Photos from Buccaneers vs. Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.
Jameis Winston spent a good portion of Sunday afternoon spreading touchdowns around like a red-and-pewter Santa Claus, but he could thank Doug Martin for helping to pull the sleigh. And now all of the Tampa Bay area can look forward to a more joyful holiday season.
Martin's 235 rushing yards on 27 carries combined nicely with Winston's five touchdown passes to five different players to lead the Buccaneers to a 45-17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. The victory evened Tampa Bay's record at 5-5, gave them consecutive wins for the first time in the last two seasons and pulled the team to within a game of the last playoff spot in the NFC.
"We know we've got to keep working," said Winston, discussing the possibility of the Buccaneers' first real playoff race in years. "Keep coming in and putting in work day-in and day-out. These guys have worked their tails off and we'll keep doing the same thing so we can bring more wins to Tampa Bay."
Martin had 177 rushing yards and Winston had four scoring passes before intermission in one of the most prolific first halves in franchise history, with the offense picking up 355 yards as a whole. By the end of the game, the Bucs had 521 total yards, the second-highest single-game total in franchise history behind a 573-yard day against Minnesota on Nov. 16, 1980. Tampa Bay took a 28-14 lead into halftime and then effectively put the game away with a 15-play, 10-minute drive to open the second half.
"What sums up this game was that opening drive of the third quarter, how we overcame adversity and we showed the world, basically, that we are a good football team," said Winston.
Winston's five touchdown passes tied a Buccaneer single-game record that was first set by Steve DeBerg in 1987 (vs. Atlanta, Sept. 13) and later matched by Brad Johnson in 2002 (vs. Minnesota, Nov. 3) and Josh Freeman in 2010 (vs. Seattle, Dec. 26). They also tied the NFL's single-game record for a rookie, matching the five thrown by Detroit's Matthew Stafford against Cleveland on Nov. 22, 2009.
Winston's five touchdown passes went to five different players, including WR Vincent Jackson, who returned from a three-game absence due to a knee injury to catch four passes for 56 yards. WR Mike Evans, WR Russell Shepard, RB Charles Sims and TE Cameron Brate were also on the receiving end of Winston's scoring passes. The Bucs' emerging-star rookie wasn't just sharp around the goal line; he completed 19 of 29 passes for 246 yards, no interceptions and a career-best 131.6 passer rating. Winston was particularly sharp on third downs, helping the Bucs convert 10 out of 16 tries, including six of nine in the first half and all three in that big drive to start the second half.
Meanwhile, Martin's rushing total was the second-best in a single game in franchise history, behind his own 251-yard day at Oakland on Nov. 4, 2012. It was the 20th best rushing performance in NFL history. Martin joins O.J. Simpson and Corey Dillon as the only players in NFL history with two 235-yard rushing games. Martin averaged 8.7 yards per carry, helped by a team-record 84-yarder in the second quarter.
As a team, the Buccaneers ran for 283 yards, the highest single-game total in franchise history, surpassing their 278 at Oakland on Nov. 4, 2012. Martin was also the driving force in that game, and he has clearly become the same for the 2015 Tampa Bay offense.
"Like I [said] before the game, if we could establish that run game we would be hard to beat," said Winston. "The offensive line continued to produce, day-in and day-out, and the way that Doug and Chuck run that football is amazing."
Tampa Bay's defense was seemingly reduced to a footnote by the incredible numbers put up by Winston and company, but It was a second straight impressive performance for the Bucs' defenders. After holding Dallas to 216 yards in a 10-6 win last week, the Bucs forced four turnovers against Mark Sanchez and the Eagles' offense, including two interceptions by LB Lavonte David. David's second takeaway was a 20-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter that capped the points in the third-highest scoring game in franchise history.
"Any victory feels great," said David, who has had two impact games in a row. "This is a game that we studied well for, everybody came in and gave it their all. Offensively, they played a great football game, defensively we played good and special teams pulled it together for all three phases of football. That's the level we have to play on from here on out. We've got to stay consistent and move forward to next week. Embrace this victory but remember, we've got a lot of football left to play."
Philadelphia opened the scoring with an 86-yard touchdown drive on what was essentially the game's opening possession, not counting a pair of fumbles on the same play that technically started the drive over. After that the Bucs settled down and did not allow the Eagles to convert a third down on any of their next four drives.
"I think we just had to calm down," said David. "That first series we had a couple guys stumbling around. Everybody was trying to get the calls real fast and there were a couple of miscommunications on calls here and there, but as we settled down throughout the football game, we were able to play our style of defense."
