What a thriller on Thursday night! The Bucs pulled out a very important road win against their division rival, beating the Carolina Panthers 20-14.
Todd Bowles’ impressive defensive performance against the 49ers was not a fluke. Tampa Bay was able to dominate on defense once again. Holding Christian McCaffrey to only 2.3 yards on the ground is nothing short of outstanding. While he his usually a threat in the passing game as well, he had no more than 2 receptions for 16 yards against this aggressive Buccaneers defense.
Furthermore, Tampa Bay was able to keep Cam Newton in check. He completed less than 50% of his passes (25 on 51). He did end up passing for a total of 324 yards. However, he was held without a touchdown and was a non factor in the running game. The Bucs were able to sack Newton thrice, all three sacks were made by Shaq Barrett coming off the edge. In addition to that, the Bucs were able to knock the ball lose and make Newton fumble. Suh recovered the football, his first takeaway as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.
To underline a highly impressive performance, the Bucs were able to stop Carolina on 4th and short with less than two minutes to play inside their own 2 yard line. Vernon Hargreaves tackled McCaffrey impressively just short of the first down to win the game for the Bucs.
Winston bounces back, Godwin plays well
After a bad performance in week 1, quarterback Jameis Winston found a way to bounce back and play better. He ended up completing 16 passes on 25 attempts for a total of 208 yards. Most of his passes went to Chris Godwin, who hauled in 8 of his 9 targets for 121 yards and the only passing touchdown of the night. Winston could easily have had three touchdowns in this contest, but two well thrown passes were dropped in the end zone, one by Mike Evans, the other one by Breshad Perriman. Nonetheless, Winston did not committ a turnover and did not make any major mistakes.
Question marks of the day: OJ Howard, Penalties
Unfortuanetly, OJ Howard was a non factor again. He went catchless and is starting to get Bucs fans concerned. He needs to find a way to assert himself as a dangerous target for Jameis Winston, as he can add so much diversity to Tampa Bay’s offense.
The offensive line is still a concern, as too many pre-snap penalties committed by the line could easily have killed the Bucs. Beyond that, the two consecutive timeouts called by the coaching staff was unacceptable, as well. The Buccaneers need to find a way to be more disciplined as a whole.
Conclusion: Strong play by defense wins the game
All in all, the extraordinary defensive performance was the key to winning this game. The Bucs’ record now looks a lot better at 1-1. Next up is a matchup against Eli Manning and the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium on September 22nd.
Photo credit: buccaneers.com