TB-SD grades: Bucs' offseason addition Robert Ayers impresses
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28, San Diego Chargers 21
Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Buccaneers’ Week 13 victory over the Chargers.
Quarterback grade: Jameis Winston, 76.4
Jameis Winston registers another comeback win
With receivers dropping like flies, Winston could have been forgiven for thinking another comeback victory was beyond the Bucs in San Diego. Winston, however, is rarely short of will, leading Tampa Bay’s offense down the field for the go-ahead score. Overall, he was more efficient than explosive, showing the patience he hasn’t always been known for. In the end, he finished with 20 completions on 28 targeted passes for 280 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. A slow start quickly picked up, and Winston did not look back.
Top offensive grades:
TE Cameron Brate, 86.5
OG Ali Marpet, 80.5
WR Freddie Martino, 78.5
QB Jameis Winston, 76.4
OT Demar Dotson, 76.1
Bit-part players prove decisive
After wide receivers Adam Humphries and Cecil Shorts went down with injury, the cupboard appeared almost entirely bare at the position. Mike Evans still provided a marquee option, but he only managed to total three catches for 38 yards. Instead, it was Freddie Martino who seized the opportunity, catching four passes for 56 yards from just 15 routes run. He was predominantly helped by Cameron Brate, who had perhaps his best game with the Bucs. Brate managed a season-high in yardage (86), catching six passes to go with Winston’s solo touchdown. Competition is key in the NFL, and the Bucs have plenty.
Top defensive grades:
DE Robert Ayers, 85.8
DT Akeem Spence, 79.3
S Keith Tandy, 79.3
CB Vernon Hargreaves, 79.1
LB Kwon Alexander, 73.9
Ayers living up to pay day
The Buccaneers’ struggles defensively earlier in the year can be attributed in large part to their inability to affect opposing quarterbacks. It was a problem they had addressed in the offseason with the signing of Robert Ayers, but an injury had sidelined him for much of the year. Now he’s back and looks as healthy as ever. After 10 pressures a week ago, Ayers racked up seven more Sunday, routinely beating up on the Chargers’ tackles. Amazingly, those seven pressures came on only 24 pass-rushes.
Quarterback grade: Philip Rivers, 80.0
Three throws define game
For Rivers, this performance would have been remembered in an entirely different light if three throws ended up with different results that were outside of his control. The first one was a slant route that was broken up at the catch point by Vernon Hargreaves III, but then bounced right into the waiting arms of Lavonte David for a pick-six. The second was a deep corner route that slipped right through the hands of Travis Benjamin that could have been a touchdown. The last was a poor underthrow that S Keith Tandy did a fabulous job of still hauling in, despite WR Tyrell Williams being draped all over him. If the slant falls harmlessly, Benjamin catches the corner route, and Williams breaks up the under throw, Rivers and the Chargers likely win this game.
Top offensive grades:
RB Melvin Gordon, 83.7
FB Derek Watt, 78.8
C Matt Slauson, 78.1
RT Joe Barksdale, 74.0
LT King Dunlap, 73.8
Gordon continues to overcome O-Line
While the Chargers’ offensive line has been a considerable improvement from the 2015 version, it’s still nowhere near a solid unit. Gordon did his best to create yards, even when none were to be had Sunday. He broke five tackles on 17 attempts and averaged 3.9 yards after contact per attempt. No play personifies his day better than the 3rd-and-1 on their final drive where he had to break a tackle from Kwon Alexander a yard behind the line of scrimmage just to convert.
Top defensive grades:
CB Casey Hayward, 84.6
DE Corey Liuget, 81.7
DE Darius Philon, 77.8
SS Jahleel Addae, 77.6
OLB Melvin Ingram, 76.2
First-round rushers fail to make impact
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram could emerge as a dominant bookend pass-rushing pairing. On Sunday, though, they made a surprisingly minimal contribution. Ingram was unblockable early on, but faded badly. Ultimately, he finished the game with only one hit and three hurries from 27 rushes. Opposite him, Joey Bosa had his quietest game of his young career. He made only one stop, and generated only three combined QB pressures, in 49 total snaps. Bosa’s two knockdowns (sack and hit) both came unblocked, underlining his inconsistency. This was a down day for the pair, but don’t expect their poor form to persist.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers
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