TAMPA — The Bucs snapped their four-game losing streak Sunday, beating the San Francisco 49ers 27-9 in their first turnover-free game since the season opener.
With their league-worst minus-23 turnover differential serving as the single biggest reason their season has gone awry, the Bucs' emphasis was on avoiding giveaways. And after regaining the starting quarterback position, Jameis Winston provided a mistake-free game.
Winston went against his character, playing conservative football and taking what the 49ers defense was willing to give, throwing for 312 yards and two touchdowns on 29-for-38 passing. After throwing 11 interceptions in five games this season, Winston recorded his first interception-free game of the season.
After losing back-to-back games in which the offense put up 500 yards of total offense, the Bucs showed they can win with less offensive productivity — and by winning the turnover battle.
With cornerback Ryan Smith's fourth-quarter interception in the end zone, the Bucs recorded their first defensive takeaway since the team's Week 3 loss to the Steelers.
Smith's interception was the team's second this season, and it marked the first game in which it had a positive turnover margin since a Week 2 win over Philadelphia.
Isaiah Johnson recorded a second Bucs interception in the game's finale two minutes.
In the first quarter, the Bucs took their first lead since beating Cleveland in overtime five weeks ago. Winston drove the Bucs down the field on a 73-yard touchdown drive, hitting tight end Cameron Brate in the back of the end zone for a six-yard touchdown pass.
The key play to the drive was a deep ball completion to Mike Evans for 42 yards down the right sideline.
Kicker Cairo Santos converted his first field-goal attempt with the Bucs, hitting a 41-yard try just before the half. The Bucs drove the ball into the red zone in the half's final minute but had to settle for a Santos 39-yard field goal.
After Peyton Barber's two-yard touchdown run gave the Bucs a 20-9 lead in the third quarter, Winston threw for his second touchdown, running to his right before throwing across his body and hitting receiver Adam Humphries over the middle with nothing by wide-open field ahead of him for a 28-yard score.
The Bucs recorded four sacks for a second straight game, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sacked 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens late in the second quarter to give him 10-1/2 sacks this season, making him the first Bucs player to have a double-digit sack total since Simeon Rice in 2005.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at [email protected] Follow @EddieInTheYard.