After an upset last week, the Buccaneers (6-5) came up with another on Sunday afternoon. They got out to a fast start and held on late, beating the Seahawks (7-3-1) by a score of 14-5. Here, we have immediate observations and reactions from another huge win for Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers are officially relevant heading into the month of December. Tampa Bay picked up its third straight win on Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium, upsetting Seattle 14-5 to improve to 6-5 on the season. The offense started fast and the defense came up huge to keep the Bucs in the playoff conversation heading into the final month of 2016.
Observations and Reactions- General
-The Bucs got off to an unbelievably good start on Sunday afternoon. They scored a touchdown on the game’s opening drive, stopped the Seahawks and then scored again to take a 14-0 lead. That’s impressive against any team, but it’s pretty unheard of against a team like Seattle.
-Sunday was massive for the franchise. This win proved that the Bucs’ upset of the Chiefs wasn’t really an oddity. Stringing together back-to-back wins against playoff-caliber teams is something that Tampa Bay hasn’t been able to do in quite a while. It really proves that the Bucs are headed in the right direction.
-The Bucs had some untimely penalties on Sunday, committing seven overall for 68 yards.
Observations and Reactions- Offense
–Jameis Winston had a stellar first half against a very good Seattle secondary. A couple of key defensive backs were missing, but Winston shredded through what was left of the “Legion of Boom.” In the first half, he completed 15 of his 19 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns. He had a quarterback rating of 136.2.
-Winston finished the day 21-of-28 for 220 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He has been much better lately, making fewer mistakes than he did early on in the year.
–Doug Martin got going early in the game, which helped Tampa Bay get off to a quick start. He looked like he was at full strength, making tacklers miss early and often. In the first half, he rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries. He finished with 87 yards on 23 carries.
–Mike Evans continues to prove week in and week out that he deserves to be regarded as an elite NFL wide receiver. In the second quarter, he went over 1,000 yards on the season. He caught the Bucs’ first two touchdowns, beating Richard Sherman for a 23-yarder on the second one. Overall, no. 13 caught eight passes for 104 yards and two scores.
-With all of that being said, Tampa Bay couldn’t get much of anything going in the second half. Had they been able to capitalize on a couple of drives, the Bucs could’ve wrapped things up much earlier.
-The Bucs almost wrapped it up with under five minutes to go when Winston found Cameron Brate for a touchdown. However, Demar Dotson was called for a questionable hands-to-the-face penalty to take the points off the board. On the next play, Winston was intercepted on a throw that he forced into coverage.
-The offensive line was solid all day, creating some pretty good running room for Martin. Winston wasn’t sacked once, which allowed him to have the productive day that he had.
Observations and Reactions- Defense
-The defense looked outstanding on Sunday. It held the Seahawks to three points, which came after the offense gave up a safety.
-The pass rush was highly effective. Tampa Bay was all over Russell Wilson, racking up six sacks. Rookie Noah Spence and veteran Gerald McCoy each came up with one and a half, while Kwon Alexander Robert Ayers and Ryan Russell picked up one each.
-Spence has really come on strong in recent weeks. He finished the game with five tackles (two solo).
–Alterraun Verner, whose father passed away on Friday, came up big in the second quarter. He jumped a Wilson pass and picked it off, effectively stopping the Seattle drive before it really got going. Early in the third quarter, he came up with a diving pass deflection. He deserves all the credit in the world for stepping up the way he did just days after losing his father. Before the game, he said that he was going to play the game in his dad’s honor, and there’s no doubt that he was able to make him proud with his performance on Sunday.
–Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s top receiver, didn’t make his first catch until there were under two minutes left in the first half. His team had just 70 total yards after 30 minutes of play. That’s a fantastic job by the Bucs’ defense.
–Mike Smith‘s unit was very bad earlier in the season, but it has turned things around in a big way. The defense has won the last two games for the Bucs, which is crazy considering the way it played early in the season.
-The Tampa Bay defense was excellent on third downs. Seattle started 0-for-11, and didn’t pick up its first conversion until the two-minute warning in the fourth.
–Lavonte David made an impressive play in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble to cut Seattle’s drive short. It looked like the Seahawks were gaining momentum, but David took it away- literally.
–Bradley McDougald came up with the dagger, intercepting Wilson with 1:19 left. He also had five solo tackles, including a tackle for loss.
Observations and Reactions- Special Teams
–Bryan Anger and the punt coverage team deserve a lot of credit for this win. Anger punted four times, pinning the Seahawks inside the 20 on all four. Three were downed inside the 10, with Russell Shepard, Keith Tandy and Josh Robinson all contributing in coverage.
–Adam Humphries looked good on punt returns today, averaging 16 yards per return.
–Roberto Aguayo connected easily on both of his extra point attempts, but missed a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter. It didn’t come back to bite the Bucs, but it sure could have in a tight game against a very good team like the Seahawks.
Tampa Bay proved a lot on Sunday afternoon. Seattle has been dominant in recent years, beating teams with a monstrous defense and solid offense. The Bucs did enough to pull off a big win, which shows that they are prepared to make a run late in the season for a playoff spot. Head coach Dirk Koetter deserves a lot of credit, but so does defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Now that his defense is healthy, it is playing at a high level and winning games for the Bucs. There wasn’t a whole lot to complain about in the 14-5 win, as it got the team above .500 as the calendar turns to December.
I’m thoroughly impressed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I haven’t been able to say that consistently in a very long time, but I’ve been able to say it for three straight weeks. There’s a lot of fight in this team, and it has showed. They’ve picked up three straight wins to show the rest of the league that they are still looking for a spot in the playoffs. Beating teams like the Chiefs and Seahawks is a testament to how far the Bucs have come in just a year. They’ve matched their win total from 2016 with five games left on the schedule. There are some tough ones left to play, but with the way things have gone lately, it looks like Tampa Bay can hang with, and beat, just about anyone.
The Bucs head west next Sunday to take on the San Diego Chargers (5-6). Kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m.