The Bucs received the ball to start the game and moved across midfield before a couple penalties brought them back. Quarterback Jameis Winston was then intercepted by Jahlani Tavai to get the Lions the ball quickly.
The defense held up though, doing what they've done all season in sudden-change situations. Detroit came up empty as the Bucs forced the Lion punt.
The next drive would prove more fruitful for the Buccaneers as they spanned the field. Winston would connect with wide receiver Breshad Perriman for a 34-yard touchdown pass to give Tampa Bay an early 7-0 lead with 7:45 left to go in the first quarter.
Again the Lions would get the ball and again they would punt as the Bucs got the ball back almost immediately. It was then another productive drive for Tampa Bay as a 51-yard pass to Chris Godwin got them into Detroit territory. Then, Winston hit rookie receiver Scotty Miller for his first NFL touchdown on a 33-yard pass, putting the Bucs up 14-0 in the first quarter.
The defense again shut down Detroit as a third down sack of quarterback David Blough resulted in another punt. It was outside linebacker Shaq Barrett on the sack, giving him 16.0 on the season and tying the franchise record for most sacks in a single season.
The Bucs wouldn't be able to muster up anything in their next drive and punted for the first time on the day. They managed to pin the Lions at their own 13-yard line. It would prove too much for Detroit, who after another tackle for loss by defensive lineman and Detroit-native Will Gholston would punt again.
Tampa Bay spanned the field on their next drive again, getting into the red zone on a hard-fought catch-and-run by Godwin, who got 20 yards after shaking the initial defender. A false start penalty would back the Bucs up and Winston was sacked on second down for another loss of five. Then, on third-and-long, Winston scrambled to find Perriman open. He took it the rest of the way for a 25-yard touchdown, his second of the day. It marked the first multi-touchdown game of his career. Bucs took a 21-0 lead with 8:13 left in the half.
Detroit would finally get on the board on their next drive, though they'd be forced to settle for a field goal after getting into Tampa Bay territory for the first time on the day. The 33-yard field goal by kicker Matt Prater made the score 21-3 with 3:17 left before halftime.
The Lions then forced just their second punt of the Tampa Bay offense after a third-down sack by linebacker Devon Kennard that dropped Winston for a loss of seven. The two teams would trade punts and the Bucs would get the ball back but wouldn't be able to do anything before the half expired, leaving the score at 21-3.
Detroit got the ball back to start the second half. Their drive would end early though at the hands of safety Andrew Adams, who picked off Blough to get the Bucs the ball back. The Bucs would have to settle for a field goal try this time. Kicker Matt Gay was good from 46 yards to extend the Bucs' lead to 24-3 with 11:32 left in the third quarter.
The Lions answered this time, driving down the field and getting wide receiver Kenny Golladay involved. They got inside the red zone for the first time on the day and then subsequently into the end zone on a one-yard touchdown run by Wes Hills to cut the Bucs' lead to 24-10 with 6:45 left in the third quarter.
Bad news would come for the Bucs on the next drive as wide receiver Chris Godwin was shaken up and exited the field with the help of the trainers. He would be done for the day. It was enough to ultimately stall the Bucs before midfield, forcing Tampa Bay to punt.
The Lions got going again on their next drive, spanning the field on a long completion to Chris Lacy that got Detroit in striking distance. They then punched it again on a carry from Hills to pull within a score of the Bucs, 24-17 three seconds into the fourth quarter.
The Bucs started their next drive with a false start penalty that backed them up five yards. They would get past midfield but just barely, settling for a 54-yard field goal try by Matt Gay. He hit the upright and the kick bounced no good, leaving the score 24-17 and giving the ball back to the Lions with good field position.
Just as the Lions were threatening in Buccaneer territory, Central Michigan product Sean Murphy-Bunting picked off David Blough, returning the ball 70 yards for a touchdown, giving the Bucs a much-needed score. They went up 31-17 with 5:12 remaining in the game.
The next possession by the Lions would have ended with another interception, this time by Lavonte David, had it not been for an offsides penalty that negated the play. The Lions would come up empty anyway, turning it over on downs with just over four minutes to go in the game.
Tampa Bay wasn't done scoring for the day. Winston delivered the dagger on the next drive as he hit Perriman for this third touchdown of the day on a 25-yard pass, putting the Bucs up 38-17 with under three minutes to go.
The Bucs defense wasn't done yet. On the Lions' next drive Lavonte David forced a fumble that Devin White recovered. Ryan Griffin would come in for Winston to finish out the day for the Bucs. Winston completed 28 of 42 pass attempts for 438 yards and four touchdowns for a rating of 124.2. The Bucs then pulled to .500 on the season with their fourth straight win, 38-17 over the Lions.
View photos of Tampa Bay's Week 15 matchup against Detroit.