The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sacked Nick Foles out of the game and finally stacked up the wins.
Five days after Head Coach Bruce Arians said, "it's all about trying to stack two in a row," his Buccaneers did exactly that with a second straight dominant win, drubbing the Jacksonville Jaguars, 28-11, at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday. It marks Tampa Bay's first winning streak in Arians' first season at the helm and also improves the team's road record in 2019 to 4-3.
"I'm really, really pleased with the effort," said Arians, "and finally getting two in a row. It's what we were looking for. We want to finish this [season] strong and add them up at the end and see if it's enough. I like where we're at. We're practicing and preparing very hard every week. We're coming into stadiums expect to win now."
Added quarterback Jameis Winston: "You gotta love it. I'm excited that we got this win and we have to keep stacking them."
The visitors pulled away early thanks to three takeaways in the game's first 19 minutes, all leading to touchdowns. A week after recording his first career two-sack game, rookie ILB Devin White grabbed his first interception, setting up a 15-yard touchdown run by Barber. OLB's Shaq Barrett and Carl Nassib followed with strip-sacks, the first leading to White's 12-yard fumble return for a score, the second setting up another Barber touchdown run.
"The defense came out and set the tone," said Winston. "They did an amazing job. The offensive line dominated in the first half."
Though the Jaguars had allowed more than 200 rushing yards in each of its last three games and were playing without three defensive starters (Myles Jack, Najee Good and Ronnie Harrison), the Buccaneers' offense primarily got its work done through the air. Winston completed 21 of 33 passes for 268 yards and was not intercepted. A week after both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in the same game, it was third-receiver Breshad Perriman who was Winston's top target in Jacksonville. Perriman caught five passes for a career-high 87 yards, and tight end O.J. Howard also made several difficult plays in traffic to finish with 61 yards on five grabs.
"You guys keep asking about who's [the number] three receiver," said Arians. "Well, there you go. It was great to see O.J. step up, and Breshad – if we hit him in stride one of these time's he's going to take it to the house."
In addition to providing scoring opportunities for the offense, Tampa Bay's defense also stifled Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles to help produce the Bucs' first first-half shutout since the 2017 opener against the Chicago Bears. Foles completed just seven first-half passes in 14 attempts and the Jaguars were held to 105 total yards and five first downs before the break. Foles was replaced at halftime by fan favorite Gardner Minshew, but "Minshew Mania" only amounted to 147 more yards, one touchdown and another interception.
"I'm really, really pleased," said Arians after the game. "I thought defensively the effort was outstanding. They got a little momentum when they put Gardner in there but we were able to hold that great goal-line stand and just put it to bed. That was one of the things you can take and built on for a long time. For Sean to come up with that interception and stop them a couple times and force them to throw the football, that's something you really build on."
In addition to his interception and fumble recovery, White also recorded seven tackles, a quarterback hit and two passes defensed, the second one a diving play in the end zone just before Murphy-Bunting's interception.
"He's a dynamic player and he's really come into his own," said Arians. "You can just see him blossoming every week, getting more confident and more confident. He's everything we thought he would be."
White also had two sacks a week ago in Atlanta during another very good performance from a young defense that appears to be turning the corner.
"It's just setting a standard," said White. "Every day we come in and we work hard but it just wasn't translating. But I told them, I preach every drive that we've got to set a standard. We've got to show the league who we are as a defense. I feel like we did that. We gave up some things but we didn't let down. We just defended every blade of grass."
The Jaguars did manage to gain some second-half momentum behind Minshew, who led two scoring drives in the fourth quarter. However, a remarkable goal line stand in which the Bucs denied seven plays inside the 10 before Sean Murphy-Bunting's interception kept the Jaguars from scoring on a drive that chewed up six of the last 12 minutes. The Bucs still had a 14-point lead with less than five minutes to play and a clutch 63-yard punt by Bradley Pinion flipped the field one last time, eventually leading to a Matt Gay 25-yard field goal to make it a three-score game with three minutes to play.
Though the Bucs' ground game only generated 72 yards, Barber provided some tough running to keep the offense balanced, and he scored on a two-point conversion in addition to his two touchdowns. Barber took over early when starter Ronald Jones was relatively ineffective.
"Peyton had a hot hand," said Arians. "He was making plays and he did a better job in the blitz pickup. RoJo missed a blitz pickup and that's it. You don't get to play anymore. Simple."
The Buccaneers got across midfield on the game's opening drive as Winston converted two early third downs with completions to Evans. However, a sack by Leon Jacobs and a third-down pass deflection by Yannick Ngakoue pushed the Bucs out of field goal range and led to a punt.
