Friday, June 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lovie Smith raves about Bucs' clock-eating drive after halftime

TAMPA — The day after the Bucs' resounding 45-17 win at the Eagles, coach Lovie Smith was still excited about his offense's 80-yard touchdown drive to open the second half, a 15-play march that took 9:47 off the clock.

The Bucs overcame three penalties on the drive — a fourth was offset by an Eagles penalty — and it's just the third time in the NFL this season that an offense has committed three penalties on one touchdown drive.

The Bucs converted a third and 16, a second and 20, and a second and 14 along the way, the drive capped by Jameis Winston's 8-yard touchdown pass to TE Cameron Brate.

"If you just talk about an offensive drive in an NFL game, it doesn't get any better than that," Smith said Monday. "To have that many plays, yes to fight through adversity, to have to convert on quite a few third downs, we had penalties on that drive — quite a few — to overcome that it did so much for our team to come out with the ball and get a long drive like that."

The Bucs dominated time of possession, keeping the Eagles' uptempo offense off the field. After three quarters, Tampa Bay had a 2-to-1 margin on the clock and a 35-14 advantage on the scoreboard.

"When you play a fastbreak offense like they have, you can get a little gassed at times," Smith said Monday. "The way you can offset that a little bit is to have a long drive on the offensive side. That will be a drive that we will be talking about for a long time."

STEPPING UP: Winston was especially strong on third downs. In the first three quarters, the Bucs were 10-for-13 on third downs, with Winston going 8-for-9 for 79 yards and three touchdowns on those plays. A strong running game meant the Bucs had reasonable third-down situations; their first five conversions were all on third and 6 or less.

The Bucs defense, at the same time, was at its best on third downs early, not allowing the Eagles to convert their first four as Tampa Bay built a 21-7 lead by the middle of the second quarter. In the first three quarters, the Eagles were 3-for-9 on third downs.

ROSTER MOVE: Continuing their search for depth at defensive end, the Bucs on Monday claimed Kourtnei Brown off waivers from the Texans, bringing back the well-traveled pass-rusher for a second stint in Tampa Bay.

Brown had been cut by six teams before making his NFL debut for the Bucs in September, and he was then cut after only one game. He has been on the Texans roster for the past six games, though he was active for only one, playing primarily on special teams.

To make room, the Bucs waived DE Lawrence Sidbury, who played Sunday but had no tackles in six defensive snaps.

The team is battling injuries at defensive end, with Jacquies Smith returning Sunday after missing two games with an ankle injury and two backups — George Johnson and rookie Josh Shirley — inactive Sunday with calf injuries.

NO WORD YET: Smith declined to comment on rookie LB Kwon Alexander facing a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, saying the team had not yet been officially notified of a suspension. Alexander plans to appeal but accepted responsibility for taking an "energy drink" he said he didn't know contained a banned substance.

Because the team has five days to file the appeal, Alexander will be available again for Sunday's game at the Colts and potentially more games while his appeal is being heard.

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