Bad Winston resurfaces again in Bucs’ defeat

by Gary Shelton on December 22, 2019

in general

Winston threw four interceptions in the loss./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 4 a.m.

After two weeks of playing at the top of his game, Jameis Winston fell back to the bottom Saturday afternoon.

Winston threw four interceptions -- again -- in a 23-20 loss to the Houston Texans. It ended a four-game winning streak for the Bucs and assured they will not finish with a winning season.

Was it his broken thumb? Was it the absence of Pro Bowl receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin? Or was it just the bad Winston reappearing after two weeks in which he threw for 914 yards and eight touchdowns? Either way, Winston had one of those afternoons where it's hard to trust him to throw downfield.

It's safe to say that there is no player in the NFL who has as many bad moments and as many good.

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Perriman had another big day for the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

“The first one, (Houston cornerback Bradley Roby) just squatted on the route," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians. "Justin (Watson) was running an out route and the guy just squatted on it. The last one, the same thing. You just can’t have them. You can’t have that many. Throwing it to the right guys – those guys [have] got to win, too. We’ve been winning one-on-ones. He’s used to guys winning one-on-one when he reads it properly, and we didn’t win.”

It was the third game of the season that Winston has thrown four interceptions or more and his fifth in which he has had three or more. Three of his picks came in the first half.

Suh bears down on Deshaun Watson./JEFFREY S. KING

Winston threw for 335 yards, his 11th game of the season in which he had more than 300. But this time, the Bucs couldn't overcome his missed throws. His first pass of the day was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Shortly afterward, he had another interception returned for a touchdown (but it was called back because of an illegal block).

Winston now has a career-high 27 interceptions on the season, and 100 turnovers for his career.

"(He is) the same guy that threw four touchdowns last week – he threw a couple touchdowns to tie it for us," Arians said. "The last (interception) was a poor decision, but we had our chances to win. It’s a team game, not  a one-man game. He didn’t lose the game, but he didn’t help us win the game.”

O.J. Howard couldn't bring down the catch./JEFFREY S. KING

Winston led the way, but plenty of Bucs left plays on the field. The Bucs also lost a fumble, had a field goal blocked and missed on a fourth-and-three when Cameron Brate dropped a pass.

“Just can’t do it," Winston said. "Got the snap-and-clear mentality, but can’t do it.

“The second one was just bad read. They were in ‘robber.’ He saw my eyes. He made a good play. But, just bad read. Got to get to the one-on-one with Breshad Perriman. The first one was a good play. Got to get the ball outside. The (third) one was just another good play. The last one was just a good play and he just read the route and jumped it and came down with it.” 

The Bucs scored twice late in the first half to tie the game at 17. However, they scored just three points in the second half.

Lavonte David presssures Watson./JEFFREY S. KING

Breshad Perriman had his third straight solid game as a receiver. He caught seven passes for 102 yards.

Ronald Jones rushed for 77 yards, but outside of his 49-yard run, he had 28 yards on 13 carries.

“We’re always going to go out there and be aggressive," Winston said. "I just can’t throw it to the other team. We’re going to take our chances, but when the ball ends up in the other team’s hands - every time I throw a ball if the defense touches [the ball] it’s a pick. That can’t happen. Defense is going to continue to play well.

“My primary focus is going into a football game and having a turnover free football game. That’s my primary focus. When I do that, I’m going to be a good quarterback – a great quarterback.” 

The Bucs defense played well, led by Jason Pierre-Paul's three sacks. Still, Pierre-Paul said the unit can play at a higher level.

Vita Vea fights off the hold by Houston./JEFFREY S. KING

“Not yet, not yet, we could be better," Pierre-Paul said. "Trust me it can be way better than what it is. You’re all saying it’s a great defense and we really appreciate that. But I know for sure that I know we can be better, and I can be better myself. With that said, that just goes to tell you we got one more game left to finish it off. We’ll see what happens then.”

Brate took the blame for his drop.

“Really good play call, I was able to find kind of a soft spot there," Brate said. "Unfortunately, (I) just didn’t come through for the team and it hurts. Obviously, that would’ve been a really big play for us. I take that one fully, that one’s on me. It’s frustrating and all that. I’ll feel bad about it for 24 hours, but we still got one more game next week. We’re just going to have to move on.”

The Bucs, 7-8, close out their season Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Houston's Addae made the clinching interception./JEFFREY S. KING

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