Photos from Buccaneers vs. Jaguars at Raymond James Stadium.
Game Ball:** Grant us a little leeway with this award as we're going to split it down the middle and ask running backs Doug Martin and Charles Sims to split it. Martin certainly is deserving of a full game ball on his own, with 123 rushing yards, 5.1 yards per carry, another 35 yards on four catches and three total touchdowns. Still, Sims's contributions were nearly as important, as he gained 136 yards from scrimmage, including 56 on a third-and-15 catch-and-run that turned the momentum in the Bucs' favor in the second half (more on that below). Martin's runs of 39 and 20 yards, both of which included multiple broken tackles, created most of a second-quarter field goal drive, and he helped the Bucs take advantage of Bobby Rainey's 58-yard punt return moments later with a nifty 10-yard touchdown catch in traffic. Of course, if you ask Martin or Sims, they would probably want to give the game ball to the men up front, as a line that included several recent substitutes repeatedly created good running lanes. Second-year tackle Kevin Pamphile moved inside to left guard to replace the injured Logan Mankins and kept the Bucs' O-Line momentum from the past two games headed in the right direction.
"I've got to tip my hat and give a lot of credit to the offensive line," said Martin. "There a lot of guys down, that's not how we originally started with our offensive line, but a lot of guys stepped up. Kevin Pamphile stepped up in a big way today. I owe them dinner this week. I hope we will…I know we will continue to play like that throughout."
Play of the Game: DE Jacquies Smith showed good presence of mind near the end of the third quarter when he lunged over the goal line for the touchdown that put the Buccaneers up for good. Rewinding that play to its beginning, it started to turn in the Buccaneers' favor when rookie RB Corey Grant took a sweep left and DE George Johnson immediately diagnosed the play. Johnson got upfield in a hurry and trapped Grant nine yards deep, but even better he popped the ball out of the tailback's hands. The loose football bounced several yards towards the Jaguars' goal line before being surrounded by a gang of Buccaneer defenders. Smith got to it first and fell on it to establish possession at the three. Realizing that he hadn't been touched down, Smith rose up on his knees and propelled the ball over the goal line.
WATCH: BUCS VS. JAGS HIGHLIGHTS
Turning Point: Smith's score was the centerpiece of a Buccaneer rally to answer a 17-point swing by the Jaguars before and after halftime. However, the momentum really began to swing back at the two-minute mark of the third period. After Blake Bortles' scrambling four-yard touchdown pass to RB T.J. Yeldon put Jacksonville on top, 24-20 the Jaguars' defense pushed the Bucs into a quick third-and-15 hole on offense. On third down, QB Jameis Winston threw short to Sims out to the left, the back cut inside of one block from a wide receiver and found a seam down the sideline. He was dragged down at the Jaguars' 29 and the drive went no further, but that was close enough for Connor Barth to nail a 47-yard field goal to make it a one-point game. Smith's touchdown followed moments later and the Bucs would never trail again.
It Was Over When: K Jason Myers' onside kick attempt took a big bounce over the front line of blockers on Tampa Bay's "hands team" and flew directly to WR Vincent Jackson. Jackson enveloped the ball and fell to the ground, denying Jacksonville one last chance to tie the game after they had scored with 1:10 remaining.