TAMPA, Fla. — His receivers were dropping like flies. His defense was too. If the Bucs had lost any more players, they might have had to seriously consider plucking some retired players, who were out in full force for Jon Gruden’s ring of honor induction, from the stands.
In spite of it, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston — finally healthy himself after suffering a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder — reminded us what he is capable of, even in a 24-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football.
Winston completed 27 of 35 passes for 299 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions (no fumbles, either). His 130.5 passer rating wasn’t just a season high, it was the second-highest of his career, even as his receiving options and protection dwindled throughout the game.
“Talk about ‘next man up.’ I mean, good Lord, we had so many injuries,” Winston said. “So many unfortunate things have been happening, but you know, when I woke up this morning one of my good buddies had called me and read me Proverbs [18:12]. It basically was, ‘You must have humility before honor.’ … We were resilient, but we just fell short. It was unfortunate. … We just have to humble ourselves and keep digging and keep working.”
Tight end O.J. Howard had a 30-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter, but he was injured on the play when he was hit in the ankle by Brian Poole and did not return. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson left with an ankle injury. Right guard J.R. Sweezy also left with a lower leg injury, with the Bucs’ offensive line having already lost two starters — right tackle Demar Dotson and center Ali Marpet — for the season.

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