Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston Clutch on Third Down

Stat Shots: Tampa Bay's 22-year-old quarterback put on a remarkable display of third-down passing in Sunday's win over the Chiefs and is on pace for a record two-year yardage total.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 19-17, in Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, in the process snapping the Chiefs' five-game winning streak. That was also Kansas City's first loss at home since October 11 of 2015. The most crucial element in the Buccaneers' ability to hold on to what was potentially a season-changing win was the performance of Jameis Winston and the offense on third downs.

Tampa Bay converted on 11 of their 16 third-down situations, which allowed them to record eight possessions without a single "three-and-out" on offense. Each of the Bucs' first seven drives included at least three first downs made and ended in Kansas City territory. The eighth and final drive had just one first down and ended a yard short of midfield, but that last conversion was crucial as it allowed the visitors to wipe out almost all of the remaining game time before punting the ball away.

Pictures of Jameis Winston during the Bucs' game against the Chiefs.

On the sideline, Head Coach Dirk Koetter obviously knew that the offense was moving the chains on third down. He just didn't know exactly how well until he was shown the third-down conversion numbers after the final whistle.

"I didn't believe it," said Koetter. "I thought that was a misprint. First of all Jameis was out of sight today. That's as good of quarterback play of however many years I've been in the league now."

Koetter's surprise is understandable. That was the best third-down performance the Bucs' offense has assembled since he arrived in 2015, and it's among the best in franchise history. Statspass has NFL game-by-game third-down data compiled through the 1991 season, and Sunday's 68.8% conversion rate tied for the fourth-best by a Tampa Bay team in that quarter century. It's tied for the best mark in a road game in that same span.

Best Single-Game Third-Down Conversion Rate, Buccaneers, Since 1991

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Winston converted one of those third downs with a 12-yard scramble on a third-and-10 in the third quarter, setting up Roberto Aguayo's go-ahead field goal. The Buccaneers' final third-down attempt was a Doug Martin run into a stacked Kansas City front on third-and-eight, a play call obviously designed to keep the clock moving before a last-second punt. On the other 14 third downs, Winston threw, and he was pretty close to flawless. Winston completed 12 of 14 passes for 133 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions on third downs Sunday, good for a passer rating of 130.1.

Winston's 10 first-down passes on third down against Kansas City tied for the most any NFL passer has made in a single game this year. He's the third quarterback to hit that number in a game this season, and by the measure of passer rating he had the best overall game of the three.

Most Passing First Downs on Third-Down Throws, Single Game, NFL, 2016

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Winston and the Buccaneers have actually been on a roll on third downs since the calendar flipped to November. Through its last three games, Tampa Bay's offense has succeeded on 27 of 45 third down tries, a remarkable success rate of 60.0%. That's the second-highest third-down rate the Buccaneers have put together in a three-game span since the beginning of available compiled data in that category begins. The raw total of 27 third-down conversions is the best recorded mark for the Buccaneers over three consecutive games.

Best Third-Down Percentage, Three-Game Span, Buccaneers, Since 1991

Season

Games

Made

Att.

Pct.

1997

2-4

24

39

61.5%

2016

8-10

27

45

60.0%

2015

10-12

22

40

55.0%

2010

8-10

20

37

54.1%

2004

10-12

21

39

53.8%

Most Third-Down Conversions, Three-Game Span, Buccaneers, Since 1991

Season

Games

Conversions

2016

8-10

27

1996

10-12

25

1996

9-11

24

1997

2-4

24

2007

7-9

24

2008

7-9

24

Through 10 games, the Buccaneers have succeed on 64 of 141 third-down tries, a 45.4% rate that stands seventh-best among all NFL teams. If maintained that would easily break the franchise's single-season record in that category. In fact, there would be a bigger gap between the first and second-place marks on that list than there is between second and fifth.

Best Single-Season Third-Down Percentage on Offense, Buccaneers History

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Tampa Bay's defense has also fared well on third downs this season, even though the Chiefs converted on 50% of their eight attempts on Sunday. Overall, the Bucs have allowed a third-down conversion rate of 35.8 to opposing teams, which is the fifth-best mark in the NFL. Clearly, third-down situations have been a winning edge for Tampa Bay this season on both sides of the ball. In fact, no team in the league has a bigger edge between its own third-down success on offense and what it has allowed its opponents to do in the same situation.

Best Offensive-Defensive Third Down Differential, NFL, 2016

Team

OFF

DEF

Diff.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

45.4

35.8

9.6

Tennessee Titans

46.9

38.3

8.6

New Orleans Saints

50.4

42.1

8.3

Dallas Cowboys

48.4

40.4

8.0

New England Patriots

48.5

40.9

7.6

Green Bay Packers

46.7

41.3

5.4

Carolina Panthers

41.1

36.6

4.5

Oakland Raiders

37.7

33.3

4.4

San Diego Chargers

43.8

39.5

4.3

Arizona Cardinals

41.8

37.6

4.2

Overall, Winston completed 24 of 39 passes for 331 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in Sunday's win. Paired with his 312-yard outing in a Week 10 win over Chicago and Winston now has back-to-back 300-yard outings for the first time in his career. The last Buc passer to do that was Josh Freeman, against Kansas City and New Orleans on Oct. 14 and Oct. 21 in 2012. Overall, Winston has three 300-yard games in 2016 and five in his brief career.

Winston's pick-free game was his fourth in Tampa Bay's last six contests. In that span, which dates back to a Week Five Monday Night Football victory at Carolina, the Bucs' 22-year-old passer has thrown just two interceptions tied for the fourth-lowest in the NFL in that span among qualifying players. His interception percentage is tied for the NFL's fifth lowest since Week Five.

Lowest Interception Percentage, Since Week Five, 2016, NFL

Quarterback

Team

Atts.

INTs

Pct.

  1. Tom Brady

NE

206

1

0.49%

  1. Russell Wilson

SEA

202

1

0.50%

  1. Matthew Stafford

DET

195

1

0.51%

  1. Sam Bradford

MIN

216

2

0.93%

5t. Derek Carr

OAK

201

2

1.00%

5t. Jameis Winston

TB

201

2

1.00%

7.Dak Prescott

DAL

185

2

1.08%

  1. Tyrod Taylor

BUF

179

2

1.12%

  1. Cam Newton

CAR

177

2

1.13%

  1. Colin Kaepernick

SF

162

2

1.23%

With his 331 passing yards and one touchdown toss in Kansas City, Winston pushed his career totals to 6,722 yards and 42 TD passes in 26 regular-season games. Both of those totals already rank in the top 10 in NFL history for a quarterback in his first two seasons, and Winston still has six more games to climb both charts.

Most Passing Yards, Quarterback's First Two Seasons, NFL History

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Most Touchdown Passes, Quarterback's First Two Seasons, NFL History

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This season, Winston is averaging 268 passing yards per game, which if maintained through the final six games would add another 1,608 to his total and give him a total of 4,288. Not only would that break Tampa Bay's single-season passing yardage record, but it would make Winston the first quarterback in NFL history to begin his career with two 4,000-yard seasons.

Winston is averaging exactly two touchdown passes per game this season, which is an easy projection to 32 by season's end. Josh Freeman currently holds the team's single-season record with 27 in 2012. If Winston continues to produce at his current yardage and touchdown rates through the end of this season, his two year totals would be 8,330 yards and 54 TD passes. That means he has a chance to end up first on the above all-time yardage chart and second on the touchdowns chart.

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