The Buccaneers have won a football game I REPEAT, THE BUCCANEERS HAVE WON A FOOTBALL GAME. Yes, what you just read is true, the Buccaneers have snapped a 4 game losing streak with a 27-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers. This game was full of rare moments for the Buccaneers this season. The Buccaneers committed ZERO turnovers and forced TWO their own, who knew on defense you could catch the ball? They were 100% on their extra points and field goals, Jason Pierre-Paul became the first Buccaneer to reach 10 sacks on the season since Simeon Rice in 2005. So the question is, how in the world did this all happen?
How They Started
The Niners won the toss and deferred, the Bucs offense and Quarterback Jameis Winston went to work. This was Winston’s first step in the redemption tour, these next 5 games will be important for him to prove he belongs in the NFL. The Bucs got the ball and did not do much with it, have a incomplete pass, then a 9 yard pass, the Bucs called a run on 3rd and 1 that was completely predictable and guess what? It went nowhere. Bucs were forced to punt and give the ball to the most famous 3rd string QB in the league, Nick Mullens. The Bucs were able to pressure Mullens early and often. After the first play was a Matt Brieda 33 yard run, it looked as if the defense was going to be in for a long day, but they tightened up and forced the Niners to punt. The next Buccaneers drive was beautiful. They were able to run the ball effectively and that set up a fantastic throw and catch by Winston to Mike Evans for a gain of 42 yards. The Bucs were in business and would close the deal when Winston rolled out and found TE Cameron Brate in the back of the endzone for the Buccaneers first touchdown at home since week 7 against the Browns. Cairo Santos’ kick was good and the Buccaneer lead was 7-0. The Bucs defense would then force the Niners to go three and out and the Bucs were about to get the ball right back. The Bucs received the ball with poor field position after a solid punt and they were not able to do much with it, they also went three and out and had -3 yards on the drive. The teams traded punts and then the Niners were able to get a rhythm going. They had a 9 play, 79 yard drive that ended with a touchdown. Robbie Gould’s extra point was no good so the Buccaneers kept the lead with a score of 7-6. The Bucs would get the ball and drive down the field, but the offense would stall and have to settle for a Cairo Santos 41 yard field goal which was RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE! I know right? A kicker that can hit a field goal right down the middle? Unreal, I know. Back to the game, the defense would again step up and force the Niners to punt on a drive that was highlighted by Jason Pierre-Paul getting a sack that put him at 10 on the year. The Simeon Rice curse has been lifted! The Bucs got the ball back with less than two minutes left in the first half and Jameis Winston led them on a drive that would end with a Santos 39 yard field goal that was right through. The score at halftime was 13-6 in favor of the good guys.
At The Half
The Buccaneers led at halftime for the first time since again, that week 7 game vs the Browns. How about that defensive effort in the first half? Carl Nassib looked like a man possessed in the first half, Jason Pierre-Paul also looked good of course. Winston and the offense looked pretty sharp, Winston was making the smart decisions and did not force the ball anywhere. Overall a solid first half, but the game was not over, the lead was only 7 points. More work was to be done. The 49ers would receive the ball to start the second half.
How They Finished
The Niners got the ball and drove down the field. The 49ers had the ball on the 9 yard line, they had a run that was called a touchdown, but it was ruled that the runner was down before he reached the endzone. Boy was that big. The 49ers had the ball now on the 1 yard line and 2nd and goal was a run for no gain, 3rd and goal was a unsuccessful QB sneak by Mullens and right before the 4th and goal play, the Niners were penalized and that pushed them back 5 yards. The field goal unit came in and made a 23 yard kick. So how about that goal line defense? A touchdown was ruled not a touchdown, then the defense held the Niners on the 1 yard line, fantastic work by the defensive line. The Bucs led 13-9. Winston would lead the Bucs on another great drive that ended with a 2 yard touchdown run by Peyton Barber. That would extend the Bucs lead and after a made extra point, it was 20-9. On the 49ers next drive they were forced to punt. The Bucs next drive was another fantastic one. Jameis Winston escaped defenders Andrew found a wide open target in Adam Humphries and Humphries ran into the endzone for the touchdown! The Bucs opened this thing up and the score was now 27-9 and it would stay like that for the rest of the game. The teams would trade punts again and then the Niners got the ball. The Bucs started to play “prevent defense” which is where they play a soft zone and let the offense complete a few passes for decent gains, but the objective is to eliminate the big play. The 49ers had the ball on the Tampa Bay 26 yard line when Nick Mullens launched a pass into the endzone and it was…. PICKED OFF. Unbelievable. The Bucs got their 2nd interception of the season and their first since week 3. The Bucs were then able to run a good portion of the clock down before giving the ball back to San Francisco. The Niners got the ball and the Bucs continued to play prevent defense. That ended when Mullens’ pass was tipped and you won’t believe this but, WAS PICKED OFF AGAIN! The Bucs 2nd turnover of the game and 3rd interception on the year. That would seal the deal as the Bucs would get the ball and line up in the best formation you can think of. The Victory formation. Does that feel good or what?
This was a full team effort. Both sides of the ball played well and came up big when needed. What a game by Jameis Winston. If he continues to play like this, he will definitely be here next year and possibly beyond that. Vita Vea also had a very productive day, he had 4 tackles and 1 sack. He’s developing, folks. Even the kicker made all of his kicks! Like I said, FULL team effort. The pressure on Mullens was big all game, but the run defense could use some work. All in all though, worry about the draft later, celebrate the win for now Bucs fans. The Bucs have a bigger test next Sunday vs the Carolina Panthers. Can the Buccaneers get some late season momentum going? Time will tell.