Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Falcons-Bucs Turning Point, Week 13: Winston's 3rd-and-19 run

Remember when an NFL executive compared Jameis Winston with JaMarcus Russell back in April?

"With Jameis Winston I see JaMarcus Russell," the executive told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "They do dumb things. Isn't it interesting?"

Another "personnel man" said Winston was "a quarterback that can't run" and "has no power in his legs."

Exhibit A: Winston's 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. He now shares the Buccaneers record of five rushing touchdowns in a single season with Steve Young (1986) and Shaun King (2000).

Exhibit B: Winston's 20-yard run on third-and-19 late in the fourth quarter that set up a game-winning touchdown pass. It's just the third run this season on third-and-19 or more to result in a first down. (The play was so unbelievable, the NFL Twitter account imagined that Winston fumbled!)

After the Bucs' 23-19 comeback victory, Winston — the youngest quarterback in NFL history to win six games — had this to say to those who predicted he would be a bust:

"Thank you. And God is good."

After 12 games, no one is sculpting his bust and enshrining him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But the rookie is beating expectations and has been instrumental in turning around a team that went 2-14 a season ago. At 6-6 and just one game behind No. 6 seed Seattle, Tampa Bay is a bonafide playoff contender.

Isn't it interesting?

If the Bucs reach the playoffs — this season or next — perhaps Winston's third-and-19 run takes on greater significance. Perhaps players one day talk about that drive and the win over the Falcons like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Tony Dungy talk about the 2-8 team in 1996 that went to San Diego and upset the Chargers.

Or maybe the Bucs wilt like Chris Martin on a Coldplay album and "Third-and-19" amounts to little more than a footnote.

What we can determine is how much that run affected the outcome of the game and how it ranks among the Bucs' most valuable offensive plays of the season.

The criteria:

• The play occurred in the second half or overtime.

• The play occurred on third or fourth down.

• The point differential was seven or less.

Here's a list of plays that most exceeded their expected value (using Pro Football Reference's Expected Points data):

WeekOppQuarter, TimeDown, DistanceScorePlayEP beforeEP afterDiff
5JAX3, 2:14Third-and-15 at TB 1520-24Winston pass to Sims, 56 yards-1.843.645.50
13ATL4, 2:45Third-and-19 at ATL 4316-19Winston run, 20 yards0.894.043.15
7WAS3, 6:06Third-and-5 at TB 2524-21Winston pass to Evans, 24 yards-0.32.192.49
10DAL4, 1:07Third-and-4 at DAL 43-6Winston fumble at 1 negated by defensive holding4.496.972.48
9NYG4, 6:34Third-and-7 at TB 2318-23Winston pass to Evans, 18 yards-0.561.662.22

Now, let's look at how these plays affected the Bucs' win probability.

PlayWP beforeWP afterDiff
Winston pass to Sims, 56 yards23.952.028.1
Winston run, 20 yards35.157.822.7
Winston pass to Evans, 24 yards57.869.812.0
Winston fumble at 1 negated by defensive holding69.676.56.9
Winston pass to Evans, 18 yards22.528.56.0

So, while Winston's run was dramatic and kept the Bucs' playoff hopes alive, the screen pass to Charles Sims that resulted in a 56-yard gain had a greater impact. If not for that pass, the Bucs likely would have fallen to 1-4 and playoff hopes might never have existed. Fortunately, fans don't have to choose. You get to enjoy them both.

The 20-yard run would have meant nothing, of course, had the Bucs not reached the end zone. After three Doug Martin runs got them to the Atlanta 6-yard line, Winston — facing another critical third down — had a question for the huddle: Who wants a touchdown?

"I wish the center was mic'd up, but Mike (Evans) said, 'Me, me, me!'" Winston told reporters after the game. "There were a couple other guys who said, 'Me,' too, but Mike was like a kid — 'Me, me, me!' — and I got him the ball."

Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: playoff contenders. After the embarrassing 42-14 season-opening loss to Marcus Mariota and the Titans and the discouraging Week 4 loss to the Panthers, who predicted that?

Four games left, and every one of them matters.

"In order for us to have a chance, we need to win out. Simple as that," coach Lovie Smith said after the game. "Winning out means winning your next game. We have a one-game season coming up. This big win allowed us to have another one-game season. There's a lot on the line for next week."

Isn't it interesting?

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

Comments
NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

NFL’s new anthem policy requires players to stand on sideline or remain in locker room

ATLANTA — The NFL and the owners of its 32 teams enacted a new national anthem policy Wednesday designed, they said, to compel players to stand if they’re on the sideline for the playing of the anthem prior to a game."Clearly our objective as a leagu...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Bucs bring back Lakewood’s Bernard Reedy to compete for WR/KR job

Lakewood grad Bernard Reedy, who handled the Bucs' kickoff and punt returns for much of last season, is back with Tampa Bay again.Reedy, 26, was signed on Wednesday, one day after the Bucs began OTA workouts. Thomas Sperbeck, the former Boise State r...
Updated: 5 hours ago
NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL policy: Players can stay inside during anthem if they won’t stand

NFL owners passed a new policy Wednesday with the hopes of moving on from boycotts and political turmoil related to some players protesting by not standing during the national anthem before games.Under the new policy, NFL players are not required to ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

New Super Bowls: Arizona in 2023, New Orleans in 2024

And you thought our headline would be "Mariota hosts NFL draft before Winston."The NFL owners are meeting in Atlanta this week, and that means a new batch of future Super Bowls getting announced for their homes.A year ago, Tampa got the huge news, an...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

It's hard to miss new Bucs center Ryan Jensen at OTA workouts this week, with his long red hair visible from across the field even when he's wearing a helmet."Any recommendations for anti frizz shampoo and conditioner?" Jensen wrote on Twitter with a...
Published: 05/23/18
Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

TAMPA — He's 30."I know. I'm getting old," Gerald McCoy said Tuesday, shaking his head.He's still a young man, of course. But in football years, McCoy has finally reached a black balloon birthday. This is his ninth season with the Bucs, which i...
Published: 05/22/18
HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

Former Gators and Bucs linebacker Scot Brantley, also once a popular sports radio host in Tampa, is battling Alzheimer's Disease and has been rejected from the NFL's concussion settlement, according to tonight's episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bry...
Published: 05/22/18
Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Mike Evans is one of just three receivers in NFL history to open his career with four straight 1,000-yard seasons, but he understands one area where he can make a big improvement in 2018: yards after the catch."I think last year was my worst year in ...
Published: 05/22/18
Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

If you've been dipping your toes in the "Gosh, Vita Vea looks a lot like the guy from Disney's Moana" pool, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has jumped in all the way.The Bucs' 347-pound rookie is massive, has a family history on the Pacific island...
Published: 05/22/18
Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

The Bucs started another chapter of their offseason Tuesday with the first OTA (organized team activity) practice at One Buc Place, with veterans Jason Pierre-Paul and Brent Grimes as the only healthy players absent from what is officially a voluntar...
Published: 05/22/18