The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) entered week 15 looking for their fourth consecutive victory. Having won their previous three contests, the Bucs traveled to the Motor City to take on the Detroit Lions (3-9-1). The Lions limped into week 15 on their third string quarterback. Starting runningback Kerryon Johnson was also out with a knee injury. Tampa Bay entered the game without pro bowl wide receiver Mike Evans. Evans was sidelined for the season after a hamstring injury last week.
A familiar start
In a scene that had already unfolded 9 times in the 5 year career of Jameis Winston, the first drive of the game ended prematurely on an interception. After back to back penalties on backup left tackle Josh Wells, Winston was intercepted by Jahlani Tavai. Fortunately, Detroit did not turn that takeaway into points and the Bucs got the ball right back.
Tampa Bay marched 79 yards on 8 plays on the ensuing drive on their way to a touchdown. Jameis Winston connected with Breshad Perriman for a 34 yard score, their first of three touchdown connections on the day.
Records start to fall
Following the Perriman touchdown, the Lions went 3 and out again. Justin Watson fell down attempting to field the punt and the ball bounced off of him and out of bounds at the 1 yard line. From there, the Bucs put together a 99 yard drive culminating in the first career touchdown reception for Scotty Miller. The 99 yard drive took 5 plays and lasted 1:52.
LET'S GET IT, SCOTTY!
That's career TD No. 1️⃣ for the rookie. pic.twitter.com/GTsNmGdzZP
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) December 15, 2019
The Bucs led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. Through those first 15 minutes, Winston threw for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the other side of the field, Detroit managed to only gain 1 yard of offense in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Winston connected with Perriman for another touchdown. This time, from 25 yards. The touchdown marked Winston’s 29th of the season, breaking his own franchise record of 28 set in 2016. The score also gave Tampa Bay 399 points on the season, also setting a franchise record.
Detroit added a field goal to get on the board before halftime but the Buccaneers were in total control going into the locker room, up 21-3. The Tampa Bay defense completely shut down anything the Lions threw at them in the first half. The Bucs led in total yardage 336-56 at halftime. Shaq Barrett also recorded a sack in the first half to tie Warren Sapp’s franchise record of 16.5 in a single season.
Lions make things interesting, Godwin goes down
On Detroit’s first drive of the second half, quarterback David Blough threw an interception to Andrew Adams. The takeaway set Tampa Bay up for a Matt Gay field goal to extend the lead to 24-3.
For the rest of the third quarter and into the fourth, Detroit swung momentum into their favor. Blough received great protection from his offensive line and was able to connect on some chunk plays, taking advantage of mistakes in coverage by a young Buccaneers secondary. 2 short touchdown runs by Wes Hills brought the Lions to within 7.
In the third quarter, having already lost Scotty Miller for the game, and already without top receiver Mike Evans for the rest of the season, Chris Godwin was taken off the field on the cart. Godwin likely went down with a hamstring injury similar to the fate Evans suffered a week ago. Tampa Bay was forced to finish the game without it’s top 2 receivers.
Murphy Bunting ends Lions’ comeback attempt
With the Lions driving to tie the game and positioned at the Tampa Bay 35 yard line, Sean Murphy-Bunting came away with the game sealing takeaway. Reading the eyes of Blough the whole way, Murphy-Bunting intercepted the Lions’ quarterback and raced 70 yards for a touchdown. As a result, he gave Tampa Bay their 5th defensive touchdown of the season.
With the team now comfortably ahead, the Winston to Perriman show had one more act in them. After a turnover on downs set the Bucs up at the Lions 46, Winston connected with Perriman for a 25 yard touchdown. This was their third touchdown connection of the day, a career high for Perriman.
The pass also put Winston at 458 yards for the day, a new career high. His previous career high? 456, set last week against Indianapolis.
Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 450 yards or more in consecutive games.
With 30 touchdowns on the season, Winston trails only Lamar Jackson for the most in the NFL. He now leads the NFL in passing yards with 4,573. His growth and development over the second half of this season under coach Bruce Arians has been outstanding. Winston continues to play at a high level and should be poised for a successful finish to 2019, giving way to a lot to build upon for his second season under Arians in 2020.
After all, history shows that’s when an Arians QB really shines.
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