Home win: Bucs rally to beat Jaguars, 38-31
TAMPA -- For the first time under coach Lovie Smith, the Bucs got a win at Raymond James Stadium, with everything coming together as Tampa Bay rallied to a 38-31 win Sunday over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Bucs (2-3) had seen a 13-point lead turn into a four-point deficit late in the third quarter, but a flurry of 11 points on back-to-back plays changed the game in a hurry. Doug Martin went over 100 rushing yards and had three touchdowns and rookie Jameis Winston played mistake-free football on the offensive side.
The Bucs got their first defensive touchdown of the season, as George Johnson forced a fumble from Jaguars running back Corey Grant, with defensive end Jacquies Smith falling on the loose ball, then stretching into the end zone for the lead. Tampa Bay went for two and converted for a seven-point lead, adding another Martin touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Jacksonville made things interesting late, converting a fourth-and-18 with a 59-yard pass play to set up Blake Bortles' fourth touchdown with 1:05 left. But Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson recovered the Jaguars' onsides kick to seal the win.
New kicker Connor Barth went 3-for-3 on field goals and 3-for-3 on extra points, a reliable debut after the Bucs had cut Kyle Brindza after missing five field goals in the last two games. The 38 points scored is the Bucs' most in 21 games under Smith.
Martin went over 100 yards for the second week in a row, scoring three touchdowns -- a 10-yard catch from Winston and two on the ground. Backup Charles Sims had more than 100 total yards, including a 56-yard catch that set up a field goal and sparked the Bucs' late rally.
Jacksonville had scored 17 straight points to rally from a 20-7 deficit to a 24-20 lead late in the third quarter, with Blake Bortles setting a career high with three touchdown passes. Then the Bucs took over to close out the win.
The Bucs offense had stalled until Winston found Sims for a 56-yard gain on third down, setting up a Barth field goal to pull within one point. On the next play, the Jaguars fumbled and the Bucs scored for the lead.
Tampa Bay's offense had gotten a spark with some short fields in the first half, getting a 58-yard punt return from Bobby Rainey to set up a score, and a diving interception from safety Bradley McDougald to set up another.
The Bucs now have the upcoming week off with a bye, then return with a winnable game at the Redskins on Oct. 25.