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Bucs back Ronald Jones eclipses 100 yards yet again

Notebook: Also, after the flag-fest last time out, the Bucs didn’t commit an enforced penalty vs. the Packers.
Bucs running back Ronald Jones eludes Packers strong safety Adrian Amos during the third quarter Sunday.
Bucs running back Ronald Jones eludes Packers strong safety Adrian Amos during the third quarter Sunday. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Oct. 19, 2020

TAMPA — Ronald Jones continued to cement his spot as the Bucs' primary running back Sunday.

With 113 yards on 23 carries, Jones became just the fourth Tampa Bay back to post three straight 100-yard rushing games, joining Doug Martin (2015), Cadillac Williams (2005) and James Wilder (1984-85).

“Great team win,” Jones said after the 38-10 victory over Green Bay. “Coach (Bruce Arians) said it was going to take everybody and that’s what it was. We started off a little slow, defense picked us up and then we kept the momentum and kept riding with it. Great team win.”

Jones also posted his first multi-touchdown game of his career. He scored from 2 yards out following safety Mike Edwards' interception to give the Bucs a 14-10 lead, then iced the game with a 1-yard run in the third-quarter.

Over his past three games, Jones is averaging 5.5 yards a carry, rushing for 330 yards on 60 carries. Jones' 23 carries on Sunday were a career high and came after Arians said he was confident Jones could handle a 20- to 25-carry workload.

Jones' strong stretch comes with both Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy missing time. McCoy returned Sunday but had just 1 yard on four attempts.

Penalty-free is the way to be

The Bucs learned the hard way the damage penalties can inflict, and heading into Sunday, Arians harped on the need to play a cleaner game.

After committing 11 penalties for 106 yards in the Oct. 8 loss in Chicago, the Bucs went the entire game against Green Bay without a charged penalty, marking just the second time in team history. They committed zero penalties in a 23-20 loss to Detroit on Dec. 18, 1983.

"(Arians) addressed the issue, everybody corrected themselves and looked in the mirror and we took care of what really beat us last week. We beat ourselves,” linebacker Devin White said.

Related: After this game, Bucs fans better start saving for the playoffs

The Bucs had one offsetting penalty. An unnecessary roughness call on Ndamukong Suh for shoving Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the ground after he threw the ball into the turf. Rodgers was flagged for intentional grounding.

The Bucs entered the week as the league’s most-penalized team with 42 penalties for 410 yards. Last season, they led the NFL with an average of 8.38 penalties a game.

“It’s a big part of every team success,” quarterback Tom Brady said. “It’s not turning the ball over, and then not committing penalties, which puts you behind in down and distance and take you out of your runs and play actions. All those hurt, so you’ve got to be able to stay on track and stay hidden down in distance and that’s that’s the goal for the team.”

Bucs acquire defensive line depth

New York Jets nose tackle Steve McLendon  celebrates during a game last November against the New York Giants.
New York Jets nose tackle Steve McLendon celebrates during a game last November against the New York Giants. [ BILL KOSTROUN | Associated Press (2019) ]

Needing to fill defensive line depth following Vita Vea’s season-ending injury in Chicago, the Bucs acquired veteran nose tackle Steve McLendon in a trade with the Jets.

McLendon, 34, played in the same 3-4 defensive scheme for Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles when he was the Jets head coach and also played under Bucs defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers in New York.

The Bucs sent their sixth-round pick in 2022 to the Jets and received New York’s seventh-round selection in 2023 as part of the deal.

Related: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski show glimpses of their glorious past

In his fifth season with the Jets, McLendon was their longest-tenured player. He played 44 percent of the team’s defensive snaps going into Sunday’s game and will become a free agent at the end of this season.

Rakeem Nunez-Roches assumed most of the snaps at nose tackle against the Packers.

Quote of the Day

The Bucs' Ndamukong Suh (93) sacks Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the second quarter Sunday.
The Bucs' Ndamukong Suh (93) sacks Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the second quarter Sunday. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

“That goes back a long time and I’m sure the cameras caught some stuff.”

— Rodgers on first-half jawing with Suh, who shoved Rodgers to the ground on an intentional grounding call, then sacked him to end the first half. Rodgers and Suh played against each other for years in the NFC North when Suh was with the Lions. Suh was disciplined for stepping on Rodgers' arm in a 2014 game at Lambeau Field.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.