A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' Week 7 matchup with the Bills.
1) TE O.J. Howard's monster day**
It was a different Bucs tight end in the end zone on Sunday, as rookie O.J. Howard registered the first and second touchdown catches of his NFL career. His first touchdown was also the Bucs first of the day: a seven-yard grab in the third quarter to make the score 17-13. His second would come on a 33-yard bomb, courtesy of quarterback Jameis Winston and a blown coverage that left Howard wide open en route to the end zone, putting the Bucs up 20-17 in the fourth quarter. Howard finished the day with six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
2) LB Lavonte David is a turnover machine
The linebacker forced his third fumble in two games, recovering two of those three himself. He led the team in tackles on the day as well, registering 12 with two assists. It's just his second game back from injury and first playing alongside linebacker Kwon Alexander since Week 1, who added six tackles and three assists of his own. It was Alexander's first game returning from a hamstring injury that has kept him out the last five weeks. This duo seems ready to go moving forward the rest of the season.
3) WR Mike Evans racks up receiving yards**
Wide receiver Mike Evans eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark for his career, making him just the seventh wide receiver in league history to have reached that number within their first 52 NFL games. Evans finished the game with seven catches for 81 yards, including a diving catch for an impressive touchdown that gave the Bucs a late lead in the fourth quarter. It was the kind of acrobatic grab that makes the 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver so unique, dragging his feet in-bounds with a precision rarely seen in a player his size.
4) QB Jameis Winston's shoulder just fine as Bucs offense produces
Quarterback Jameis Winston came out slinging after suffering an AC joint injury to his throwing shoulder in Week 6. The quarterback didn't seem to skip a beat, making his 38th straight start against the Bills and passing for 384 yards and three touchdowns. It was Winston's fourth time amassing over 300 yards in five games. He now sits at fourth all-time in number of games with over 300 passing yards in Bucs history (seven) and second for number of games with at least three passing touchdowns (also seven). The Bucs offense registered their fourth consecutive game with over 400 yards, tying the franchise record. The Bucs offense in general has recorded over 300 yards in each of the past five games, setting a new team record as well.
5) Defense struggles to contain the run for second straight game
It was another veteran running back in LeSean McCoy that had a vintage day against the Bucs in Week 7. The 29-year-old running back was averaging just 3.2 yards per carry prior to Sunday. McCoy ended up rushing for 91 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns, adding another 31 receiving yards on five catches. McCoy did cough up the ball in the fourth quarter – the Bills first lost fumble of the season – after linebacker Lavonte David forced the ball out and recovered. Unfortunately, McCoy wasn't the only one to have success on the ground. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor escaped for 53 rushing yards and multiple first downs to keep drives alive. The running game allowed more flexibility for a Bills passing attack that had previously ranked 30th in the league going into Week 7. Taylor completed 20 of 33 passing attempts for 268 yards and a touchdown, while Deonte Thompson recorded his first 100+ yard game with the Bills, catching four passes for 107 yards.