Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston helps Nick Folk go from goat to hero

TAMPA — There are wins. There are big wins. But to be judged as a great NFL quarterback, there must be fourth-quarter comeback wins.

Jameis Winston got another one of those in a 25-23 victory over the New York Giants Sunday when Nick Folk, who had missed two field goals and an extra point in the game, connected from 34 yards just inside the left upright as time expired.

Winston went 5-for-5 for 55 yards on the final drive, including a perfectly delivered 26-yard pass that tight end Cameron Brate caught over his shoulders.

There's a lot of ways for Bucs players to describe Winston in the huddle on drives such as this: Charismatic. Calm. Now you can add clutch.

"Jameis is unbelievable in those situations, kind of being the leader of our ship," Brate said. "Everyone just kind of followed him. He really believed we all were going to do it so we really believed. He made some big plays there, so pretty exciting stuff."

It was the fourth, fourth-quarter comeback for Winston and his seventh win on the final drive in 35 career starts.

A week after throwing three interceptions at Minnesota, Winston passed for 332 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

Moreover, he outdueled two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, who put the winless Giants ahead 23-22 with his 2-yard pass to Rhett Ellison with 3:16 remaining in the game.

In fact, after the Bucs blew a 13-0 lead, Winston brought the Bucs back twice in the fourth quarter. His 14-yard TD pass to Brate gave the Bucs a 22-17 lead with 7:44 left before Manning did his thing.

"A lot of people do (judge quarterbacks that way) and you hear that stats on fourth-quarter comebacks," said coach Dirk Koetter, whose Bucs take a 2-1 mark into Thursday's 8:25 p.m. home game against New England.

"Well, to have fourth-quarter comebacks, you have to play enough games to get some fourth-quarter comebacks. I'd rather we have fourth-quarter leads and held them but we'll sure take it. Jameis was the difference for us on offense tonight."

How impressive was Winston's performance? Consider the Bucs had never really practiced the play that set up the game-winning field goal. Let that settle for a second.

Earlier in the game, on fourth down, Brate tried to run a slant route out of that formation and safety Landon Collins took away his inside leverage, forcing an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs.

But facing third-and-1 on the Giants' 39-yard line with 90 seconds left in the game, coach Dirk Koetter sent in the play he trusted Winston and Brate would make work.

"We really have never practiced it. We've practiced parts of it," Koetter said. "We just haven't practiced that part. But Jameis and Cam have practiced that part, so how that particular one fit in the concept, those guys have practiced it and they told me it was game-ready, so let it rip."

Brate was physical with Collins at the line of scrimmage, ran clear of him to the outside and beat Collins down the field.

"We had talked about it a little bit earlier in the week. But to call it with a minute left on third-and-1, that shows a lot of trust in me and Jameis," Brate said. "It was pretty awesome."

At 23, Winston has a lot on his shoulders. In four days, they will host Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Patriots. A loss Sunday would have been devastating.

"I think what happens a lot of times when you lose a lead like that, it's everybody's natural instinct to say 'here we go again,' " Koetter said. " 'Same old whatever the team is.' The way Jameis was throwing the ball, I was confident we still would be able to move it and get another chance but that's big for our team."

After Folk had missed his second field goal Sunday, Winston told the 11th-year vet he was going to kick the game-winner. That's how good Winston was Sunday. He made a Folk hero out of potentially the game's biggest goat.

Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected] Follow @NFLStroud

Sign up for Bucs Red Zone

A daily report of whats happening inside the locker room and on the field.

 

Sign up for our other newsletters

(View our Privacy Policy)

     
   
Comments
Bucs’ Lavonte David misses practice with hamstring injury

Bucs’ Lavonte David misses practice with hamstring injury

TAMPA — The Bucs knew they might be playing without DT Gerald McCoy, who suffered a biceps injury early in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. But now they face the prospect of playing Monday against Atlanta without another of their defensive leaders, as LB ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
USF’s Nigel Harris eager for chance with hometown Bucs

USF’s Nigel Harris eager for chance with hometown Bucs

When Nigel Harris chose where to play college football, he wanted to stay home in Tampa at USF. And now, after playing for the Chargers and Giants as an NFL rookie, he's grateful for the chance to again prove himself in Tampa as the newest member of ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
NFL Week 15: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

NFL Week 15: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

Week 15 starts and ends with disappointment — a Thursday night meeting of two of the more disappointing teams (Denver at Indianapolis) and a Monday night game that once had held high hopes locally (Atlanta at Tampa Bay). Once.Here's our picks f...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Measuring Jameis Winston’s progress, and Dirk Koetter’s job security

Measuring Jameis Winston’s progress, and Dirk Koetter’s job security

TAMPA — It is one of the most honest moments of the season, captured in the first Hard Knocks episode. Jameis Winston is having a frank conversation with coach Dirk Koetter, seated behind his desk in his office at One Buc Place."I just want to have a...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Jones: If you were Jon Gruden, what would you do?

Jones: If you were Jon Gruden, what would you do?

What would you do?If you were Jon Gruden, what would you do?Well, you could go to Hooter’s and order a pitcher of beer and dozen wings. Then, Monday, you could go be inducted into the Bucs’ Ring of Honor.I’m talking about after that.Would you stay i...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

Rick Stroud and Tom Jones answer a lightning round of questions.
Published: 12/14/17
Bucs’ Mike Evans gives the gift of perspective

Bucs’ Mike Evans gives the gift of perspective

TAMPA — So, this is Christmas.The Bucs are having an awful season. There is no way around it. Star receiver Mike Evans isn’t having a great year, either, not nearly as many catches or touchdowns as last season, when he was selected for the Pro Bowl.S...
Published: 12/13/17
Warren Sapp on sexual harassment allegations: ‘Ain’t no #MeToo’

Warren Sapp on sexual harassment allegations: ‘Ain’t no #MeToo’

Warren Sapp vehemently denied allegations that he sexually harassed a female employee when he worked at the NFL Network during a radio appearance this afternoon in Miami."Ain’t no #MeToo," the former Buc and Pro Football Hall of Famer said on the And...
Published: 12/13/17
Cannon Fodder podcast: Gerald McCoy still wants to play

Cannon Fodder podcast: Gerald McCoy still wants to play

Greg Auman has an update in his latest podcast while the Bucs have two days off during the long week.
Published: 12/13/17
Rick and Tom podcast: Should the Rays go full fire-sale mode?

Rick and Tom podcast: Should the Rays go full fire-sale mode?

As baseball’s hot stove starts heating up, should the Rays go full fire sale to build for the future?In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether the Rays should trade guys like Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, Alex Colome and more,...
Published: 12/13/17