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Ryan Fitzpatrick Goes to 2-0

Posted Nov 20, 2017

Stat Shots: With the help of rookie TE O.J. Howard, Ryan Fitzpatrick became just the third quarterback to win his first two starts as a Buccaneer

In Week 10 against the New York Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick became the 11th quarterback in team history to win his first start as a Buccaneer. In Week 11, he moved into an even more exclusive Tampa Bay club.

With Fitzpatrick replacing an injured Jameis Winston for a second consecutive week, the Buccaneers notched their first road win of the season, defeating Miami, 30-20 at Hard Rock Stadium. Fitzpatrick threw for 275 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions and directed a nine-play, 58-yard march in the game's closing minutes to set up Patrick Murray's game-winning field goal. It was the 13th game-winning drive of Fitzpatrick's career.

As a result, Fitzpatrick is now 2-0 as a starter for the Buccaneers. He is just the third quarterback in franchise history to win each of his first two starts for Tampa Bay. Here is how all 11 QBs who won their Buc debuts fared in their second starts.

Quarterback Date Opponent Outcome
Steve Young 12/1/85 at Green Bay L, 21-0
John Reaves* 10/11/87 San Diego L, 17-13
Jim Zorn* n/a n/a No 2nd Start
Shaun King 12/12/99 Detroit W, 23-16
Brad Johnson 9/30/01 at Minnesota L, 20-16
Rob Johnson 12/29/02 at Chicago W, 15-0
Chris Simms 1/2/05 at Arizona L, 12-7
Tim Rattay 12/31/06 Seattle L, 23-7
Luke McCown 12/9/07 at Houston L, 28-14
Josh Freeman 11/15/09 at Miami L, 25-23
Ryan Fitzpatrick 11/19/17 at Miami W, 30-20

(* Reaves and Zorn started replacement games during the 1987 players' strike. Reaves started the first two and Zorn the third, and neither played for the Buccaneers again after that.)

Fitzpatrick and Shaun King are the only two Buccaneer quarterbacks to win their first two starts for the team in consecutive team games. Rob Johnson started twice for an injured or ill Brad Johnson during the 2002 Super Bowl season, but one was in October and one was in Week 17.

Fitzpatrick moved into the starting lineup when it was determined that Winston needed to rest his injured right (throwing) shoulder for at least two weeks, after which the young quarterback would be evaluated again. As such, the starter for the Buccaneers' game in Atlanta next Sunday has yet to be determined. If Fitzpatrick gets a third consecutive start, he'll have a chance to become the first quarterback with a 3-0 start to his Buccaneer tenure. King lost his third start in Oakland in 1999, 45-0, and Johnson never got a third start with Tampa Bay.

Against Miami, Fitzpatrick threw touchdown passes to DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. Jackson's four-yard score in the second quarter left him just one shy of 50 touchdowns in his 10-year NFL career. If Jackson catches another touchdown, he will become just the 27th player in NFL history to hit the 50-TD mark while averaging at least 17 yards per reception.

Meanwhile, Howard pushed his season total to four touchdown catches, tying Mike Evans and Cameron Brate for the team lead. He is now just one behind the franchise's rookie record for touchdown catches by a tight end. Overall, his four touchdown grabs are tied for the fifth-most among rookies in team annals.

Player Pos. Season TDs
Mike Evans WR 2014 12
Mike Williams WR 2010 11
Michael Clayton WR 2004 7
Kevin House WR 1980 5
Tim Wright TE 2013 5
O.J. Howard TE 2017 4
Reidel Anthony WR 1997 4
Horace Copeland WR 1993 4


Howard's touchdown receptions total is also just one behind the lead among all NFL rookies in 2017, both in terms of the tight end position and overall.

Player Pos. Team TDs
Evan Engram TE N.Y. Giants 5
JuJu Smith-Schuster WR Pittsburgh 5
O.J. Howard TE Tampa Bay 4
Austin Ekeler RB L.A. Chargers 3
Alvin Kamara RB New Orleans 3
Cooper Kupp WR L.A. Rams 3
Christian McCaffrey RB Carolina 3
David Njoku TE Cleveland 3


Jackson's potential 50th career touchdown catch would also be his fourth this season. If he gets that fourth score and joins Howard, Brate and Evans with that total, it would mark the first time Tampa Bay has ever had four different players each have at least four touchdown catches in the same season.

**

Odds and Ends:

- Justin Evans, Kwon Alexander and Robert McClain all recorded their respective second interceptions of the season in the win over Miami. They join Brent Grimes for the team lead in that category this season. The Buccaneers are one of just five teams in the NFL that have four different players with multiple picks already. The other four are Baltimore (five players), Jacksonville (four), the L.A. Rams (four) and Philadelphia (four).

- For the second week in a row, the Buccaneers won the field position battle in their win over Miami. Tampa Bay's average drive start on Sunday was its own 36-yard line, while the Dolphins was their own 25. After forcing the Jets to start every drive at its own 30-yard line or worse in Week 10, the Buccaneers made the Dolphins start 10 of 12 drives at that point or worse. Over the last two weeks, Tampa Bay has started eight drives across its own 40-yard line, while its opponents have done so just once.

- The Buccaneers notched the game's first points on Sunday with a 30-yard Patrick Murray field goal on their second drive. So far this season, Tampa Bay is 4-1 this season when it scores the first points of a game, 0-5 when it does not. The Buccaneers are also 3-0 when taking a lead into halftime and 3-0 when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.