The Bucs also sacked Sanchez three times, two by DT Gerald McCoy, and broke up five passes. The Bucs' other takeaways were a Chris Conte interception and a Jacquies Smith fumble recovery.
The Eagles scored first after the Buccaneers narrowly missed out on a golden scoring opportunity. DE William Gholston forced a fumble on Murray's first carry of the game and the loose ball was recovered by DE Jacquies Smith and returned to Philadelphia's 14. However, Smith fumbled the ball back at the end of his return, a play that was upheld upon review. Thus getting new life, the Eagles' defense drove 86 yards on seven plays, capped by Josh Huff's 39-yard touchdown on a quick slant.
The Bucs tied the game two possessions later after Martin broke off a 58-yard run to the Eagles' eight-yard line. Two plays later, Winston threw a touch fade pass to Evans on the left edge of the end zone and Evans caught it over Nolan Carroll and got two feet down for his second touchdown of the year. Tampa Bay's defense forced a quick three-and-out on the next play and the offense got the ball back at their own 41. A 25-yard catch by Evans on the last play of the first quarter was followed by Winston's 13-yard touchdown strike to Jackson on the first play of the second period.
Martin's 84-yard breakaway later in the second quarter got the ball down to the one-yard line and Winston hit Shepard in the back of the end zone on third-and-goal from the four to give the Bucs a 21-7 lead. Philadelphia finally got its offense back on track on the next possession, needing just two minutes to go 61 yards on six plays, capped by a short pass to Darren Sproles that became a 35-yard touchdown.
The Buccaneers restored their two-touchdown halftime lead with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that included a successful fourth-down conversion just inside Eagles territory. After Adam Humphries caught a 27-yard pass down to the Eagles' 14, Winston converted a third-and-10 with a lob that RB Charles Sims caught with a leap between two defenders. Sims even twisted away from the apparent tackle to extend the ball over the goal line. David's interception on Philly's ensuing drive kept the Eagles from closing the gap before the intermission.
The Buccaneers also scored to open the second half, and did so in the best possible clock-killing fashion. Winston overcame five offensive penalties and converted four third downs on the march, the last one on an eight-yard TD pass to Brate. The Buccaneers gained 102 total yards of offense on the 80-yard drive and chewed almost 10 minutes off the clock while pushing their lead to 35-14. Another impressive drive on their next possession stalled in the red zone after a 27-yard Martin run but still netted three points on Connor Barth's 28-yard field goal.
Additional notes and in-game details:
- RB Doug Martin's 84-yard run in the second quarter was the longest in franchise history, surpassing an 80-yarder by Bobby Rainey against Buffalo on Dec. 8, 2013.
- Jameis Winston hit on scoring passes to Mike Evans in the first quarter and Vincent Jackson and Russell Shepard in the second quarter. Winston is the first Buccaneer QB to throw three TD passes in the first half of a game since Brad Johnson, vs. ATL, 12/8/02. Before the half was over, Winston hit RB Charles Sims on a 14-yard touchdown pass, becoming the first rookie QB in franchise history with four TD passes in a single game, let alone a half.
- Winston became just the fourth quarterback in the NFL with four TD passes in the first half during the 2015 season, joining New Orleans' Drew Brees (vs. N.Y. Giants, Nov. 1), Miami's Ryan Tannehill (vs. Houston, 10/25) and Tennessee's Marcus Mariota (vs. Tampa Bay, Sept. 13).
- RB Doug Martin ran 27 times for 235 yards, recording his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season and the 11th of his career. Martin is now tied with Warrick Dunn for second in team history in 100-yard rushing games; the record-holder is James Wilder, with 14.
- The Buccaneers' offense produced 106 rushing yards in the first quarter, the team's highest total since at least 1991. The previous high was 102 against Dallas on Dec. 3, 2000. Records for quarter splits are not readily available prior to 1991.
- WRs Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson scored the Bucs' first two touchdowns of the game on catches of four and 13 yards, respectively, in the first half. That marked the first time since Week Four of the 2014 season that those two players scored in the same game. Jackson scored the game-winning touchdown in a 27-24 thriller at Pittsburgh on Sept. 28, 2014.
- The Bucs nearly got the game's first takeaway less than a minute into the game. Philly got one first down on two short passes, but Murray fumbled on his first carry and the ball was recovered by Jacquies Smith. Smith returned it to the Eagles' 14, but then fumbled it back to the Eagles' offense. The play was reviewed and upheld despite apparent video evidence that Smith's knee was down before he lost the ball.
