In Sunday's narrow loss to the Los Angeles Rams, second-year Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 405 yards, the fifth-highest single-game total in franchise history. It was just the fifth 400-yard game by a Tampa Bay quarterback ever and the first since 2012.
400-Yard Passing Games, Buccaneers
** Game went into overtime
Here's the somewhat unusual nature of Winston's entry to the 400-yard game list: His longest completion of the day, to RB Charles Sims, covered 33 yards. That's the first time a Buccaneer QB has ever put up 400 passing yards in a game without completing at least one pass of 35 or more yards. The last time any quarterback in the NFL racked up 400 yards without at least one completion of 35 or more yards was opening day of last season, when San Diego's Philip Rivers had a long of 34 during a 403-yard performance.
Obviously, those 405 yards were a career-high for Winston, topping the 363 yards he had in St. Louis in Week 15 last year (Dec. 17), also against the Rams. Winston also set career highs in completions (36) and attempts (58); in terms of Buccaneer history, that's the third-most attempts and fourth-most completions in a single game. Winston, who also flung the ball 52 times in Week Two at Arizona, is the first quarterback in Buccaneer annals to attempt at least 50 passes in two consecutive games.With 86 completions in 142 attempts, Winston leads the NFL in both categories through three games.*
Through three games, Winston has recorded 929 passing yards and eight touchdown throws, ranking fourth and first in the NFL in those two categories. At his current pace, Winston would finish the season with 4,955 yards and 43 touchdown passes, which would set new Buccaneer single-season records by very wide margins. The current marks are 4,065 and 27 by Josh Freeman in 2012; Winston posted 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns as a rookie in 2015.
Of course, it's too early to consider Winston's current numbers an established pace, as the team has not even played 20% of the schedule yet. Still, this stands as the most prolific three-game start for a quarterback in team history. No other Buccaneer passer had ever thrown for even 800 yards or six touchdowns in Weeks 1-3.
Most Passing Yards, Buccaneers, First 3 Games
** Season was shortened to nine games by a players' strike.
*Most Touchdown Passes, Buccaneers, First 3 Games
** Season was shortened to 15 games by a players' strike and three of the games were played by replacement players.
Just three games into his second season, Winston is already rapidly climbing the Buccaneers' career passing charts. His 4,971 passing yards rank ninth in team history and he needs just 172 more to pass Jeff Garcia for the eighth spot on the list. Winston's 30 TD passes are good for ninth, as well, and he would surpass Brian Griese with three more and Craig Erickson with five more.
Early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Rams, Winston converted a third-and-14 with a 17-yard pass to WR Mike Evans. Later in that period, the Bucs faced a third-and-20 on their final scoring drive and kept it alive when WR Adam Humphries went 29 yards on a third-and-20 completion. In the first half, Cameron Brate caught a 20-yard pass on a third-and-14, one play before Winston hit Brate for the first of the tight end's two touchdowns on the day.*
Converting three third downs of more than 10 yards each in the same game is a rare feat. The last time a Buccaneer quarterback pulled that off was 16 years ago, when Shaun King did it against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 9, 2000.
A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' game against the Rams.
Those three first downs helped the Bucs get to a total of 30 first downs in the game, tying the franchise's single-game record in that category. Winston was also at the helm when Tampa Bay got 30 first downs against the Rams in St. Louis last year (Dec.17); the first instance of 30 first downs in team history was against Atlanta on Dec. 24, 2005, in a game that went into overtime. In other words, Winston is the only quarterback in team history to lead his team to 30 first downs in a four-quarter game.*
*The Buccaneers are the only team to post 30 first downs in a game through the first three weeks of the 2016 season; New England (against Miami) and Oakland (against Atlanta) both recorded 29 first downs in Week Two. Tampa Bay's 71 first downs through three games is tied with Oakland for third in the league, just behind the 73 put up by Dallas and the 72 recorded by Detroit. The Bucs are on pace for 379 total first downs, including 251 passing first downs. The team's single-season records in that category are 344 and 209, both set in 1984.