By Leo Haggerty
Archived under Featured Articles – Professional & Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Well, I was happily wrong with my prognostication about the Bucs in Jacksonville.  The Pewter Pirates jumped out to an early 15-0 first quarter lead and never looked back.  The Buccaneers manhandled the Jags 28-11 at TIAA Bank Field.  The even better news is that, I believe, Tampa Bay has turned the corner and there’s some really good football on the horizon.

The victory was the first time that the Buccaneers have strung together back-to-back wins in 2019.  That propelled the Black & Red to 5-7 and into second place in the National Football Conference South Division.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that the Bucs still trail the Saints by a whopping five games and catching New Orleans is a dead issue.

The Jaguars, in the midst of a four-game skid, fell to 4-8.  That put Jacksonville at 4-8 on the campaign and in the cellar of the American Football Conference South Division.  The Black & Gold trail the division-leading Texans by four full games.

Why were the Buccaneers able to handily beat the Jaguars? Well, let’s go back to my GOAL LINE STAND column because there are some salient points that I made that are seemingly coming to fruition for Tampa Bay.

My first key to victory was to attack and, boy, did the Pewter Pirates do that in waves. The best part was that they did it on both sides of the football.

On offense, Tampa Bay never took their foot off the gas pedal.  The Bucs controlled the pigskin for just over seven minutes longer than the Jaguars and only turned the football over once.

On defense, the Buccaneers were on fire.  They continually harassed Jacksonville QBs Nick Foles and Gardner Minchew.  Tampa Bay picked off two passes, one from each of the Jags signal callers, and forced Foles into fumbling twice with one of them being taken to the house by LB Devin White.  Plus, the charges of DC Todd Bowles completely shut down the run allowing Jacksonville only 49 yards in 17 attempts with no carry exceeding 10 yards.  Now, that’s how you play defense in the National Football League.

Another one of my keys to victory was to remain balanced on offense,  The Bucs accomplished that with flying colors.  OC Byron Leftwich called a masterful game and QB Jameis Winston and company executed it perfectly.  The Pewter Pirates ran the ball 31 times for 74 yards and a couple of scores while completing 21-of-33 passes for 241 yards and a TD with no interceptions.

Those are two big boxes to check that led to a Buccaneers victory.  Now, can they keep it up?

I think they can and I also believe that this game, like the ones that transformed the “Yuks” into the Bucs in San Diego during the tenure of HC Tony Dungy as well as the one that broke the “Cold Weather Curse” with a victory in sub-freezing Chicago under the leadership of HC Jon Gruden, will be remember in Pewter Pirate lore.  We will go back, as we have done with the other two highlight Buccaneers wins, and remember this game as the turning point of the Bruce Arians regime.

So, how does Tampa Bay keep the ball rolling?  Check out my GOAL LINE STAND column later this week that contains my four keys for beating the Colts.  Enjoy.