The Buccaneers' season opener against the Falcons had all of the makings of an instant classic when both teams broke for halftime. There were several lead changes, along with a handful of explosive plays. Heading into the second half, the Buccaneers held onto a three-point lead.
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But in the third quarter, Tampa Bay's offense caught fire. The Buccaneers rattled off two touchdowns, which were Jameis Winston's third and fourth touchdown passes of the day, and the Buccaneers found themselves up by three scores. Mike Evans picked caught four passes for 95 yards, in that third quarter and Tampa Bay would ultimately win, 31-24.
Winston missed his mark on a few passes early in the game, including a would-be touchdown to Evans in the first quarter. But he was determined to bounce back.
"We always talk about how love is the reason for the fight, and I love this game so much," Winston said. "I don't want to let my guys down and I have to bounce back. The quarterback's got to have its snap and clear mentality. Nothing can phase me. It doesn't matter if I have three picks in the first quarter like I did before. We have to bounce back."
And bounce back he did. Winston would finish the game with 281 yards and a passer rating of 122.6. Winston's passer rating was the third-highest in the league, behind Drew Brees (131.3) and Matthew Stafford (128.6).
The Buccaneers find themselves in sole possession of first place in the NFC South with the Panthers, Saints and Falcons all losing in Week 1. Winston spoke about enjoying the Buccaneers' victory, but already found himself talking about next week's opponent, the Cardinals.
"We didn't play perfect football," he said. "We played good football, but we did not play perfect football. So, we have to continue to get better. We are going to Arizona, another road game. Great team. I'm looking forward to seeing these guys on the field. I know they have a lot of big name guys and a great offense. So, we have to be on it. This thing about the NFL, you've got to enjoy this, you've only got this day. I like when we play at 1:00, so I can actually enjoy it from 5:00 until I go to sleep. We've got to move past this victory and go ahead to Arizona."