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Poised Kyle Trask Pulls Double Duty in Win Over Jets

QB Kyle Trask, who had an efficient first half to put the Buccaneers in the lead Saturday in the Meadowlands, came back into the game after a John Wolford injury and finished off a 13-6 preseason win over the Jets


Kyle Trask's night was supposed to be over at halftime of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium Saturday night – in fact, he didn't even bring his helmet out of the locker room to start the third quarter – and if that were the case it would have ended on a positive note. However, a scary injury to reserve QB John Wolford pushed Trask back into action late in the third quarter of the Buccaneers' 13-6 win and he added to his strong outing with nearly 100 more passing yards, finishing with a 106.0 passer rating.

"I thought I played well," said Trask. "I thought it was a good opportunity for me to get a lot of reps and show what I can do. I thought the whole offense played well. Obviously, there's always things we can clean up, but we had receivers making plays and every offensive line that came in was blocking their tails off. The entire offense had their part and that's why it ended up with us in the victory column.

Trask played the entire first half and completed 16 of 23 passes for 122 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He moved around well, hitting several passes on the run and extending plays with scrambles while being sacked just once. The highlight of the first half was his 33-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field to rookie WR Trey Palmer, who found the end zone for the second time in two NFL games. Palmer first tipped the ball with his right hand before coming down with it in the end zone.

"We said that if they played any sort of one-high we wanted to take a shot with Trey and I saw the safeties roll back so I gave him a shot and he made a fantastic grab," said Trask.

Trask also scrambled twice for nine yards, part of a first-half rushing attack that was almost nonexistent but for a 27-yard scamper by rookie RB Sean Tucker on a fourth-and-one handoff. With Rachaad White getting the night off again, fourth-year runner Ke'Shawn Vaughn got the start but was hit behind the line of scrimmage on three of his four carries, losing a total of eight yards.

Trask pulled the start against the Jets a week after coming into the preseason opener second behind Baker Mayfield. Mayfield was also sharp in his start, completing eight of nine throws and throwing a touchdown pass to Palmer, but Bowles chose not to put him in for the second half on Saturday night.

"He was up to play and I made a decision at the last minute," said Head Coach Todd Bowles of Mayfield getting the night off.

Instead, Wolford replaced Trask with the intention of him playing the final two quarters. Unfortunately, Wolford was carted off near the end of the third quarter after suffering a neck injury on a sack. The Bucs' medical staff strapped Wolford to an immobilizing board but the team quickly reported that the fourth-year passer had movement in his extremities and was being taken to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.

"That was tough, really tough, seeing a fellow friend of ours go down like that," said Trask. "Obviously, we all wish him the best and we're going to check on him right now. But, yeah, there was also another half of football that needed to be played. It was difficult at first to try to lock back in. We just tried to run the ball a little bit to get back in the groove, then we were able to speed things up and take a couple more shots. All of our receivers in the game were hungry, trying to make plays."

Trask threw five more times while finishing out the game, completing four of them for 96 yards. His 36-yard play-action strike to rookie WR Rakim Jarrett got the Bucs away from their own goal line in the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter and helped protect the one-score lead. Jarrett was the star of the second half for Tampa Bay, catching three passes for 84 yards.

"I thought [Trask] did a great job," said Bowles. "I thought he handled the pressure well. I thought he got the plays in on time. I thought he was poised in the pocket. Obviously some things we'd like to have back. The communication went well in the headset. I thought he did well."

Zach Wilson started at quarterback for the Jets as Aaron Rodgers watched from the sideline and the Buccaneers' defense of mostly reserves mostly held him check. Wilson completed nine of 13 passes for 70 yards, leading a pair of field goal drives and helping the Jets put up 138 yards of total offense in the first half. Wilson's 35-yard scramble in the second quarter was his most entertaining moment and it got the Jets in scoring territory but the Bucs' defense held after that to force a second field goal by Greg Zuerlein.

The Bucs' defense also had the only takeaway of the first half, a fumble by RB Zonovan Knight forced by LB J.J. Russell and recovered by OLB Anthony Nelson to set up a Rodrigo Blankenship field goal in the second quarter. Overall, the Jets were held to 281 net yards, 14 first downs and four conversions in 12 third-down attempts. Dee Delaney had an interception in the second half on a tipped pass and had another one overturned by a pass-interference call on a teammate.

"He just finds the ball," said Bowles of Delaney. "Dee's been with us for a while. He's a heady player. He gives us flexibility because of his versatility. He plays corner, both safety spots and nickel and that really helps us out. He works hard every day and he's a heady ballplayer."

View the top photos of Tampa Bay's Preseason Week 2 matchup vs. the New York Jets.

