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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs play impressive complete game in Atlanta win Sunday

Florida Football Insiders

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Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
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After another shaky start, the Bucs came on strong and completely outplayed the Atlanta Falcons for a 35 – 23 win Sunday in Atlanta.

Quarterback Jameis Winston threw for over 300 yards for the sixth consecutive game with three TD passes and the Tampa Bay defense had six sacks and a fourth quarter fumble return for a touchdown to clinch the win.

The game started shakily for the third consecutive week for Winston, as he threw an interception on the opening possession. However, Tampa Bay’s defense held Atlanta to only a few goal to keep the game at 3 -). Then, a short time later Winston fired to strike down field to Chris Godwin, who bounced off two defenders and raced 71 yards from score to put Tampa Bay in front 7- 3.

Winston continued his early turnover ways and threw his second int later in the first quarter. which gives him a league-leading 20 on the season. Atlanta cashed in when reserve running back Qadree Ollison, who was playing for the injured Devonta Freeman powered in from a yard out to put Altanta back in front.

It was the last time they would lead Sunday.

The Bucs came back strong in the second quarter with two clutch drives the first one of 51 yards yards culminating when Winston hit Godwin for a second touchdown of the day. And then, just before half-time another 95 yard drive enabled Winston to hit defensive tackle Vita Vea with a touchdown from a yard out (above) to extend the lead to 19-10.

Vea, the former number 1 pick two years ago out of Washington, had been used, as a 350 lb. blocking back two weeks ago in the win over Arizona. And, he is also a former high school running back. The big guy showed great hands on the score.

Tampa Bay continued their bounce back from a disappointing 34-17 loss to the Saints last week by marching with the opening second-half kickoff 75 yards and Ronald Jones scored from four yards out put Tampa Bay up comfortably 25-10.

Atlanta played shorthanded part of the game, as WR Julio Jones suffered an injured shoulder and was in and out of the lineup for the second quarter on. Jones ony finished with 48 yards receiving on a Tampa Bay secondary that has been blistered all year.

Finally, late in the fourth quarter, the Bucs defense sandwiched Ryan and the loose football was picked up by free agent acquisition Ndamukong Suh took it in his second touchdown of the season from 6 yards away and clinched the game.

The win was particularly impressive because Atlanta had come off of two great performances and road victories against New Orleans and Carolina the previous weeks. However, they had no answers for the Bucs balanced offense which registered 446 yards on the day.

Tampa Bay improves to 4 -7 while the Falcons whom they will see in the final game of the season dropped to 3 and 8

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs QB Winston still not throwing football Thursday

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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All eyes continue to be on Buccaneer quarterback Jameis Winston’s injured thumb and while for the second straight day at practice he was unable to throw a football, he was seen at least throwing a ball of some kind.

First, Winston injured the thumb late in the first half of Sunday’s wild 38 – 35 win over the Colts and after having two opinions on what to do, was once again on Thursday, at least in the portion open to the media, he was going through reps without holding or throwing the ball.

ESPN beat reporter Jenna Laine tweeted this photo that showed Winston practicing with a tennis ball:

Coach Bruce Arians admitted after the game Sunday that Winston had suffered what he termed “a slight slight fracture of the thumb” on his throwing hand just before halftime. When the team came out to warmup for the second half, Winston was unable to grip the football and went back inside for an x ray.

Backup quarterback Ryan Griffin worked the first series of the second half and the Buccaneers got one first down before punting. Griffin is in his sixth season, but Sunday was his first action for the Bucs in a regular season game.

Winston came back and threw for over 200 yards and two more touchdowns, as the Bucs put on a rally after trailing 35 – 21. He threw the game winning TD pass to WR Breshad Perriman with under five minutes remaining.

Wednesday, Winston met with the media at his usual news conference, and repeated twice that he is “day by day” with the thumb.

Arians said he believes the 5th year quarterback will play Sunday at the Lions. And more than likely, Friday’s practice will be the critical day to see if Winston can grip the ball and throw it, especially with some velocity down the field.

The Bucs still have to decide whether they will get a third quarterback to have, just in case Winston cannot play, to be Griffin’s backup?

Winston has been a lightning rod of both praise and criticism, as he currently leads the NFL with 23 interceptions, including three more Sunday. However, he is also second in the NFL in touchdown passes (26) and total passing yards going into play in week 15.

Tampa Bay is on a three game winning streak and gets to play two-win Detroit Sunday.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs moving up in our latest power rankings

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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With conference championships now over, all focus will shift to bowl games in college. Florida Atlantic was the lone state team playing for a title last week, defeating the UAB Blazers in blowout fashion. In the NFL, the Bucs made it three straight victories.

The Dolphins almost made it two in a row before the late-game drama. The Jacksonville Jaguars offense fell flat at home in a blowout defeat. That all leads into how our top 5 looks heading into this weekend:

Florida Gators- The Gators stay on top despite not participating in the SEC title game. They may not have played a game, but they still got a win by being selected to the Orange Bowl. Dan Mullen is now two for two in his Gators career in gaining entry into the “New Years Six.” Two seasons of a row with a big bowl win can only help the gators getting back to where they want to be, and that is competing for championships.

Florida Atlantic- The Owls were able to win the C-USA championship destroying UAB 49-6. This was the second title in three years for the Owls, and their great success under Lane Kiffin. All good things come to an end in this day and age in college football for non-power five schools. And so, Kiffin is now on his way to “the Grove” and will be the head coach of Ole Miss. The Owls reward is to play host to SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs are riding a hot streak right now. They are now on a three-game winning streak. The offense continues to put up big numbers behind QB Jameis Winston. Winston, who threw for a career hight 456 yards Sunday, has the second-most yards and touchdowns, but leads the league in INTs by a large margin.

The defense has been playing very well during this winning streak. Next, the Bucs will go on the road to face a struggling Detroit Lions team.

UCF Knights- The Knights had a rare off week during the AAC Title game. They had won the previous two and Saturday the Memphis Tigers won this one, avoiding the Knights. UCF, however, still won 9 games and will look to make it 10 in the bowl game. They will head an hour south to play Marshall in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa.

Many wanted the Knights to draw an in-state team like FSU or Miami; instead, it will be Marshall. It is important for UCF to end the year strong with a decisive victory.

Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins didn’t win this past weekend over the New York Jets. They did, though, show a lot in this contest. For a team that looked down and out the whole first half of the season, they have completely turned it around.

If it wasn’t for a late review on pass interference, the Dolphins likely would have won their fourth game in their last six. Head coach Brian Flores was livid after the game, and that heart and passion has put his name in the running for coach of the year.

No, he won’t win the award, but what he and this team have done has been impressive with the lack of talent on the roster.

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