despite being under duress from a Cowboys pass rush that only got better as the game progressed, Winston persevered. The future continues to get brighter here in the Bay Area.

2. The defense bent but did not break.

There’s a reason why the Cowboys only scored six points all game. Did the absence of quarterback Tony Romo play a part? Of course it did. However, the blame for this loss should not be put on Matt Cassel at all. Part of it was the lack of execution and mistakes by the Dallas offense.

However, most of it was a strong defensive outing by Lovie Smith’s maligned unit. Linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David were all over the field throughout the game. Smith and his coaches finally found an effective cornerback duo in ex-Cowboy Sterling Moore (who locked down Bryant for most of the game) and unheralded rookie free agent find Jude Adjei-Barimah. Safety Bradley McDougald played strong and heady after the concussion he sustained last week.

Performances like this will always keep the Bucs in games. So far, it hasn’t happened. In order for the Bucs to get to .500 next week against the Eagles in Philadelphia, this type of play needs to continue. And the defensive line, led by franchise star Gerald McCoy, has got to step up. But for today, they deserve praise. Let’s keep it up, D.

3. Although drops continue to plague him, Mike Evans is still on his way to becoming one of the NFL’s very best receivers.

I have to say that it felt immensely good to tweet this during the third quarter:

Yeah, he might sometimes have hands of stone. And yes, he will cause many Bucs fans to shake their heads and raise their hands to the heavens with exasperation at times as well. But make no mistake, Bucs fans: Mike Evans is on the threshold of becoming one of the league’s top wideouts.

Today was his third consecutive 100 yard receiving day, tallying 126 yards on eight catches. When Winston needed a conversion, he constantly looked towards Evans. And at the end of the game, when it was needed the most, the sophomore receiver delivered. Even though the absence of fellow receivers Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy, as well as tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, does hurt the Buccaneer offense, it has caused Evans to grow into an even bigger role. And, for better or worse (as is the case with Winston), it will benefit this team in the long run. It’s a great thing to watch their constantly growing rapport week in and week out.

4. Will the penalties ever stop?

Left tackle Donovan Smith had three false start penalties. A personal foul penalty on corner Mike Jenkins during the kickoff after the game winning touchdown gave the Cowboys great field position. Three other penalties committed throughout the game helped the Bucs shoot themselves in the foot.

If this team ever wants to be a serious playoff contender, this has to stop. There is no other way to put it. When committing seven penalties for 62 yards is considered an improvement, that is a sign of very poor discipline. Next week’s matchup against Philadelphia will be a fast paced one that the Bucs have not encountered yet this season. It will test them. If they want to win next week, penalties have to be at top of Smith’s to do list when fixing his team’s problems this week. End of discussion.

Quick Hits: Bucs DE George Johnson was lost for the game due to a calf injury…. Kicker Connor Barth missed his second field goal of the season today. But he did make a 52 yarder and the extra point that put the team up by four late in the game…. The defense limited the Cowboys to only 42 yards rushing all game, which is another strong effort by the run defense.