Saturday, July 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-Bears report card: Answered prayers for a team that needed a win

It was a game that went from Hail Mary to Hail Jameis.

Jameis Winston's spin, twist, turn scramble and throw was worth the price of admission.

The Bucs regained entry into this football season with a 36-10 rout of the Chicago Bears.

And don't forget Chris Conte's interception return for a touchdown to go with a defense that forced four first-half Chicago turnovers and exposed Jay Cutler for what he is: Jay Cutler.

True, the Bucs let the guard down with that Hail Mary touchdown by Chicago. But there was more than enough to answer prayers for a team that badly needed a win.

Back, back, back!

Grade: A

Jameis Winston didn't tell Mike Evans to go deep and cut in at the cars. It wasn't street ball, but it was close, and it was the most spectacular play of this game, the most important one.

The Bears had the momentum after a Hail Mary touchdown just before halftime. The Bucs led 17-10, but it was third and 10 at their own 23. Winston took the snap and eluded the rush. Then he eluded the rush. Then he eluded the rush. Twist, turn, twist, pirouette. He went in reverse 25 yards, into the end zone, then stepped up and hit Mike Evans 39 yards downfield. The Bucs scored on the next play. Play of the game, maybe the season.

Way to bring the country together, guys

Grade: F

Haven't we had enough partisan politics? In the first half of the game, Bucs offensive lineman Demar Dotson was called for no less than three penalties by officials who were clearly Clinton supporters. Right? Must have been that. Meanwhile, back at Evans' Trump protest …

Mr. Smith's Legion of Doom

Grade: A

Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith wanted more intensity out of his sagging defense after last week's dreary performance against Atlanta. The Bucs got just that. They brought blitzes and they brought passion, and it helped produce four turnovers in the first half. Along with Conte's interception return for a TD, throw in a huge sack and strip by defensive lineman Noah Spence to kill a Chicago drive.

A helping hand

Grade: A

I'm sure there were Bucs fans who didn't like that Bucs Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy was the first to comfort Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long after Long was placed on a cart with an ankle injury. Yeah, just McCoy being soft, right? I say it was McCoy being a good, good man — so good that a lot of Bears began to show up to comfort Long after he got there first. Every mother and father should show their children McCoy at that cart. This is how you carry yourself.

Whuh happen?

Grade: F

It was their only true boo-boo of the day, but the Bucs fell asleep at the wheel just before halftime, turning off the blitz, which allowed the mostly hapless Cutler to run around, then throw deep into the back of the end zone, where it landed in the hands of receiver Cameron Meredith as time ran out. The ball was all but batted into Meredith's arms by Conte's swipe, a perfect feed, as if it was an egg race or something.

Rusty, but present

Grade: I

Bucs running back Doug Martin returned to the field for the first time since his hamstring injury in Week 2. He carried 16 times for 33 yards, including one 10-yard run. There wasn't much doing, and a banged-up Bucs offensive line, game as it was, didn't help. The Bucs will need more from the run game follow up on this win.

Comments
Dolphins owner: Actually, we haven’t decided whether to levy anthem penalties

Dolphins owner: Actually, we haven’t decided whether to levy anthem penalties

Times wiresThe NFL can't seem to get away from the divisive national anthem issue.The latest developments this week assure that, despite the league's wishes, the debate about how to handle players who kneel during the anthem to protest police violenc...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs, Jensen reach out to fans as training camp approaches

Bucs, Jensen reach out to fans as training camp approaches

SARASOTA — The backdrop at University Park Country Club had a larger-than-life image of Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy with one of the team's slogans for 2018: "JOIN THE KREWE."New Bucs center Ryan Jensen was on hand for a luncheon hosted b...
Published: 07/20/18
Jaguars’ Dante Fowler suspended one game for 2017 arrest

Jaguars’ Dante Fowler suspended one game for 2017 arrest

Former Lakewood and Gators star Dante Fowler, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been suspended from the upcoming season opener for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy in a 2017 arrest in St. Petersburg.Fowler, 23, was arrested in his hom...
Published: 07/20/18
NFL, NFLPA freeze anthem rules amid backlash to Miami policy

NFL, NFLPA freeze anthem rules amid backlash to Miami policy

The NFL’s two-month old national anthem policy is on hold. Hours after The Associated Press reported that Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week, ...
Published: 07/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What will Jameis Winston say to his teammates?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What will Jameis Winston say to his teammates?

What will Jameis Winston say to his teammates when training camp opens next week? What other storylines are significant for the Bucs?Plus, how will the Rays fare without Wilson Ramos, who has been placed on the disabled list and is expected to m...
Published: 07/20/18
Quarterback rankings: The best seasons in Buccaneers history

Quarterback rankings: The best seasons in Buccaneers history

It was Dec. 20, 1981, the final Sunday of the NFL regular season, and the NFC Central title was on the line. The Buccaneers were in Detroit, where the Lions hadn’t lost all season.The Lions, who were favored by a touchdown, took a 7-3 lead in t...
Published: 07/19/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs camp, Erik Karlsson, British Open, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs camp, Erik Karlsson, British Open, more

Besides Jameis Winston, what is the biggest storyline for the Bucs entering training camp? How would you describe the Rays season in one word?Is the Lightning deal for Erik Karlsson dead? Who will win the British Open? Rick Stroud answers these quest...
Published: 07/19/18
Free passes to Bucs training camp already going fast

Free passes to Bucs training camp already going fast

Those free passes to a limited window for the general public to see the Bucs practice in training camp are already almost gone.Last month, the team announced that only six practices would be open to the  general public, with fans required to go ...
Published: 07/19/18
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy shows off Batman-themed Rolls Royce

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy shows off Batman-themed Rolls Royce

Remember last year, when the opening credits to "Hard Knocks" showed DeSean Jackson pulling up to Bucs training camp in a white Ferrari 488 GTB, which starts around $250,000?Training camp doesn't start until next week, but we have an early leader for...
Published: 07/18/18
‘Wreak Havoc’: Winston absent as Bucs roll out 2018 promo videos

‘Wreak Havoc’: Winston absent as Bucs roll out 2018 promo videos

When Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, one of the lingering questions was whether the team would still feature him prominently in their marketing efforts to fans.The team released four sho...
Published: 07/18/18