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Jameis Winston Lights Up the Night

Via Buccaneers.com

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a 24-21 decision to the visiting Atlanta Falcons on Monday night, but the game was in doubt until the final second as Patrick Murray’s 54-yard field goal attempt sailed just a bit right of the goalpost.

The Buccaneers set Murray up for that difficult attempt with a six-play, 35-yard drive in the game’s last minute. After the game, quarterback Jameis Winston said the target for the offense, in order to give Murray a chance, was the Falcons’ 35-yard line or better. As it turned out, Winston’s last pass was an 11-yard completion to tight end Cameron Brate that put the ball at the Atlanta 36. Without a timeout, Winston hurriedly spiked the ball on the next play to stop the clock for Murray’s kick.

There’s no way to know if one more yard would have made a difference for Murray, but it would have given Winston his fifth 300-yard passing game of the season and the 10th of his career. Instead, he finished at 299, just the second time a Buccaneer passer has thrown for that exact total in a game. Josh Freeman also missed a 300-yard outing by one against Washington on Sept. 30, 2012.

That’s obviously just a statistical oddity, not a specific accomplishment for Winston. However, his 299-yard day also included three touchdown passes, and Winston has now done that as many times as any other quarterback in Bucs history. Like Brad Johnson, who was in attendance on Monday night to celebrate Jon Gruden’s induction into the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium, Winston now has eight games in which he’s thrown three or more touchdown passes. Winston reached that mark in six fewer games with the Buccaneers than Johnson had.

Most Games with 3+ Touchdown Passes, Buccaneers History

Quarterback Seasons 3+ TD Games Total Games
1t. Jameis Winston 2015-17 8 43
1t. Brad Johnson 2001-03 8 49
3t. Trent Dilfer 1994-99 6 79
3t. Josh Freeman 2009-13 6 60
5t. Steve DeBerg 1984-87; 92-93 5 64
5t. Vinny Testaverde 1987-92 5 76

Not surprisingly, Winston is also rapidly climbing up the Buccaneers’ all-time chart for touchdowns, with Monday’s trio pushing his career mark to 67. That moved him out of a tie with Johnson into sole possession of fifth place, and he needs just four more to take over fourth.

Most Touchdown Passes, Buccaneers History

Quarterback Seasons TD Passes
1. Josh Freeman 2009-13 80
2. Vinny Testaverde 1987-92 77
3. Doug Williams 2001-03 73
4. Trent Dilfer 1994-99 70
5 Jameis Winston 2015-17 67

Winston’s three touchdown passes against the Falcons also helped him move up one more spot on the list of all NFL quarterbacks for their first three seasons. Having passed his Monday night opponent, Matt Ryan, Winston now stands eighth on that list, two behind Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles for seventh.

Most Touchdown Passes, Player’s First Three Seasons, NFL History

Quarterback Team Seasons TDs
Dan Marino MIA 1983-85 98
Andrew Luck IND 2012-14 86
Peyton Manning IND 1998-2000 85
Derek Carr OAK 2014-16 81
Andy Dalton CIN 2011-13 80
Russell Wilson SEA 2012-14 72
Blake Bortles JAX 2014-16 69
Jameis Winston TB 2015-17 67
Matt Ryan ATL 2008-10 66
Cam Newton CAR 2011-13 64

Winston hit on 27 of his 35 passes against the Falcons for a completion rate of 77.1%, the best single-game mark of his young career. It was also the best completion percentage in a game by a Bucs quarterback in four years, following an outing by Mike Glennon on Nov. 17, 2013, also against Atlanta, in which he was good on 87.0% of his tries.

That high completion rate combined with his three touchdowns and no interceptions gave Winston a 130.5 passer rating for the night, the second-best single-game mark of his career. The only superior performance was his five-touchdown explosion at Philadelphia in his 2015 rookie year.

Winston’s three touchdown passes went to wide receivers Mike Evans and Adam Humphries and tight end O.J. Howard. While Humphries scored for the first time this season, the touchdowns for Evans and Howard were their fifth and sixth of the campaign, respectively. Those two combine with tight end Cameron Brate (six touchdowns) to give the Buccaneers three players with five or more TD catches. That marks the first time in franchise history that three Buccaneers have each recorded five or more touchdown catches in the same season.

Tampa Bay is one of four teams in the NFL to feature three players with five-plus touchdown catches this year.