For the second time in two preseason weeks, the Buccaneers rested a majority of their starters on both sides of the ball. Among those healthy but held out were Rachaad White, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Shaq Barrett, Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, Ryan Neal, Antoine Winfield Jr., Devin White, Lavonte David, Matt Feiler and Tristan Wirfs. In addition, Yaya Diaby, SirVocea Dennis, Chase Edmonds, Kedrick Whitehead, Christian Izien, Jose Ramirez, Don Gardner, Calijah Kancey and Ryan Jensen all sat out due to injury issues, most of them minor. Wide receiver Russell Gage, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice on Wednesday, was obviously unavailable as well.

Deven Thompkins got the ball out to midfield on the opening kickoff return, but most if came back on a personal foul penalty for a double-team block, forcing the Bucs to start at their own 10. It got worse when the Bucs' first rushing attempt broke down and Vaughn was dropped for a loss of five, but Trask hit WR David Moore and TE Cade Otton on the next two plays for a total of 16 yards and a first down. Another Vaughn run lost four yards two plays later, leading to a third-and-nine which Trask converted with a scrambling strike to Otton out to the Jets' 31. A drop by Moore and an incompletion on second down that avoided a seemingly sure sack led to third-and-10 and an eight-yard catch by WR Kaylon Geiger failed to move the sticks. Jake Camarda blasted a 61-yard punt into the end zone for a touchback and a personal foul on the Jets took the ball back to the 10.

The Jets' rushing attack got off to a notably better starter, as Knight went off right guard for nine yards on first down and then moved the sticks with a short run up the middle. However, the Bucs quickly forced a third-and-nine on the next series and LB K.J. Britt stopped Wilson three yards short on a scramble. After the punt, the Bucs got the ball back at their own 30.

Tucker got the call in the backfield on the Bucs' second drive but one run and one catch by him resulted in a net loss of one yar. Trask was hit as he tried to throw on third down, resulting in a fumble that was covered by Otton at the drive's original line of scrimmage. WR Xavier Gipson reversed field while returning the ensuing punt and got around the left edge for a return of 31 yards to the Bucs' 48.

Hard tackles by DL Greg Gaines and CB Zyon McCollum on a pair of Knight runs made it third-and-five but Wilson kept the drive alive with a quick square-in to WR Jason Brownlee at the Bucs' 35. Britt hustled to the sideline to break up a pass on the next play, helping set up another third down, this one needing five yards. Wilson got good protection on the next snap, giving him time to just fit a 16-yard pass through traffic to WR Allen Lazard. A holding call on TE Tyler Conklin helped set up a third-and-14 at the 18 and a quick out to Brownlee came up well short, setting up a field-goal try as the first quarter came to an end. After the two teams switched sides, Greg Zuerlein came on to hit a 31-yarder for the game's first points.

The Bucs got the ball back at their 25 after a touchback but a rollout pass to TE David Wells on first down failed to pick up a yard. Trask got off a pass under pressure on third down to Thompkins but the receiver couldn't quite haul it in and the Bucs had to punt again. This time, Camarda hit it off the side of his foot and it went out of bounds at the Jets' 45.

However, the Bucs got the ball right back on the next play, as Russell forced the fumble by Knight that was recovered by Nelson at the Jets' 46. A nifty tackle-eluding scramble by Trask got six yards and a well-executed screen to Vaughn gained 10 down to the 30. A running nine-yard sideline strike to Thompkins and a rumble up the middle by Vaughn earned another first down at the Jets' 18. The Bucs faced a third-and-nine moments later and had to settle for a field goal try after CB Derrick Langford broke up a seam pass intended for Otton. Rodrigo Blankenship tied the game with a 35-yarder with 9:37 left in the first half.

The Jets started the next drive at their own 17 but quickly closed in on midfield on a first-down play-action pass from White to Brownlee for 26 yards. White then took matters into his own hands – or feet – with a nifty scramble that started with a spin move and ended up 35 yards downfield at the Bucs' 22. Nelson sniffed out an end-around by WR Irvin Charles and stopped him for a loss of two. Two snaps later on third-and-11, McCollum dropped Knight at the 20 on a short pass and Zuerlein came on again to hit a 39-yard field goal for a 6-3 lead.

The Bucs started again at their own 21 and Trask quickly had to convert a third-and-nine with a 10-yard curl to Moore. Tucker was able to spin off a tackle on a second-down outlet pass to get six yards and make it third-and-five at the Bucs' 37. Trask's short pass to Thompkins left the Bucs in fourth-and-one, but Tucker kept the drive alive by bouncing a carry around right tackle and dashing for 27 yards to the Jets' 33. That play brought on the two-minute warning, and on the next snap Trask went deep down the middle and found paydirt as Moore leaped higher than a Jets defender to tip the ball with his right hand and then haul in the deflection for the go-ahead score.

A dropped pass and a leaping deflection by Gholston put the Jets in a quick third-and-10 hole on the next drive and his scramble came up well short this time. The Bucs accepted a holding penalty to make it third-and-20 again and an underneath handoff to Knight was good for just 10. The Bucs called a timeout with 1:25 left and got the ball back at their 30 after a punt.

