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Bucs vs. Jaguars: 5 things you might have missed

TAMPA — The Bucs won at home for the first time under coach Lovie Smith, but here are five things you might have missed:

1 Even with three starters out with injuries, the Bucs offensive line continues to emerge from a preseason concern to a source of confidence, helping a rushing attack that piled up 183 yards in Sunday's win against Jacksonville.

The line already had two rookies starting, along with two players signed as injury replacements since the start of training camp, so why not replace injured Pro Bowl player Logan Mankins with backup tackle Kevin Pamphile, who hadn't played guard in a game since he was a sophomore at Purdue in 2011?

"It felt amazing — we want to make sure the coaches can count on the o-line and Doug (Martin) can depend on us," said Pamphile, whose only snaps this season before Sunday had come as a sixth lineman. "Even though Logan was down, he coached me up the whole time in practice."

The Jaguars came in with the NFL's No. 4 run defense, allowing only 83 yards per game, but the Bucs finished with 100 more than that, with help from Reid Fragel. He was promoted from the practice squad Saturday and made his NFL debut, playing extensively as a sixth lineman.

"It's a confidence builder for a young line like this — it's really cool to be a part of something like that," Fragel said.

2 Meet Howard Jones. The Bucs were crafty last month in luring Jones away from the Steelers by paying him an NFL rookie salary (about $25,000 per week) to be on the practice squad, which usually pays $6,600 per week. After a month of preparation, they promoted him, and on his first defensive snap, he got a sack, adding another in a wild NFL debut.

"How about Howard?" coach Lovie Smith said after the game. "He's as fast as some of the receivers. When you get that opportunity, you have to take advantage of it. … Can't have too many good rushers."

Jones is an athletic freak — he ran a 4.6 40-yard time and had a 40.5-inch vertical leap at last year's combine — and is another smart small-school find for GM Jason Licht and his scouting department.

3 Charles Sims' catch was the big spark. The Jaguars had scored 17 in a row for a 24-20 lead, and penalties had backed the Bucs into a third-and-15 in the third quarter when Jameis Winston found Sims for a screen pass that broke out for a 56-yard gain. The play by itself set up a 47-yard field goal, and the next play was a defensive score to give the Bucs the lead.

"I want to be able to make plays in different ways," said Sims, who finished with 138 yards of total offense, well above his previous career high of 79. "It was a big play that got us going in the finish. Everybody (blocked) — receivers on the perimeter, the o-linemen, they did a great job."

4 The receivers came up big at the end. The Bucs offense was all running backs and tight ends Sunday, with receivers combining for just four catches for 55 yards on a quiet day.

But when the Jaguars scored with 1:05 left and lined up for an onside kick, Smith put Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy on the field as part of his "hands" team. Sure enough, the kick went to Jackson, who recovered the kick to seal the win.

5 The Bucs had zero turnovers. How rare is that? The offense had at least one turnover in 25 consecutive games — going back to late 2013 — until going cold turkey Sunday. Zero turnovers is a huge start toward winning — NFL teams without a turnover were 23-7 this season entering Sunday's games.

Bucs vs. Jaguars: 5 things you might have missed 10/11/15 [Last modified: Sunday, October 11, 2015 8:55pm]
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