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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

More mistakes spell end for Winston- Bucs in Texans loss

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It was a recurring theme of early interceptions for Bucs QB Jameis Winston, but this time with the opposite ending. This as, for the first time in five games, the Buccaneers could not overcome the early mistakes and pull out a victory against the Houston Texans.

Winston threw a total of four interceptions and the Texans held on for a 23 – 20 win Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. With the win, the Texans clinched the AFC South and a home game for the upcoming playoffs.

Tampa Bay was undone early, as three of their four total first half turnovers were interceptions by Winston, digging a 17 – 3 hole and they could not recover.

In fact, Winston’s first pass at the game was picked off by Texans DB Bradley Roby and he went 27 yards for a touchdown. And, Houston was in front just 48 seconds into the contest. Incredibly, this was the third game in a row and the  fifth time in seven games that Winston has thrown an interception on the first series of the game.

Then, later in the first quarter, a second Winston interception led to a field goal and a 10 – 0 deficit.

The Bucs look to have momentum later in the second quarter, when LB Lavonte David stripped Houston RB Duke Johnson causing a fumble at the Texans 31 yard line that was recovered by fellow linebacker, Devin White.

But, on the very next, play Winston threw his third interception of the half. This one by James Joseph.

Later in the first half, the Texans RB Carlos Hyde scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to make the game 17 -3.

But from there, Tampa Bay got momentum and Winston led a quick nine play 81-yard Drive in just over three minutes. It was capped when RB Ronald Jones ran in from 4 yards out trimming the lead to seven.

Texans QB Deshaun Watson threw an interception four plays later to the Bucs Jamel Dean on a deep pass, and Dean ran the interception back 31 yards the other way. Tampa Bay scored in just 29 seconds, when Winston hit receiver Justin Watson from 8 yards out to tie the game.

It looked like it would be a similar wild second half, as Tampa Bay’s 38-35 win over Indianapolis two weeks earlier, where Winston overcame three interceptions that day to lead the win.

It was a battle of field position and field goals in the second half, as Houston got two of them from kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn and a 23 – 20 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Bucs were driving near midfield with under four minutes to play but Winston’s fourth down and short pass to TE Cameron Brate was dropped, turning the ball over on downs.

Tampa Bay’s defense give them one last chance by stopping Houston and using your timeouts, but Winston threw his final interception of the game to Jahleel Addae with just over 1:30 to go, clinching things for the visitors.

Winston finished 26 – 48 for 335 yards with one TD, but the costly 4 interceptions. That extends his league-leading total to 28 on the year.

The Texans mustered only 229 yards of offense, but took advantage of the Tampa Bay mistakes to clinch the playoffs. It’s back to back division win for Houston.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs DE Barrett basked in first Pro Bowl appearance Wednesday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Off the best pass-rushing season in Buccaneers history, potential free-agent defensive end Shaq Barrett was soaking things in Wednesday in Orlando.

That’s where the NFC and AFC top players have congregated for the 2020 Pro Bowl coming Sunday.

Barrett, who set the Buccaneers single-season sack record with 19.5 this past season, ended up being the lone Buccaneer able to play in the game. This, after receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both had to bow out due to hamstring injuries.

Barrett got props on day one from one from Cardinals DE Chandler Jones, whom he battled for the sack title all the way down to the final Sunday of the season:

Barrett then got to hangout and sign autographs with the fans assembled at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The sixth year player out of Colorado State, who was originally undrafted but signed with the Broncos in 2014, then told the media, he’s looking for a big-money free-agent deal. And, further, his preference is that he stays in Tampa Bay.

After all, Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectation in 2019, while playing for a modest one-year free agent deal and betting on himself to cash-in. And now, after his agent Drew Rosenhaus and Bucs GM Jason Licht are done, it appears he will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year just like the top pass rushers in the NFL.

The Bucs also have the possibility of putting the franchise tag for 2020 on Barrett which would also be valued around that same amount for just the one season.

One final cool moment came Wednesday, where Barrett got introduced to a young Buccaneers fan who’s enduring tremendous family hardship with one parent battling cancer and another suffering from the debilitating ALS disease. After signing an autograph for the young man, Barrett gave him the surprise of his young life with two tickets to next weekend’s Super Bowl in Miami:

And just like that fantastic reward, Barrett will soon be similarly rewarded for his fantastic year and upcoming potential. And most likely, it will be in Tampa Bay for a long time.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Evans got respect from LeBron James Saturday night

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The new present day cliche’ for respect among athletes/opponents in sports is: “Game Recognizes Game.” And, there was a neat example of that Saturday night, as the Houston Rockets of the NBA hosted the L.A. Lakers. That’s when iconic NBA star LeBron James of the Lakers came over to acknowledge Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans in the seats behind him.

As you probably know, James is arguably the most recognizable and successful NBA hoops player worldwide in the last 10+ years. He’s a 15 time All Star, a four time MVP, and helped the Miami Heat win two World Championships. And, then came back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who originally drafted him out of high school, and led them to the city’s epic first professional title in any sport in over 50 years back in 2016.

And, LeBron has the Lakers rolling at 34-8 with another win in Houston last night.

As for Evans, he is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest offensive weapon and was having a tremendous 2019 season statistically until it was cut short with a hamstring injury in the Bucs early December win over the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s when Evans suffered a severe hamstring injury on a 61 yard touchdown catch from Jameis Winston and did not play another down in 2019. Still, he joined teammate Chris Godwin, as they both went over 1,000 yards for the season, which was the first time in Tampa Bay history that that happened.

Evans is also only the second player in league history, besides Randy Moss, to have 1,000 or more yards receiving in a season in his first six years in the NFL.

Further, it’s also well-known that Evan is a huge fan of the NBA and he’s originally from Galveston, Texas and play in college at Texas A&M. So, it’s only fitting that he would be courtside during the off-season and the Rockets game against the Lakers.

Evans has made mention earlier in his career that he had met and talked to LeBron James on previous occasions. One reason that Evans brought that up during the season, was his touchdown celebration dance when Tampa Bay outgunned the L.A. Rams in late September.

In that 48 – 40 win Evans caught this clinching fourth-quarter bomb touchdown from Winston and then, celebrated with LeBron James’s signature dance move

James has previously and frequently used that on the court after a big moment, a big win or a championship.

Again “Game recognizes Game,” and clearly James wanted to give some recognition to the Bucs star whiteout Saturday night courtside at his own game.

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