Sometimes a win is not always the prettiest. Sometimes it is very frustrating but also exhilarating. That is how I would describe this Bucs performance. No, it was not something to write home about. However, a win is a win no matter how it is sliced. This one will go down in the history books as a W. It is also the first time the Bucs have defeated Giants QB Eli Manning in his career. There were many positives and negatives from this game. Final Score from the game was the Buccaneers going out with a 25-23 win. Let’s see who stood out to me.
Best of the Best
TE Cameron Brate: When the Buccaneers selected former Alabama Tight End O.J. Howard many fans thought that would mean that emerging star Cameron Brate would be the odd man out and some fans were not very happy about it. However, the Bucs love Brate and they were not about to let him go missing from the offense. This week certainly proved it. Brate showed up in the big moments on Sunday. It started with a 35-yard catch and run and at the end of that run Brate absolutely bullied safety Landon Collins, pushing him right into the ground. Then Brate came up even bigger late in the game. He hauled in a Jameis Winston touchdown with about 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Then, on the game-winning drive, caught a long pass that set up Nick Folk’s game-winner. Overall, Brate had a solid day and is very consistent. On Sunday, the Bucs made America Brate again.
QB Jameis Winston: QB Jameis Winston was good, not great on Sunday. The reason he was not great was that he seemed to be a bit off when targeting Desean Jackson. The chemistry is not quite there yet but they will both be fine. Winston was able to take advantage of a run game finally existing. That helps the whole offense out so much. Winston threw 3 Touchdown passes and was clutch on that final game-winning drive. Winston also did not have any turnovers and that usually leads to success. Let’s hope that Winston can keep this up for the rest of the season.
DT Gerald McCoy: McCoy has been very good this season. He has shown up in nearly every game the Bucs have played. On Sunday he was facing a Giants o line that is one of the worst in the league and while the defensive line was not able to get pressure (Which is inexcusable) McCoy looked dominant against the run. He was in the Giants backfield a lot when they attempted to run the ball. McCoy has played awesome this year and the fans should really start appreciating him.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers: I spoke earlier about how a run game that is effective helps out the whole offense and especially the QB. Jameis Winston had a lot of success in his rookie year because he was helped by having a thousand yard rusher in Doug Martin. At times last year, Winston struggled because he tried to force things one of the reasons he did that (other than he is a gunslinger and will take chances) was because the Bucs just could not run the ball. It showed last week what happens when the run is completely abandoned, Winston forced things and the Bucs lost. This game was a different story, Rodgers ran hard against a stout New York front 4 and that helped the offense out so much. Rodgers was crisp on his cutbacks and his decision-making and vision was very good in this game. Doug Martin is now back from suspension and barring anything happening (He can still get cut) the Buccaneers hope that the run game improves every week.
Worst of the Worst
Pass Rush: Wait, what pass rush am I talking about? The Bucs pass rush? Do the Bucs even HAVE a pass rush? The Bucs have now made it two straight weeks with no sacks on the day and this one was as bad as it could get. As I mentioned earlier, the Giants offensive line is one of the worst in football and the Bucs gave Eli Manning ALL DAY to throw. The Bucs barely even hit Manning. Very disappointing performance and something that needs to be fixed if the Buccaneers want to take the next step this year. I mean, really? The Giants o line? REALLY? On to the next one.
K Nick Folk: Yeah yeah, I know he made the game winner but that still does not mean that he gets a pass on this list. The only reason the Bucs were even in that position was that Folk missed 2 field goals and one extra point. That is 7 points off the board. THAT IS BASICALLY A TOUCHDOWN. He even almost hooked the game winner. Point blank, Folk needs to be better and he should be kissing all of his lucky coins tonight because if he misses that kick, he is likely looking for a new job tomorrow. Thankfully he made it and Bucs win!
C Ali Marpet: Look, I love Ali Marpet, as many other Bucs fans do. However, Marpet switched from guard to center this off season and this game definitely showed than Marpet’s game at center still needs some work. He had several bad snaps including one that basically killed a drive. Marpet had a bad snap to Winston and Winston had no choice but to throw the ball away. That resulted in a 49 yard field goal from Nick Folk which he missed. Now, it is no guarantee the Bucs would have gotten the first down but Marpet’s botched snap certainly did not help. I have faith in Marpet though, he will get better game by game.
This game was about as sloppy as the weather. It is very encouraging to see the Bucs continue to fight until the end. The old Bucs would have lost that game when the Giants went up by one late in the game. It is now time for a big-time showdown in Tampa on Thursday night. The Bucs HAVE to get a pass rush against the Patriots or else it will be a long night for Mike Smith. Let’s hope the Bucs can get healthy and pull off the upset on Thursday. Enjoy your victory Monday Bucs fans. A little fun fact, the Bucs have now won six straight home games. Hopefully, they can make it 7 on Thursday night. GO BUCS!