An unnecessary roughness flag on Langford gave the Bucs an immediate 15 yards to start the drive but they gave 10 right back on a holding call. Tampa Bay appeared ready to punt it back in the final minute before Tucker took a short screen pass and rumbled for 15 yards to make it fourth-and-one. The Bucs' offense hustled to the line and gave it to Tucker, who barreled for three more and a first down at the Jets' 42. However, the drive ended without points as the Bucs tried but failed to hustle on the field goal team for a 58-yard try a few plays later.

The Jets got the ball to start the first half, with Tim Boyle replacing Wilson at quarterback. Boyle moved the sticks with an eight-yard out to TE Zack Kuntz out to the New York 42. Rookie OLB Markees Watts broke up a first-down pass from a falling Boyle on the next play but WR Alex Erickson turned a short pass up the sideline for 11 yards into Bucs territory. Two runs by rookie Israel Abanikanda added up to 19 yards down to the Bucs' 28 before a holding call pushed the ball back 10 yards. Two plays later, Knight took a short pass and turned it into 13 yards and a first down at the 17. Moments alter, on first-and-goal from the six, Boyle tried to hit rookie WR TJ Luther with a quick pass over the middle but it was broken up by Isaac and Delaney plucked the ball just inches off the turf for an interception. The play was originally ruled incomplete but the Bucs challenged and the result was an overturned call and a touchback.

In to replace Trask, Wolford threw two plays later down the right sideline to Jarrett, who leaped for a 21 yard catch. The Bucs faced a third-and-seven after two runs but Wolford stood in as the pocket collapsed around him and got off a 27-yard floater to Jarrett down to the Jets' 30. A pair of third-down penalties on the Bucs' offense led to a third-and-21 back at the Jets' 41. After a short completion, the Bucs brought on Blankenship to try a 55-yard field goal, which he missed to the right.

The Jets took over at their own 45 and Boyle immediately aired it down the right numbers, hitting Charles for a gain of 24. Gipson found a wide open spot in the Bucs' zone underneath on the next play and Boyle found him for 10 more. Abanikanda powered up the middle for nine yards on first down but the Jets were flagged for holding on the next play. Facing third-and-11 from the 22 after an incompletion, Boyle tried to find Gipson near the left front pylon but Hayes defended it well and it fell incomplete. Zuerlein then hooked a 40-yard field goal try wide left to keep the score at 10-6 with just over a minute left in the third quarter.

The Bucs took over at their own 22 and Wolford looked downfield on first down. However, he held onto the ball long enough to be sacked by edge rusher Jalyn Holmes, the play that ended his night. A third-down defensive holding call allowed the drive to continue and, after switching sides to start the fourth quarter, Trask converted a third-and-12 with a 15-yard sideline strike to rookie WR Ryan Miller. Two plays later, Trask faked a handoff and rolled left before throwing a pretty floater to another rookie wideout, Kade Warner, for 19 yards down to the Jets' 26. An intentional grounding call two plays later made it third-and-18 back at the 34. A short run by rookie RB Ronnie Brown gave K Chase McLaughlin a shot at a 48-yard field goal and he nailed it for a 13-6 lead with 11 minutes to play.

Trask surprised the Jets with play-action on first down and hooked up downfield with Jarrett once again, this time for 36 yards. Three plays later, after a 10-yard run by Patrick Laird, Trask threw again and found rookie WR Taye Barber for 26 yards down to the Jets' 20. Brown's eight-yard run two plays later made it third-and-one but he was hit behind the line of scrimmage on the next play and the Bucs sent out Blankenship to try a 32-yard field goal. Blankenship hit the right upright and the Jets remained just one score back with 2:46 to play.

As both teams emptied out their benches, the Jets got the ball across their 40 but had to punt it away after rookie CB Derrek Pitts broke up a third-down pass intended for Luther. A muffed punt by Moore looked like potential disaster when the Jets ran the loose ball into the end zone, but the official ruled that Moore was in possession of the ball on his knees when he was contacted. The Bucs thus got possession at their own 10 with 7:28 left.

The Bucs quickly forced a fourth-and-10 and appeared to wrap up the game on a Dee Delaney interception, but the drive was extended by a pass interference call on Pitts. CB Anthony Chesley broke up a deep pass intended for Charles on the next third down, and this time a fourth-down stop turned the ball over on downs.

The Jets did get one more chance. Two short runs by Brown were followed by a sack of Trask by Holmes. Camarda's punt took the ball down to the New York 17. The last-chance drive lasted just one play, as rookie S Avery Young forced a fumble by Jets RB Travis Dye after a short catch, with Chesley recovering for Tampa Bay at the Jets' 20. Two Trask kneel-downs finished it up.

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