Tampa Bay Buccaneers

McDonald Steps Up for Depleted D-Line

With the Bucs' defensive line depleted by injuries, both prior to and in Sunday's game, veteran DT Clinton McDonald fought through a tough afternoon and recorded 1.5 sacks.


Pictures from the Buccaneers' Week 4 match-up with the Broncos.

Game Ball:** DT Clinton McDonald started the game as part of an interior rotation with Gerald McCoy and Akeem Spence, only to see injuries to McCoy and defensive end Noah Spence force him into playing nearly every snap. The Bucs were already without key down linemen Jacquies Smith, lost to injured reserve in Week One, and Robert Ayers, currently sidelined by an ankle sprain. McDonald was extremely active up front despite the added work, making impact plays against both the run and the pass. He finished the game with a team-high eight tackles, as well as 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. McDonald's sack of Trevor Siemian late in the first half unfortunately knocked the Broncos starter out of the game with a shoulder injury. McDonald's tackle total tied his best single-game mark since joining the Buccaneers as a free agent in 2014, and his 1.5 sacks represent his top game in that span.


Play of the Game:** CB Aqib Talib's first interception of the game came on an errant pass that found him on a line after zipping past WR Adam Humphries. Talib reacted quickly to the opportunity to haul it in and set up the game's first score. His second pick was arguably a more impressive and the most important moment of the game. After the Bucs had tied the game in the first quarter, the defense got two good stops and gave the ball back to Winston and the offense one minute into the second period. On a third-and-10 from the Bucs' 28, Winston tried to hit an apparently-open Mike Evans, only to have Talib read the play and dart in front of the Bucs' receiver for another takeaway. The Broncos drove 27 yards from there for the go-ahead score and never trailed again.


Turning Point:** Even after C.J. Anderson's touchdown off Talib's second pick made it 14-7 in the visitors' favor, the Buccaneers had a chance to tie the game before halftime. A big 14-yard catch by Vincent Jackson got the Bucs to the Denver 35 and an offside penalty on Von Miller made it third-and-one at the 26. Sims got a handoff, trying to convert the third down up the middle, but was stopped well short of the line of scrimmage. Before he could go down, he was hit by safety T.J. Ward, causing a fumble that DE Billy Winn caught in midair. The Broncos would add a field goal before halftime to make it 17-7 at the break.

It Was Over When: Rookie QB Paxton Lynch capped the Broncos' longest drive of the afternoon with a five-yard touchdown pass to WR Emmanuel Sanders with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. That gave the visiting team a 20-point lead before a lengthy weather delay led to an anticlimactic ending.

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