The Jacksonville Jaguars secured seven takeaways and scored 41 unanswered points on Sunday at EverBank Field to defeat the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 41-14.
The Buccaneers started the game hot and had a 14-0 lead one minute into the second quarter. However, the Jaguars would turn three second-quarter turnovers into a four-touchdown barrage, including two fumble returns for scores. Tampa Bay never recovered, turning it over twice more in the third quarter and gaining just 97 yards in the second half after racking up 183 before the intermission.
RB Maurice Jones-Drew scored four times, adding two one-yard TD runs to a pair of five-yard TD receptions. Jacksonville's other two scores came off turnovers, as Preston Parker's fumbled punt was returned for a touchdown and Josh Freeman's second-quarter fumble was recovered in the end zone.
Freeman did not appear to be affected by the right shoulder injury that kept him out of last week's game against Carolina. He started and played deep into the fourth quarter, completing 16 of 30 passes for 181 yards. He was intercepted twice, but one came on a ball that was deflected at the lein of scrimmage and then again downfield by RB LeGarrette Blount. Freeman also scored the Bucs' second touchdown on an impressive 13-yard scramble in the second quarter.
Blount scored the game's first points on a one-yard touchdown run that capped an 80-yard game-opening drive and followed a 22-yard catch by TE Kellen Winslow on fourth-and-one. That was the first opening-possession score for the Buccaneers in 2011, but the momentum of that fast start only lasted for about a quarter. Blount remained strong, gaining 74 yards on 18 carries, but he also fumbled early in the second half at the end of a long run as the Bucs tried to get back into the game. As a team, the Bucs ran for 110 yards on 24 carries, averagign 4.6 yards per tote.
Nine different players caught passes for the Buccaneers but nobody had more than three receptions or 38 yards at the end of the game. Josh Johnson, who started last week's game against Carolina, came in to lead the Bucs' last drive but threw an interception for the Bucs' seventh turnover of the day.
Tampa Bay's defense was hard on rookie QB Blaine Gabbert in the early going, as he had just one completion and had been intercepted once by the end of the first quarter. However, after the Jaguars cut Tampa Bay's lead to 14-7 in the second quarter on the fumbled punt touchdown, Gabbert hit TE Marcedes Lewis down the middle for a 62-yard gain to set up Jones-Drew's first score. Gabbert finished the game with 19 completions in 33 attempts for 217 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Ronde Barber and rookie LB Mason Foster had the Bucs' two interceptions, Foster's coming in the end zone in the second quarter when the game was still in reach. Fellow rookie DE Adrian Clayborn recorded the Bucs' lone sack of Gabbert and was active in the backfield for much of the afternoon.
In search of a fast start all year, the Buccaneers finally got one, taking the opening drive 80 yards for a touchdown. That marked the first time in 2011 that Tampa Bay had found the end zone on its first possession of the game. The drive was kept alive by a gutsy downfield throw by Freeman to TE Kellen Winslow for 28 yards on a fourth-and-one play-action call, and it ended on Blount's one-yard touchdown run, putting the Bucs up 7-0 just five and a half minutes into the game.
Tampa Bay's defense forced a quick punt on Jacksonville's first possession but a crushing hit by RB Montell Owens on the ensuing punt return dislodged the ball from Parker's hands, giving it back to the home team in Tampa Bay territory. The Bucs' defense stood up again, however, getting a three-and-out and a punt thanks to Clayborn's third-down sack.
The change in field position still helped the Jaguars when Michael Koenen's punt rolled out of bounds near midfield a few minutes later, but the Bucs got the ball right back on their first takeaway of the game. Clayborn chased Gabbert out of the pocket and Barber intercepted his attempted pass to ewis.
The second quarter started well for the Bucs, too. The possession gained by Barber's takeaway got into the red zone on FB Erik Lorig's 22-yard catch of a screen pass, which was aided by a great pulling block by T Donald Penn. After the two teams switched sides for the new period, Freeman converted a third-and-seven on his own, scrambling up the middle and taking it all the way into the end zone from 13 yards out. Freeman's third rushing touchdown of the season gave the Bucs a 14-0 lead with one minute gone in the second quarter.
That's when things turned south for the Buccaneers, beginning with a second mishap on special teams. Parker, who had fumbled on his first return in the opening period, fielded another punt near the Bucs' 20 with two tacklers bearing down on him. Owens, who also forced Parker's first fumble, hit the returner hard and the ball shot high into the air and backwards. Coherty recovered it at the eight and jogged into the end zone for a touchdown.
Jacksonville's offense had produced just 43 yards and two first downs to that point, but Gabbert finally got them moving on the Jaguars' next possession with a 62-yard bomb over the middle to Lewis. Lewis was tackled at the Bucs' two but Jones-Drew ran it in from one yard out moments later, tying the game.
The Buccaneers had two minutes left to try to break the tie before halftime but their attempts to do so backfired badly. Freeman was sacked near the goal line on the next possession and had the ball accidentally knocked from his hands by Penn. DT Nate Collins recovered for Jacksonville in the end zone for the go-ahead score.
The Bucs tried again on the next possession but Youboty intercepted an attempted fade-stop to Williams near midfield. Gabbert caught fire after that fourth turnover of the quarter, completing six of eight passes, the last one a five-yard scoring pass to Jones-Drew on third-and-four. Jones-Drew caught the ball near the goal line and managed to twist around and touch the right pylon with the ball before he was tackled.
(Click here for a detailed report on the first half of Sunday's game.)
The Jaguars got the ball first to start the second half and got a first down on Gabbert's nine-yard pass to Osgood on second down. However a holding penalty two snaps later cost the Jaguars 10 yards and put them into a third-and-15 situation. A bubble screen to WR Chastin West was complete but came up well short and the Jaguars had to punt.
