(Update, 6:06, fourth quarter)
Just when it looked like Jacksonville cult hero Gardner Minshew II was going to save the day for the Jaguars, Sean Murphy-Bunting got the Bucs back in the takeaway business again.
The rookie cornerback intercepted Minshew’s pass on third-and-goal at the Bucs 2 for Tampa Bay’s fourth takeaway of the day. All of them were huge. The first three led to Bucs touchdowns. The last prevented Jacksonville from rallying from a 25-point deficit to a one-score game.
The Minshew Effect feels real
(update, 13:37, fourth quarter)
It may be too late, but the Gardner Minshew Effect has kicked in.
Minshew hooked up with DeeDee Westbrook on a 3-yard touchdown pass and two-point conversion to give the Jaguars life. Jacksonville fans booed the Jaguars and starter Nick Foles off the field at halftime with Jacksonville trailing 25-0, but it’s been all Jaguars since.
Minshew, he of the mustache, hit 8 of his first 10 passes for 98 yards. The Jaguars went three-and-out on his first possession after replacing Foles, but capitalize on a Bucs’ failed fourth-down attempt at the Jaguars 46 to drive Jacksonville for its first touchdown.
Matt Gay’s 25-yard field goal capped the Bucs’ most dominant half of the season.
Tampa Bay owns decisive advantages in plays (41-27), total yards (250-105) and — most importantly — takeaways (3-0).
But then there’s this
Replay has been good to the Bucs today
(Update, 7:58, second quarter)
The first time, prompted by a Bruce Arians’ challenge, a replay overturned an incompletion on third down and kept alive Tampa Bay’s first touchdown drive.
The second time it erased a Jacksonville interception two plays before Peyton Barber’s second touchdown run of the day put the Bucs ahead 22-0 midway through the second quarter.
The Bucs are all over Nick Foles
Carl Nassib and Shaquill Barrett have strip-sacks, one that Devin White recovered and returned for a touchdown, the other halting a deep Jacksonville drive.
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Tampa Bay has forced turnovers on three straight Jacksonville drives, the first coming on White’s first NFL interception.
Devin White keeps showing up in the right spot
Bucs linebacker Shaquill Barrett stripped the ball from Jacksonville quarterback Nick Foles and White returned the fumble 14 yards for a touchdown. (Watch):
White’s interception ignited the Bucs’ first touchdown drive, capped by Peyton Barber’s 15-yard TD run.
An O.J. Howard sighting
Bruce Arians wins a challenge, O.J. Howard catches a pass and presto, Bucs magic.
Arians challenged an incomplete pass ruling on Jameis Winston’s third-down throw to Breshad Perriman. Replay overturned the call, giving the Bucs a first down at the Jacksonville 40.
Then Winston found O.J. Howard open for his second reception of the game. (Maybe it takes having only four active receivers, but Howard will take it). All of that set up Peyton Barber’s 15-yard touchdown run.
We interrupt the Devin White-Josh Allen debate ...
Bucs rookie linebacker Devin White has his first career interception. It looked like Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles threw it right to him, but watch White read Foles’ eyes:
Bucs-Jaguars TV, streaming options, odds, etc.
Time: 1 p.m. ET Sunday
Place: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville
TV: Fox (Fox 13 Tampa Bay)
Announcers: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Jennifer Hale
Radio: 97.9 FM in Tampa Bay (Bucs radio affiliates can be found here).
Referee: Walt Anderson
Odds: The Bucs are favored by 2.5 points (over/under 48 points), per Caesars.
The white-flag effect
Rick Stroud, Bucs beat writer, @NFLStroud: Something isn’t right with the Jaguars. Even with Nick Foles back under center, they been outscored 75-33 in losses back to back weeks to Tennessee and Indianapolis. The trade of cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Rams may have signaled a white-flag effect to the locker room. For whatever reason, the once stout defense is a sieve. That’s not to say the Bucs aren’t capable of losing to them. They are. But it looks as though, barring a sudden rash of turnovers, Tampa Bay has too many weapons and will win a shootout at the very least. Bucs 29-24.
Believe it or not, this is the best Florida has in the NFL
John Romano, columnist, @romano_tbtimes: Last week belonged to Chris Godwin. This week is Ronald Jones’ turn. The Jaguars have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. Teams have rushed for more than 215 yards in just 18 games this season. Four of those games were against the Jacksonville defense. And while Tampa Bay’s 3.9 yard rushing average isn’t remotely impressive, the Bucs do like to keep the ball on the ground when possible. It is, after all, the one sure way to avoid interceptions. Jacksonville has also struggled offensively since Nick Foles returned from injury two weeks ago. The high-priced free agent is completing a high percentage of passes, but hasn’t been effective on deep throws. The Jaguars are not as bad as they have looked in recent weeks, but Tampa Bay has a much better offense and is playing with more confidence on defense. Bucs 27-23.
For the second straight week, it’s bad vs. worse
Thomas Bassinger, sports data reporter, @tometrics: Put aside thinking about the 2020 NFL draft order for a moment. Of course, the 4-7 Bucs could help their positioning by losing to the 4-7 Jaguars, but coach Bruce Arians has said that down the stretch his goal is to “win them all.” From that vantage point, this is a game Tampa Bay absolutely should win. Should. The Jaguars are reeling, having lost three straight and by a combined score of 101-36. That the game is in Jacksonville would seem to be a disadvantage for the Bucs, but they’ve been a much better on the road this season, offensively and defensively, than at home (not counting their game in London, a neutral site). Beware of St. Nick Foles, though. He has won every meaningful start in December the past two seasons (5-0), throwing 11 touchdown passes to four interceptions and posting a passer rating of 100. Bucs 24-23.
Finally some good timing for a road game
Eduardo A. Encina, Bucs beat/pro sports enterprise writer, @eddieintheyard: The Jaguars haven’t played a game at home in more than a month, and they’ve lost three straight since their last game in Jacksonville. They were 4-4 then, and now are trying to stop their skid. The return of quarterback Nick Foles hasn’t sparked the offense, and the defense is giving up 37.5 points a game over the past two weeks. The Jaguars allow nearly six yards a play. Their rush defense ranks 29th the league and has allowed an average of 241.5 ground yards a game the past two games. This team is going nowhere fast, and the Bucs, coming off their most complete win of the season, can take advantage of the timing. Bucs 27-21.
In case you haven’t noticed ...
Mike Sherman, deputy editor | sports, @mikesherman: This might be a good time to point out the neither I nor my esteemed colleagues have the foggiest idea of what is going to happen Sunday in Jacksonville. We have an idea of what might or could happen, but come on. Our combined winning percentage predicting Bucs games this season is .418. That’s better than the Bucs and Jaguars (.363) but nothing to take to the bank. I’m 3-8 and have accurately predicted a Bucs victory once (over Arizona). Bucs 30-24.