Here are the winners and losers for the Buccaneers against the 49ers.
The Buccaneers traveled across country this week and took on the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco is one of the bottom feeders in the NFL and the Bucs really needed to walk away with a win to not only get to .500 but to have their first winning streak in a very long time. Well the Bucs were successful and won the game 34-17 holding the 49ers to three points after the first quarter.
Winner: Running Game
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The Bucs followed up last games performance and ran the ball down the 49ers’ throat. This is something I’ve wanted the Bucs to do for a while, utilize the opponent’s weakness. The 49ers came into the game with the 32nd ranked rush defense and the Bucs made sure they stayed in the bottom of the league.
Jacquizz Rodgers continued his success without Doug Martin by breaking his career record in the first half with 103 first half yards. He finished the day with 154 yards on 26 carries. I chose to make the running game the winner because the offensive line performed to the highest level of the season. Newly acquired Antoine Smith and rookie Peyton Barber performed really well when Rodgers needed a breather. Barber even broke one for a 44 yard touchdown to seal the victory. The team finished the game with 40 carries for 250 yards.
Loser: Charles Sims
They can’t all be winners. With Charles Sims sidelined for the remainder of the season his team stock has gone down significantly. Jacquizz Rodgers has performed well above expectations. Along with the fact that Doug Martin is under contract for four more seasons, one guaranteed, and the strength of running backs that are available in this year’s draft it may appear that Sims’ time has run out on this offense. As a supporter of Charles Sims as a backup to Doug Martin he proved that he can’t be a lead back and stay healthy. Without even playing Charles Sims is a loser this week.
Winner: Wide Receiver Mike Evans
Mike Evans is an elite wide receiver in the NFL. He’s a clear number one and steps up when the team needs him to be the offensive leader. Vincent Jackson going down seemed like it should’ve put more focus on Evans by the defense. Evans, even with the added focus, had another monster game hauling in eight of the 13 passes sent his way for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Evans on his second touchdown got open by scrambling around, pointing up and snagging Winston’s pass, putting them firmly in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the game.
Loser: Kick Returner Ryan Smith
Listen he’s a rookie but there is no reason what so ever for him to leave the end zone on both of those kick returns. Ryan Smith had 20 return yards on two returns for a putrid average of 10 yards per return. Not only were they short returns but he came out of the end zone where he could’ve taken the touchback and started the drive on the 25. I feel like he’s trying to make plays but you really need to be more disciplined and realize that a group of 11 men are sprinting at you. The Bucs have never had a good return game and I feel that this needs to be addressed in the offseason.
Winner: Wide Receiver Russell Shepard
Someone was going to need to step up in the absence of Vincent Jackson and Russell Shepard stepped up. In the Bucs’ two-minute drive to end the half he was Winston’s favorite target. He had three catches for 37 yards and a touchdown to close out the half. I thought Cecil Shorts would play a role in this offense today but Russell Shepard was the one out there making the plays. Russell Shepard is a captain on this team for a reason and hopefully he will be a playmaker for the remainder of the season.
Loser: Kicker Roberto Aguayo
With the win and the two made kicks don’t think you get off that easy, Berto. Aguayo missed another kick and is now six for eleven on the season. He made his first two today but they were relatively close. He missed a 50 yarder midway through the fourth quarter so it didn’t really affect the final outcome but at some point he is going to have to make the harder, longer kicks. He did make the game winner two weeks ago and many people have come around but I’m still really on the fence with him. I mean with the old man in Indy making 40 in a row is really upsetting. He’s got to start making kicks.
The Bucs beat a team that is one of the worst five in the league. They did have to travel across the country but the niners are not a good team. This is a good win because the Bucs didn’t really have any major issues all around. One thing I would like to see them work on is starting off faster and using no huddle more. The Bucs as a team are not very good in the first quarter team and they started the second quarter down 14-0. The Bucs face a tougher opponent next week in the Oakland Raiders who are coming off a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. If the Bucs can keep up their winning ways things can start looking up this season.