Blount started the next drive with a five-yard run to the Bucs' 25, then got four more on the next play. The Bucs let him carry it on third-and-one, as well, and he powered over left tackle for four more and a first down. On the next play, Freeman tried to hit Blount over the middle but the ball was deflected at the line and arrived behind the runner. Blount reached back to get one hand on it, but that ended up hurting the Bucs as the ball bounced upwards and was intercepted by Posluszny at the Bucs 32.
Gabbert immediately fired a 22-yard strike down to the Bucs' five-yard line, where it was caught by a sliding Dillard. After Jones-Drew was stopped for no gain by Clayborn on first down, Foster intercepted Gabbert's pass over the middle intended for Lewis. Foster's first career pick occurred in the end zone, making it a touchback for the Bucs' offense.
Two plays later, Blount broke a string of tackles to rmable for 23 yards close to midfield, but he fumbled at the end and Jacksonville's Jeremy Mincey recovered back at the Bucs' 31. Tampa Bay challenged the ruling, contending Blount was down before the ball came loose, but the call was upheld, though Jacksonville did lose 15 yards on an unnecessary roughness penalty.
The Bucs managed to keep that turnover from costing them points, as LB Quincy Black dropped Jones-Drew in the backfield for a loss of three. The resulting punt went into the end zone for a touchback, and the Bucs stayed with Blount, giving it to him for runs of seven and five yards. However, holding and false start penalties soon had the Bucs in a third-and-20 hole, and a 15-yard pass to Williams wasn't enough to extend the drive.
Koenen punted the Jaguars back to their 14 and Clayborn trapped Jones-Drew for a loss of one on first down. The Bucs declined holding penalties on both second and third down after pressuring Gabbert into a pair of scrambling incompletions and the Jaguars punted away, with WR Micheal Spurlock executing a fair catch at the Tampa Bay 44.
Tampa Bay's offense went three-and-out, however, as Blount was dropped for a loss of six on first down and a third-and-16 pass over the middle to Lumpkin only got half of the necessary yards. Koenen's ensuing punt went just 29 yards to the Jacksonville 26. Clayborn was flagged for roughing the passer on first down, moving the ball to the 41 in the final minute of the third quarter. Two plays later, a holding call on CB E.J. Biggers led to another first down at the 44. As the fourth quarter began, Jones-Drew found a seam for a 14-yard gain to the Bucs' 42. Gabbert faced a third-and-10 moments later but kept the drive alive with a dump-off to Jones-Drew that went for 17 yards. After a holding penalty backed the Jags up 10 yards, a simple toss-sweep left to DuJuan Harris worked to perfection, getting 24 yards to the Bucs' 11. Three plays later, Gabbert threw short to Jones-Drew and the back powered through a tackler at the goal line to record his third touchdown of the day.
Down three scores with 10 minutes left, the Bucs got to midfield on passes to TE Luke Stocker (nine yards), Briscoe (five) and Parker (nine). The Bucs faced a fourth-and-three moments later, however, after crossing into Jacksonville territory on Josh Freeman's eight-yard scramble. Freeman tried to convert with a quick slant to Briscoe but it was broken up by Youboty, giving the ball over on downs.
The Jaguars took the ensuing possession back into scoring territory, helped greatly by a pair of personal fouls against Buccaneer defenders, the second one on CB E.J. Biggers after WR Kassim Osgood had dropped a fourth-down pass near the end zone. Biggers was flagged for hitting a defenseless receiver, making it first-and-goal at the nine, and Jones-Drew scored three plays later on a one-yard run. The Jaguars went for two after the touchdown, apparently because kicker Josh Scobee had suffered an injury, and did not convert.
Johnson came in to lead the next drive but was intercepted by Kevin Rutland on a pass that sailed well over Briscoe's head. Rutland ran out of bounds with the ball and the Jaguars kneeled three times to end it.
Game Notes: Sunday's game was just the fifth regular-season meeting between in-state rivals Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. The Jaguars' own a 4-1 lead in the all-time series and have won the last four. The Buccaneers' lone victory in the series came during Jacksonville's inaugural 1995 season. … Rookie S Ahmad Black played in his first regular-season NFL game on Sunday. Black, who was promoted from the practice squad on Friday, played on special teams. … DE Adrian Clayborn's first-quarter sack of QB Blaine Gabbert marked the fourth consecutive game in which he had at least half a sack. Clayborn finished the game with three tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack and a forced fumble and now has 6.5 sacks on the season. That is the second-best single-season sack total for a rookie in team history, following Santana Dotson's 10-sack campaign in 1992. … TE Kellen Winslow caught at least one pass for the 89th consecutive game. He finished with two catches for 38 yards. … CB Ronde Barber's interception was the 43rd of his career, extending his all-time franchise lead in that category.
Inactives: The Buccaneers declared the following seven players inactive prior to Sunday's game: QB Rudy Carpenter, WR Sammie Stroughter, S Larry Asante, CB Aqib Talib, DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, G Derek Hardman and T James Lee. Asante and Talib were out due to injury.
The Jaguars declared these seven inactives: QB Dan LeFevour, WR Taylor Price, S Dwight Lowery, CB T.J. Heath, RB Deji Karim, C John Estes and DE Matt Roth. Lowery, Heath and Roth were out due to injury.
Injuries: For the Buccaneers, WR Arrelious Benn left the game in the third quarter with a head injury and did not return.
For the Jaguars, WR Mike Thomas left the game with a head injury in the first quarter and did not return. WR Cecil Shorts also sustained a hamstring injury in the first quarter and did not return. K Josh Scobee suffered a leg strain in the fourth quarter and did not return.