Let’s get one thing out of the way before we get into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Christmas Eve blowout of the Jaguars. Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence should never have played last Sunday.
A concussion, an ankle injury, and now, because he played Sunday, a shoulder injury, and the Jags are in an even worse place because of it. A lot of immature and short sighted decision making by head coach Doug Pederson and the Jags.
But now to the fun stuff.
The Bucs absolutely dominated those sorry Jags on the night before Christmas, 30-12, and everyone looked about as good as they’ve looked all year.
I mean, the Buccaneers were up 20-0 at halftime and extended their lead to 27-0 within the first five minutes of the second half.
Not a competitive game at all, and the Bucs looked as good as they have all year, creating four turnovers on defense and converting consistently on third downs offensively, going 10 for 19 on the game.
Tampa Bay quarterback Baker Mayfield continued his stellar play, furthering his argument for a new contract with these Bucs and maybe even a shot at Comeback Player of the Year.
Winfield, Jr. might’ve had his best game of the season (bear with me), sacking the QB, hauling in a diving interception, and recovering a fumble forced by backup corner Zyon McCollum.
Bucs linebacker Devin White, fresh off his own dramatic story this past week, kicked things off for the defense with a diving, acrobatic interception of his own that really seemed to galvanize the squad (because hey, if he’s playing hard, no one has an excuse).
The Bucs now only have to win one of their next two divisional games against the Saints (who visit for the regular season home finale on New Year’s Eve) and Panthers to secure the NFC South.
I know Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles has done a lot to hurt this team with his game management methods and conservative play calling, and I still don’t think he’s the right coach for whatever this next era of Buccaneers football looks like, but the results truly speak for themselves. He’ll be the first coach in team history to lead the franchise to consecutive division titles.
And while they’ve been pretty sorry divisions, it’s not like the Falcons, Saints, and Panthers have ever consistently been powerhouses, save for the few 2010 years where the Saints could manage to give all-time great QB Drew Brees a defense that wasn’t historically bad.
So, hey, credit where credit is due. The Bucs are a game away from heading to the playoffs. And how often can we say that?
Fire the cannons, and happy holidays. Should be a fun next couple weeks in Bucs football.