Bucs' Jameis Winston sharp on third down in beating 49ers
The Bucs' turnaround from a 14-0 deficit to a 34-17 victory over the 49ers on Sunday coincided with QB Jameis Winston clicking on third down and moving the chains with passes to Mike Evans and Russell Shepard.
Third down wasn't a strong point early for the Bucs -- they came up short on third-and-2 on the first drive, Winston threw an interception that set up a touchdown for a 14-0 49ers lead, and they came up a yard short again on third-and-4, with Winston frustrated enough to draw a 15-yard penalty. But after going 0-for-4 on third down to start the game, the Bucs would convert six of their next nine in taking the game over.
At the end of the first half, Winston hit Shepard to convert a third-and-3, then converted a third-and-9 with his 19-yard touchdown pass to Shepard to take the lead with 48 seconds before halftime. In the third quarter, Winston connected with Evansto convert a third-and-9, then found him in the end zone on third-and-3 for a 5-yard score, converting a red-zone and third-down opportunity to give the Bucs a 27-14 lead. Late, as the Bucs tried to salt away the clock, Winston found Evans to convert a third-and-6 as well.
All told, Winston went 9-for-11 for 93 yards on third down, with two touchdown passes against the early interception. Evans and Shepard had three third-down conversion each, including touchdowns on third down to convert red-zone opportunities into the end zone.
"That's the money down," Evans said after the game. "We get a lot of reps in practice at it. When it's third down, I want to win, no matter what the coverage is. (Winston) trusts me and he's comfortable with me on third down."