Starters Look Good As Bucs Topple Jaguars 12-8

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played their second preseason game Thursday night in Jacksonville against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After giving up a first down to Blake Bortles and the Jags offense, the Bucs forced a punt, giving Jameis Winston and the offense the ball at their own 17-yard-line.

Winston and the offense looked sharp on a drive that saw Doug Martin carry the ball three times and catch a couple of Winston passes before capping off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown carry. Jameis was sharp on the drive, completing five of six passes for 54 yards.

After forcing a 3-and-out on the Jaguars next drive, the Bucs offense came back on the field and again made it look easy, quickly getting into the Jags red zone. The drive stalled when Adam Humphries came up just short on a crossing route, and the Bucs were forced to kick a field goal on the first play of the second quarter. Nick Folk hit the 35-yard field goal and the Bucs had a 9-0 lead as the second quarter began. The Bucs outgained the Jaguars 136-yards to just 21-yards in the first quarter of the game.

After the Bucs forced another 3-and-out, Winston and the offense was back on the field trying to build off of a first quarter where they looked outstanding. Tampa Bay looked like they might be headed for a 3-and-out of their own, but Winston threaded the needle to Desean Jackson for a first down. The next play Winston threw another perfect pass to Mike Evans, but the fourth-year receiver dropped what would have been a second Buccaneers touchdown. The Bucs once again drove the ball deep into Jags territory before Winston threw what should have been a terrible interception while being brought to the ground. Jameis and the Bucs got bailed out by an awful down by contact call which was not reviewable, so Folk came in to push the score to 12-0 on another short field goal.

The Jags finally got their opportunity to score late in the half when rookie receiver Keelan Cole returned a Brian Anger punt to the Bucs 23-yard-line. A play later, Chad Henne who entered the game at quarterback for Jacksonville hit Cole in the end zone wide open, but the rookie wide out dropped it. A couple plays later it was Chris Conte making a nice play on Allen Robinson forcing him to drop another Henne pass in the end zone and the Jags were forced to kick a 40-yard field goal which Jason Myers missed, keeping the score at 12-0 and giving the Bucs an opportunity to work on their two-minute offense with 1:52 remaining as the offense got back onto the field.

The two-minute drill started really well for the Buccaneers who quickly got the ball into Jags territory, but a fumble and a couple of penalties set the drive back and the half ended with Winston tossing up a Hail Mary. The half ended 12-0 with the Bucs dominating play throughout the first half. While the Bucs would certainly have liked to finish with more touchdowns, the offense is showing signs of what it can be once Koetter actually starts game planning for opponents.

The Jaguars and Bucs alternated uninspiring drives to start the second half, but Bucs running back Peyton Barber looked good carrying the football, and linebackers Kendell Beckwith and Adarius Glanton played well defensively. After three quarters, the score remained 12-0 as it was at the half.

The Jaguars offense finally got something going in the fourth quarter, and finally got onto the scoreboard when second-year quarterback Brandon Allen found rookie fullback Marquez Williams for a touchdown pass. In what could only be called comical fashion, Myers came out and blew the extra point for the Jags, leaving the game at 12-6 with just under eight minutes to play.

Jags quarterback Brandon Allen had a heck of a fourth quarter and got the Jaguars inside the Bucs five and almost pulled off a comeback victory (not that it would have mattered) but fell just short throwing his final pass of a late drive out-of-bounds on 4th-and-1 inside the Bucs five. Allen finished 8-11 with 112 yards and a touchdown in making the game interesting late.

The Bucs ran the ball three consecutive times inside their 10 to give the Jaguars one last shot just over 30 seconds after Anger intentionally ran out of the back of the end zone for a safety.  

Allen and the Jags made it interesting again on the final drive as he once again found Dede Westbrook for a big play to the Bucs 35-yard line. Westbrook had a very good second half, pulling in over 100 yards receiving on Buccaneers back up defenders. Moments later, Allen took one last shot at the end zone, and the game ended with a very strange 12-8 final score. 

The game was fairly uneventful after the Buccaneers starters dominated play through most of the first half. The Bucs get back into action again next Saturday night when they have their home preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns when the starters should go for three quarters, as the third preseason game is often known as the "dress rehearsal." The Bucs still have plenty of rehearsing to do on both sides of the football, but if the first two games are any indicator, the Bucs offense is going to create a lot of problems for their opponents. 

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