- On what was technically a new drive, the Eagles got close to midfield on a 12-yard Murray run and an 11-yard catch in the right flat by TE Brent Celek. Sanchez darted into open field on a zone-read keeper, getting 11 yards to the Bucs' 39. A quick slant to Huff got more than seemed likely when Huff darted across the field and eluded five would-be tacklers to get to the end zone for the game's first score.
- The Bucs' first chance on offense started out well, with Martin running for 11 yards on the first play and Winston throwing a play-action pass to TE Cameron Brate for 16 more on the next snap. Winston converted a third-and-five at midfield with a slant to Humphries for 12 yards. However, a downfield shot to Evans on the next third down was broken up by E.J. Biggers' helmet and the Bucs punted from the 36. The ball went into the end zone for a touchback.
- Murray broke off a 16-yard run on the second play of the drive, but the Bucs forced a third-and-five when LB Danny Lansanah broke up a pass intended for Ertz. On third down, Tampa Bay brought a blitz and McCoy broke free for a nine-yard sack of Bradford to force a punt.
- The Buccaneers got right back into scoring range when Martin broke free up the middle for a 58-yard gain down to the Eagles' eight-yard line. Two plays later, Evans ran a fade and caught a four-yard TD pass over CB Nolan Carroll, just tapping his toes inbound. The play was reviewed and upheld.
- LB Jeremiah George tripped up Huff on the ensuing kickoff return at the Philadelphia eight, and the Bucs' defense followed with a three-and-out. After Donnie Jones' punt, the Bucs started up again at their own 41. Sims converted a third-and-six and got the ball across midfield with a 17-yard run on a nifty backward-pass play, and on the next snap Winston found Evans downfield for a gain of 25 to the Eagles' 13. Evans took a hard hit in the back from S Malcolm Jenkins on the play, which brought the first quarter to a close. On the first play of the second quarter, the Buccaneers lined up in a jumbo package with Jackson as the only wideout on the field, but the play went to Jackson, a perfect dart of a slant for a 13-yard touchdown and the Bucs' first lead of the game.
- After the two teams traded three-and-outs (with the Bucs fumbling twice but recovering both during their possession), the Eagles took over again at their own 36. CB Sterling Moore upended Ertz short of the sticks on a third-and-11 catch and Bucs started again at their own 15 after another punt. On the next play from scrimmage, Martin broke free again, got to the left sideline and fought off an Eagles tackler long enough to get down to the Eagles' one-yard line. Despite a false start before the next play, the Bucs converted, with Winston hitting Shepard in the back of the end zone for a four-yard TD.
The Eagles' offense got a kickoff return out to their own 39 to set them up for their next drive, and they capitalized with a six-play touchdown march. On third-and-three from the Bucs' 35, Sanchez threw a short pass to Sproles, who weaved through a set of downfield blockers to score the Eagles' second touchdown.
The Bucs crossed over midfield on the next drive but then faced a fourth down needing about half a yard at the Eagles' 44. The Bucs went for it just on the other side of the two-point conversion and Martin powered over for three yards and a new set of downs. On the next play, Winston hit Humphries downfield for 27 yards to the Eagles' 14. Barwin leaped to bat down the next two passes at the line of scrimmage, but Sims made an incredible leaping catch in traffic between two defenders, then spun away to dive the ball over the pylon.
The Eagles drove into Bucs territory in the final minute remaining after Sims' touchdown, but David ended the drive on the edge of scoring range with an interception on a pass over the middle intended for Celek.
The Bucs got the ball first to start the second half but a clipping penalty on T Gosder Cherilus erased a first-down run by Martin and put the Bucs in a deep hole, but Winston converted a long third down with a rollout sideline strike to Evans. Three plays later, Winston did it again, rolling to his right and hitting Humphries on a pivot for 10 yards on third-and-eight. Later, the Bucs faced a third-and-16 at their own 48 and Winston converted that one, too, with a perfect 24-yard strike to Jackson on the left sideline. Two more penalties put the Bucs in a second-and-20 at the Eagles' 38, however. Winston moved the chains again on the next play, hitting Brate down the right seam for 23 yards to the 15.
After forcing a punt from midfield, the Bucs took off again, converting a third-and-one with a Doug Martin run then getting to midfield on Winston's 19-yard pass to Evans. Martin then broke off a 27-yarder for one first down and ran three more times for another one to the Eagles 12. Three plays later, on third-and-eight from the 10, Winston and Humphries just missed hooking up on a touchdown pass, though the Bucs were flagged for holding anyway. Barth came on to easily push a 28-yard field goal through the uprights for a 38-14 lead.