Team Players with 5+ TD Receptions
Tampa Bay Cameron Brate (6), O.J. Howard (6), Mike Evans (5)
New England Rob Gronkowski (7), Brandin Cooks (6), Chris Hogan (5)
Philadelphia Alshon Jeffery (9), Nelson Agholor (8), Zach Ertz (8)
Seattle Jimmy Graham (9), Paul Richardson (6), Doug Baldwin (5)

The touchdown for Evans was the 32nd of his career, inching him closer to the Buccaneers’ all-time record in that category. He is now just two behind Ring of Honor member Jimmie Giles for the top spot, and he has now surpassed Kevin House for the lead among wide receivers.

Most Career Touchdown Receptions, Buccaneers

Player Pos. Seasons Rec. TDs
1. Jimmie Giles TE 1978-86 34
2. Mike Evans WR 2014-17 32
3. Kevin House WR 1980-86 31
4. Joey Galloway WR 2004-08 28
5. Mark Carrier WR 1987-92 27

Evans scored his 32nd touchdown on a leaping, 42-yard catch in the end zone in the third quarter. That was part of a five-catch, 79-yard performance for the fourth-year wideout, and that moved him up one more spot on the list of most receiving yards in an NFL player’s first four seasons.

Most Receiving Yards, First Four Seasons, NFL History

Player Team Seasons Yards
Randy Moss MIN 1998-2001 5,396
Torry Holt STL 1999-2002 5,088
Jerry Rice SF 1985-88 4,881
A.J. Green CIN 2011-14 4,874
Anquan Boldin AZ 2003-06 4,605
Larry Fitzgerald AZ 2004-07 4,544
DeAndre Hopkins HOU 2013-16 4,487
Odell Beckham NYG 2014-17 4,424
Mike Evans TB 2014-17 4,417
T.Y. Hilton IND 2012-15 4,413

Howard scored the Buccaneers’ first points in the first quarter when he turned a short outlet pass into a 30-yard run up the sideline. However, he suffered an ankle injury while completing the score – a result that was reviewed and upheld – and thus was unable to add to his game stats for the rest of the night. Still, in his brief bit of action Howard tied New York Giants tight end Evan Engram for the top spot among rookies in TD catches this year.

Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL Rookies, 2017

Player Team Pos. TDs
O.J. Howard TB TE 6
Evan Engram NYG TE 6
Alvin Kamara NO RB 5
Christian McCaffrey CAR RB 5
JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT WR 5

Howard’s sixth score gave him the Buccaneers’ rookie record for touchdowns by a tight end, surpassing the five that Tim Wright had in 2013. It’s the fourth-highest total by any Tampa Bay rookie, regardless of position, only one behind former wide receiver Michael Clayton (2004) for the third spot. Howard also bumped his yards-per-reception average up to 16.6 with that 30-yard play, which leads all NFL tight ends with at least 25 catches this season. He ranks eighth among all NFL players with at least 25 receptions in yards per catch.

Most Yards Per Reception, NFL, 2017 (minimum 25 receptions)

Player Team Pos. Rec. Yds. Avg.
Keelan Cole JAX WR 32 607 19.0
Marvin Jones DET WR 54 970 18.0
T.Y. Hilton IND WR 48 852 17.8
Marquise Goodwin SF WR 51 897 17.6
J.J. Nelson AZ WR 28 490 17.5
Tyrell Williams LAC WR 35 611 17.5
Brandin Cooks NE WR 58 984 17.0
O.J. Howard TB TE 26 432 16.6
JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT WR 43 699 16.3
Paul Richardson SEA WR 42 682 16.2

Howard’s touchdown catch was one of 22 first downs the Buccaneers recorded on Monday night, including 15 in the passing game. Tampa Bay now has 212 passing first downs in 2017, the most in the NFL. With two games to play, the Buccaneers have already recorded their second-highest season total for passing first downs. Jameis Winston’s Bucs set the team record at 220 last year.

Most Passing First Downs, NFL, 2017

  • 1. Tampa Bay: 212
  • 2. New England: 207
  • 3. Pittsburgh: 196
  • 4. L.A. Chargers: 191
  • 5. Detroit: 189

Most Passing First Downs, Single Season, Buccaneers History

  • 1. 2016: 220
  • 2. 2017: 212
  • 3. 1984: 209
  • 4. 2015: 201
  • 5. 2003: 190


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