The Jaguars also reached enemy territory on their first drive thanks to Foles' 39-yard pass to Dede Westbrook down the left sideline on third down. However, two plays later Foles was hit by Pierre-Paul as he was throwing and White picked off the errant pass over the middle, returning it to Tampa Bay's 31.
The Buccaneers turned that takeaway into seven points with an eight-play, 69-yard drive. Barber converted an early third down with a six-yard draw play, then covered the final 15 yards on a hard-charging touchdown run right up the middle. In between, Arians had to use a challenge flag to get an incompletion correctly turned into a toe-tapping sideline catch by Breshad Perriman, and Howard got wide open deep for a 25-yard catch on the next play.
That was White's first NFL interception, and two plays later, he was in the end zone for the first time as a pro. Barrett, who came into the game tied for the NFL lead in both sacks and forced fumbles, did it again, chopping the ball out of Foles hands and back towards the Jaguars' end zone. With no Jaguars anywhere around the ball, White was able to calmly pick it off the turf and jog into the end zone. Additionally, when the Jaguars jumped offsides on the initial point attempt, the Bucs elected to take the half-the-distance penalty from the two-yard line and go for two. The try worked on another Barber draw play, making it a 15-0 game before the first quarter came to an end.
The Jaguars threatened to score early in the second quarter but Tampa Bay's defense ended that with its third takeaway, this time on Nassib's strip sack, with Suh recovering at the Bucs' 17. Moments later, Winston converted another third down with a perfect sideline deep ball to Perriman, who was well-covered by Tre Herndon. A deep shot to Evans missed but A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference, putting the ball at Jacksonville's 28. Godwin took a short pass and dashed all the way down to the one and two plays later Barber followed a lead block by Vita Vea into the end zone for his second touchdown.
The Buccaneers tacked on a field goal a minute before the intermission on a drive keyed by Perriman's 32-yard catch down to the Philadelphia 24-yard line. Another Godwin catch-and-run resulted in a first down at the 11 but the drive stalled at the seven and Matt Gay came on to hit a 25-yard field goal for a 25-0 halftime lead.
Minshew came in to run the first drive of the second half but didn't start out any hotter as the Bucs' defense quickly forced a punt. However, he got another chance moments later thanks to Jacksonville's first takeaway of the game. Winston got the ball over midfield on a fourth-and-inches sneak and then scrambled 16 yards to the Jacksonville 33 on the next play. However, blitzing S Andrew Wingard then got to Winston for a sack and the resulting fumble was recovered by Jacksonville's D.J. Hayden at the 39.
The Jaguars got across midfield from that spot but a near-sack by White on third down at the 30 led to a throwaway and Jacksonville settled for Josh Lambo's field goal, which became a 53-yarder after a false start. Jacksonville got good field position once again just as the third quarter was ending as the Bucs went for it on fourth-and-four from the Jaguars' 37. Winston took a nine-yard sack on the play, making it first-and-10 for Jacksonville at their own 46. That turned into eight points as Minshew completed all three of his passes, including a 30-yarder to D.J. Chark, on a 54-yard touchdown drive. He capped the drive with a shallow two-yard out to Westbrook for the touchdown and then scrambled left before finding Westbrook again for the two-point conversion to make it a 25-11 game with 13:37 left.
View photos of Tampa Bay's Week 13 matchup against Jacksonville.
The momentum continued to swing in Jacksonville's favor when, with just under 12 minutes to play, Westbrook returned a punt 42 yards to the Bucs' 37. That led to an incredible sequence inside the Buccaneers' 10-yard line. After a successful fourth-down conversion from the Bucs' 19 made it first-and-goal from the eight, a Minshew scramble got four yards and a short pass to Westbrook lost a yard due to Lavonte David's quick reaction. The Bucs denied passes to TE Nick O'Leary on third and fourth down, but David was flagged for pass interference on the second one, making it first-and-goal from the one. After Minshew and Fournette failed to get it on runs, Minshew tried to zip a quick pass in to Westbrook but the ball deflected off the receiver and was intercepted by Murphy-Bunting.
Murphy-Bunting's perhaps unwise decision to bring the ball out of the end zone forced the Bucs to start at their own three and they were able to burn just one minute and one Jacksonville timeout. Fortunately, Bradley Pinion blasted his 63-yard punt and a block-in-the-back penalty backed it up to Jacksonville's 30. The Jaguars would never again get the ball out of their end of the field, and a turnover on downs led to Gay's final field goal. Jacksonville's last play ended in a sack of Minshew by Sam Acho, who also forced and recovered a fumble.