Jameis Winston, Bucs win ugly over Cowboys
TAMPA, Fla. — It wasn’t pretty, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take the final result.
The Bucs overcame an anemic rushing attack and two interceptions by Jameis Winston deep in Dallas Cowboys territory to earn a 10-6 victory Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Winston led Tampa Bay on a nine-play, 56-yard drive, which he capped with a 1-yard touchdown run with 54 seconds left to lift the Bucs to a grind-it-out win.
Before that, Tampa Bay’s offense didn’t accomplish much. The Bucs were held to a 52-yard field goal by Connor Barth in the second quarter, and Doug Martin gained just 63 yards on 18 carries. Even on the winning drive, Tampa Bay’s situation looked bleak when Winston fumbled at the goal line — but safety Jeff Heath was called for defensive holding, giving the Bucs new life.
There are no style points in the NFL, and the Bucs (4-5) won’t apologize for winning the way they did. Tampa Bay won despite adversity, something this young team needed to do to demonstrate growth under coach Lovie Smith.
What it means: The Bucs rallied to earn a needed victory at home against a weak Cowboys squad that has lost seven in a row and is without Tony Romo. Tampa Bay’s defense, often maligned, played well with the offense struggling for most of the afternoon.
What were they thinking? A choice to throw to tight end Brandon Myers on third down late in the second quarter proved costly. The pass from Winston was catchable, but it slid through Myers’ hands and Heath intercepted it at Dallas’ 5-yard line. If not for that turnover, the Bucs would have been in position to attempt a short field goal. Before then, Winston had thrown 135 consecutive passes without an interception, dating back to Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers.
One reason to get excited: Linebacker Lavonte David had a disappointing first half of the season, but he totaled 12 tackles and one sack Sunday. Linebacker Kwon Alexander has been a pleasant surprise as a rookie, but more from David would lift the Bucs’ defense late in the season.
One reason to panic: The offense’s struggle to pass throughout the afternoon was concerning. With Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins out, the Bucs have scant receiving options except for Mike Evans. The lack of depth will continue to hurt Tampa Bay until Jackson and Seferian-Jenkins come back.
Fantasy watch: To little surprise, Evans represented the bulk of the Bucs’ receiving production, finishing with 126 yards on eight catches. It marked the first time he posted consecutive 100-yard receiving games this season.
Ouch: Defensive end George Johnson left in the second quarter with a calf injury.