Jameis Winston likes to say he was born to play quarterback and win championships. But before that can happen in the NFL, he has to learn how to win by bringing his team back from behind in the fourth quarter, to overcome his own mistakes, to make clutch throws on a day when not much had gone right until the final drive. • Last Sunday, the Bucs trailed the Dallas Cowboys 6-3 with four minutes left in the game and the ball near midfield. Winston's previous throw had been intercepted, his second of the game. • You think it's easy for a 21-year-old rookie to play quarterback in the NFL? The 40-second clock is ticking, Winston has to cover his ears to hear offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter calling the plays in his helmet speaker, he has to shout the plays in the huddle, change the play at the line of scrimmage, make the right read of the defense, know his progression on pass plays, avoid the rush, keep his eyes downfield and deliver an accurate throw.
"I think that fits in persevering, being able to overcome adversity," Winston said. "It fits in that category. I think that's huge, because when you have a team that's depending on one guy in those situations the fans, the team, even the coaches look at one guy. You have to come through in those situations. When you have a great team and guys around you that are hungry to win games, it makes my job easier."
The Bucs beat Dallas 10-6 Sunday on Winston's 1-yard touchdown run. What you didn't know was the shifting complexity of the Cowboys defense and adjustments Winston had to make on the fly to pull it off.
Even before Winston took the field with four minutes remaining in the game for the final drive, Koetter was confident the Bucs would move the ball into scoring position.
"I think the best thing to say about it is that we had been moving the ball all day," Koetter said. "Like I told the team, we had it four other times on their side of the 50-yard line and got zero points. Two interceptions, a missed field goal and then a punt.
"A lot of young guys, after you moved it that many times, would be frustrated and in the tank. That's one thing about Jameis, he will compete until the bitter end. And even though he had not played his best game up to that point, we kept telling him and he was saying it on the sideline, "Hang in there. We're in it! We're in it!' "
Quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian, who is in the coaches' box on game day, spoke to Winston before the final drive.
"I talked to him briefly and said, 'Hey listen, this is going to be it now,' " Bajakian said. "We call it snap and clear. Forget the last play. Four minutes left. This is the epitome of a snap and clear situation."
First and 10 at TB 44, 4:00 remaining
Winston is in the shotgun with a running back to his right and four receivers. The play is a screen to Doug Martin. But Winston checks to a pass to Mike Evans, who is lined up in the slot to his right and is going to run an over route. Winston double clutches on the throw, which is behind Evans, and takes a hit from defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
"We had a pass-screen option on and Jameis checked to the pass and we got the holding call," Koetter said.
The penalty on Brandon Carr results in 5 yards and a first down at midfield.
First and 10, TB 49, 3:54
The Bucs want to run some clock on the drive and call a zone run to the right to Doug Martin, who picks up 4 yards. "One of our base runs," Koetter said.
Second and 6, DAL 47, 3:16
Winston's primary receiver on this play is running back Doug Martin, who is lined up beside him in the shotgun and runs to the right flat. Winston expects man coverage, but the Cowboys jump into a zone. So he hits receiver Donteea Dye on a crossing route in front of the linebackers and the rookie makes Anthony Hitchens miss for an 11-yard gain and first down.
"He got off the primary receiver, checked it down to D.D.," Koetter said. "His primary was the running back. We say it all the time, a 3- and 4-yard pass turns into an 11-yard gain. Nice play by D.D."
First and 10, DAL 36, 2:37
On the previous play, Martin was open and Winston didn't pull the trigger. So Koetter flipped sides and ran the same play again to Martin, this time with him getting the football for only a 3-yard gain.
"We were guessing man coverage," Koetter said. "We basically flipped the same play over to the other side. We ran kind of like a double rub route and (Rolando McClain) jumped outside and actually covered it pretty well."
Second and 7, DAL 33, 2:10
This was the play of the drive and one they'd worked on since offseason workouts. Winston throws it well. Tight end Brandon Myers works from the slot and runs a double move. Safety Jeff Heath, who had two INTs on the day, is sitting over top of Evans to help Carr.
"The key to the whole play was Brandon saw the free safety rolling over the top when he made his double move and he bent it back to the middle of the field."
Winston throws a wobbler high and slightly behind Myers as he takes another whack. First down. The two-minute warning stops the clock.
First and 10, DAL 16, 2:00
The Bucs, not sure what to expect from the Cowboys, give Winston a zone beater on one side and a man-to-man beater on the other. As he's gathering the snap, he has to recognize it's zone coverage and checks the ball to Sims for a 6-yard gain.
"Dallas started using their timeouts because they knew we had at least a field goal in the bag," Koetter said.
Timeout No. 1 for Dallas.
Second and 4, DAL 10, 1:23
The Bucs want the Cowboys to use a timeout, so they run the ball with Sims for 5 yards.
"It was blocked really well," Koetter said. "He was just a step away from scoring there."
Cowboys use timeout No. 2.
First and goal, DAL 5, 1:18
Already in chip-shot field goal range, the Bucs want the Cowboys' last timeout and run Martin off right tackle for 1 yard.
Second and goal, DAL 4, 1:13
Winston is expecting man coverage. But as he receives the snap, he realizes it's zone. He has fullback Jorvorskie Lane in the right flat but doesn't pull the trigger. Instead, he works back across field to his left to Evans and throws the ball away under duress.
"It was a smart play," Bajakian said.
"That might be the hardest thing for a young quarterback to do is throw it away," Koetter said.
Third and goal, DAL 4, 1:07
The Bucs have a double crossing route with running back Bobby Rainey, who is in the backfield, and receiver Russell Shepard, who is held by Heath. Winston sees the hold and takes off running.
"If he didn't grab him, Shepard is out the back door and chances are we score," Koetter said. "It was a smart play by them. Jameis takes off running because he sees the guy he's trying to throw to is getting held, he tries to run it."
Winston loses the ball in midair as he hurdles toward the goal line and the fumble is recovered in the end zone by Lawrence. "No matter how he tries to get in, he's got to hold onto the ball. It's always going to be safer to go low," Koetter said.
First and goal, DAL 1, 0:54
The Bucs know Dallas has to sell out for the run. Winston is given a run-pass option on a bootleg. Tight ends Luke Stocker and Brandon Myers are going to block down, then sneak out into the end zone. But they do such a good job of pinning their defenders, Winston virtually walks into the end zone for a touchdown.
"He's going to have two possible targets or a run option," Koetter said. "Great decisions by Brandon and Luke to pin their guys and Jameis walks in."
Winston goes 4-of-5 on the drive for 37 yards, targeting five receivers, and runs for a touchdown.
"When you get that pressure, I just love it," Winston said. "I love the pressure, because I know I have teammates that are going to be with me at any given moment."