Thursday, August 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bears-Bucs Turning Point, Week 10: The key to Jameis Winston executing the play of the year

Jameis Winston scrambled 25 yards behind the line of scrimmage, desperate to escape from his own end zone.

As Bears linebackers Leonard Floyd and Willie Young closed in, tension surged through Raymond James Stadium.

The Bucs, clinging to a 17-10 lead after allowing a Hail Mary touchdown pass at the end of the first half, were going to melt down at home. Again.

Some horrible outcome — sack, safety, interception, fumble — felt inevitable.

Enter Caleb Benenoch.

I know what you're thinking: Dudes named Caleb don't play football. They wear fedoras and toss 16-ounce bean bags at the local craft brewery.

This Caleb, however, wears a helmet and tosses aside 250-pound linebackers. Benenoch, whom the Bucs chose in the fifth round of this year's draft, was active Sunday for the first time because starting left guard Kevin Pamphile had not passed through the NFL's concussion protocol.

First, Benenoch pushed Young to the ground. Next, he shoved Floyd, who rolled over Young.

Suddenly, Winston had space. He ran left, set and threw a jump ball to Mike Evans about 40 yards down the field. Evans fell to the ground with the ball in his hands, and the dread lifted. The Bucs turned a play that appeared doomed into the greatest of the season, and, perhaps, one of the greatest in team history.

That's football, Benenoch said. You can never stop playing, especially when Winston is your quarterback.

"I know Jameis, the way he plays football, he doesn't quit, so we can't quit as the offensive line," he said.

At the start of the play, the Bears' defensive front executed a stunt (also called a twist). Floyd originally lined up wide outside left tackle Donovan Smith. After the snap, he looped inside instead of rushing off the edge. Because Benenoch and Smith both blocked defensive end Cornelius Washington, Floyd ran unabated toward Winston.

"When you pull the ball down and the protection breaks down, the first thing you do is think, 'How can you extend the play and get out of here?'" Winston said. "The linemen, they just kept blocking. They didn't give up."

On the next play, another relative unknown stepped up. Freddie Martino, who had one catch in his previous six career games, caught a 43-yard touchdown pass to expand the Bucs' lead to 24-10. Tampa Bay tacked on 12 more points to win by 26, its largest margin of victory in almost a year.

Meltdown? Not this time.

After a five-day stretch in which the home crowd witnessed two losses and a lot of really bad football, the Bucs showed Sunday that they're not done yet, and their fans shouldn't be, either.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

Comments
Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota meet again. Sort of.

Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota meet again. Sort of.

NASHVILLE — Here at the intersection of Marcus Mariota Place and Jameis Winston Way, the quarterbacks of the Titans and Bucs continued to go in different directions.During the teams' joint workout Wednesday, the quarterbacks never got closer th...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs receivers come out ‘smoking’ hot against Titans

Bucs receivers come out ‘smoking’ hot against Titans

NASHVILLE — DeSean Jackson turned Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler around and hauled in a deep pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick during one-on-one drills. Mike Evans leaped over Logan Ryan, plucking the ball with two hands off the top of t...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Bucs pleasantly surprised at what a great leader they got in Jason Pierre-Paul

Bucs pleasantly surprised at what a great leader they got in Jason Pierre-Paul

NASHVILLE — The Bucs didn't know what they were getting when they traded for Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. They believed he would be a good pass rusher to help the league's worst defense.But they got so much more.The Bucs have been im...
Published: 08/15/18
This Buc was named to ESPN’s Perfect 53-Man NFL Roster

This Buc was named to ESPN’s Perfect 53-Man NFL Roster

If you were putting together the NFL's Perfect 53-Man Roster, you might overlook the Bucs altogether.If you were inclined to include a player, you might consider defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Or wide receiver Mike Evans. Linebacker Lavonte Davi...
Published: 08/15/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Tony Dungy’s message to the Bucs

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Tony Dungy’s message to the Bucs

During a news conference Tuesday in Tampa, Tony Dungy spoke about what it means to him to be added to the Bucs Ring of Honor and what he told the current players when he spoke with them.Plus, Rick Stroud is in Tennessee, where the Bucs are getting re...
Published: 08/15/18
Bucs GM Jason Licht pays tribute to a mentor and friend

Bucs GM Jason Licht pays tribute to a mentor and friend

Perhaps nobody in pro football has had a bigger impact on Bucs general manager Jason Licht than Tom Heckert, Jr., who died Aug. 3 at age 51 after a long battle with amyloidosis. Heckert spent four years as the Broncos pro personnel director, helping ...
Published: 08/15/18
Bucs could use another Tony Dungy to spark culture change

Bucs could use another Tony Dungy to spark culture change

TAMPA —  It seems a little odd, but Tony Dungy is just now being installed in the Bucs' Ring of Honor, two years after his bust was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Leave it to his former team.As if it matters to this man. Dungy...
Published: 08/14/18
Updated: 08/15/18
Tony Dungy addresses Bucs and tells them the devil is in the details

Tony Dungy addresses Bucs and tells them the devil is in the details

Tony Dungy's team's were known for being disciplined and not beating themselves with penalties and blown assignments. But the ones that reached the postseason or went deep into the playoffs always played the game the right way.When Dungy addressed Bu...
Published: 08/14/18
Dungy says 2018 Bucs have talent, but need togetherness

Dungy says 2018 Bucs have talent, but need togetherness

Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy, set to be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor next month, talked with the current team for about 20 minutes on Tuesday morning, stressing the importance of them coming together this season."They have to have that toge...
Published: 08/14/18
Tony Dungy on NFL and protests during anthem: Listen to why it matters to players

Tony Dungy on NFL and protests during anthem: Listen to why it matters to players

Tony Dungy says the issue of NFL players protesting during the national anthem has been a divisive topic, but he hopes both sides can come together by listening to why players care enough to choose to protest."We really have to understand what these ...
Published: 08/14/18