On Sunday in Minnesota, Jameis Winston and DeSean Jackson hooked up on a scoring pass for the first time, what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hoping is the first of many. Jackson's third-quarter leaping grab over cornerback Trumaine Brock in the end zone resulted in a 25-yard touchdown, one of two on the day for Winston.
It's not surprising that Jackson was able to score from outside the red zone. He has essentially been the NFL's best long-range touchdown threat in the near-decade since he first entered the league as a second-round draft pick for Philadelphia. His first Buccaneer touchdown is his 35th since 2008 that covered at least 25 yards. That's easily the highest total in the league in that span; no other player has even reached 30.
Most Touchdown Catches of 25 or More Yards, NFL, Last Decade (2008-17)
Jackson's touchdown on Sunday just barely qualified in the 25 yards and up category, but he has typically scored from even further away. In fact, of all those players in the top 10 above, Jackson has the longest average distance on his 25+-yard touchdowns.
The only player with even half of the number of 25+-yard touchdowns as Jackson in that span who has a longer average distance on those scores is Cincinnati's A.J. Green. Green has 18 such touchdowns and they have covered an average of 56.1 yards.
Through two games as a Buccaneer, Jackson has caught seven passes for 123 yards, at an average of 17.6 yards per grab. That currently ranks eighth in the NFL. So far, the former Philly and Washington burner has not been hit with an open-field throw that gave him room to tack on extra yards. A catch made in the end zone, for instance, is not going to include any yards after the catch (YAC), by definition. However, he is making plays downfield as usual. Jackson currently ranks fifth in the NFL in average yards gained at the time of the catch (referred to as 'Y@C')
Most Yards at Catch, Average, NFL, 2017
Once down 28-3, the Buccaneers were attempting to mount a comeback when Winston found Jackson in the end zone, and that score pulled them back within two scores at 31-14. However, the visitors would get no closer in the 34-17 final. That Jackson's score did not assist his team in overcoming a deficit actually puts it in the minority of his 54 touchdowns (47 receiving, three rushing, four returning punts). Only nine of those 54 scores came when his team was trailing and failed to at least tie the game. Seven tied up the contest and 22 gave his team the lead after it was behind or tied.
Here are the five possible before-and-after outcomes of a touchdown and how many of Jackson's scores fall into each category:
A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' Week 3 matchup with the Vikings.
Winston threw 40 passes in the Bucs' comeback efforts, completing 28 of them for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Those totals rank as his fourth-highest career marks in completions and yards and his sixth-highest in attempts. His 70.0% completion rate is tied for his fourth-best in a single game. Sunday also marked the 16th time in 34 career NFL games that Winston has thrown for multiple touchdowns.
Winston's most recent outing stands as his sixth career 300-yard game, tying him for fourth in team history in that category with Steve DeBerg and Josh Freeman. Getting over the 300 yard mark while also tossing two touchdown passes and completing 70% or more of one's throws is a relatively rare occurrence in the Buccaneers' 41-year history.Winston's outing on Sunday was only the 11th such outing for a Tampa Bay quarterback, the most recent one coming six years ago when Freeman did it against Green Bay on Nov. 20, 2011.
Winston is already halfway to the Buccaneers' record for 300-yard passing games, and he's doing it at a greater pace than those still above him on the list.
Most 300-Yard Passing Games, Buccaneer History
Winston's other touchdown in Sunday's game went to tight end Cameron Brate, who scored on a 15-yard catch over the middle in the third quarter. Brate now has 12 touchdown receptions in his relatively short career, which is already tied for third-most in team history by a tight end. Ring of Honor member Jimmie Giles is far and away the leader, as his 34 touchdown catches are the most in franchise player period, regardless of position. Dave Moore is next with 24 but Brate has already matched Kellen Winslow's dozen TDs as a Buccaneer.
Of note: Giles caught his 12th touchdown pass in his 35th game as a Buccaneer, but he had already played 14 games as a rookie with the Houston Oilers, making it his 49th NFL outing overall. Giles got to a dozen one game faster than Brate in terms of their Buccaneer tenures, but Brate did it in 36 career NFL games, all with Tampa Bay.
Brate is just the eighth Buccaneer ever to get to 12 touchdowns within his first 40 games, and the first tight end to do so. Nine of those 12 touchdowns have come since the start of the 2016 season. Despite his team having played one less contest than every other club except Miami in that span (courtesy of Hurricane Irma), Brate has been the NFL's most prolific score among tight ends since the start of '16.
Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL Tight Ends, 2016-17
Odds and Ends
- Bernard Reedy's 50-yard kickoff return in Minnesota on Sunday was the longest by a Buccaneer in five years, since Arrelious Benn took one back 55 yards against the Giants on Sept. 16, 2012. Reedy, who had three returns for 79 yards in the game, owns the longest kickoff runback in the NFL so far this season. Last year, the Buccaneers' longest kickoff return was 26 yards.
- Nick Folk made a 40-yard field goal in his only attempt Sunday. He is four-for-four on field goal tries so far this season. The record for most field goals made to begin a tenure with the Buccaneers is 10, by Martin Gramatica in his 1999 rookie season.
- After gaining 117 rushing yards in a season-opening win against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 17, the Buccaneers were able to accumulate just 26 yards on the ground in Minnesota. That came on a total of nine carries, as the Buccaneers went almost exclusively to the pass in the second half in an attempt to reduce a large deficit. Those nine carries tied for the lowest single-game total in franchise history; the Buccaneers also had just nine carries in a 23-17 loss on Nov. 15, 1987…coincidentally also in Minnesota.