On Sunday, the Buccaneers and Dolphins played one of those football games that gets only an obligatory mention at the end of highlight shows. In that spirit, this week's Turning Point will focus mostly on the final three minutes of Tampa Bay's 30-20 win.
What happened: In the first half, smokin' Jay Cutler didn't really care who was catching his passes. Sometimes, it was Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry. Other times, it was Bucs defenders. Thanks in part to three Cutler interceptions, Tampa Bay scored 20 points in the first half. It had scored 19 in the first halves of its previous six games combined....
Here's a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 30-20 win over the Dolphins on Sunday:
Bucs takeaways, four of which occurred in the first half. Tampa Bay last recorded four takeaways in the first half against Chicago in Week 2.
Turnovers quarterback Jay Cutler has committed against the Bucs in the past six quarters he has played against them (three interceptions Sunday, two interceptions and a lost fumble last season). He did not play in the second half because he was being evaluated for a concussion....
What follows below is a ranking of all 32 NFL teams. To build this list, we consulted five objective measures of team strength: Pro Football Reference's Simple Rating System, Football Outsiders' Defense-adjusted Value Over Average ratings, ESPN's Football Power Index, FiveThirtyEight's Elo ratings and statistician Jeff Sagarin's NFL ratings. We then used a composite of those measures as a guidepost....
The Buccaneers did something Sunday they hadn't done in a while: They scored first and never allowed the Jets to take the lead.
How long has it been since they've done that? How about the opener against the Bears? In every game between, they either never had a lead or had one and lost it.
Far too often this season, they've been playing from behind. In fact, when the offense has started a drive, Tampa Bay's average lead has been -4.79 points, the sixth-worst margin in the NFL....
TAMPA — Ryan Fitzpatrick scrambled to his right. About 25 yards down the field, a receiver crossed over the middle. Not a single Jets jersey was in sight.
His previous 34 passes were a mix of good and bad. But the 35th? It was one of the more meaningful passes you've never seen.
Not because of the throw. But because of the receiver.
It wasn't DeSean Jackson. And it wasn't Chris Godwin, Adam Humphries or Cameron Brate. It wasn't even a professional football player....
Ryan Fitzpatrick's first starts with his new teams haven't been impressive. He has never passed for more than 250 yards and has thrown multiple touchdowns only once. In fact, he has thrown more interceptions (eight) than touchdowns (seven). All that matters, though, is the W, and Fitzpatrick has been victorious in four of his seven debuts.
Season Team Opponent Result Passing stats
2005 STL WAS L 24-9 21-of-36, 163 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT...
Here's a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 15-10 win over the Jets on Sunday:
Teams Ryan Fitzpatrick has started for and won a game with. The other quarterbacks to accomplish that feat: Steve Beuerlein, Chris Chandler, Gus Frerotte, Josh McCown, Earl Morrall and Vinny Testaverde....
When the Buccaneers host the Jets on Sunday, it won't be the first time Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown have gone head-to-head. In fact, this will be the third straight season they've played against each other. Fitzpatrick's Jets got the better of McCown's Browns both times.
Okay, so it's not Brady vs. Manning. It's more like beige vs. khaki. Really.
See whether you can tell the difference....
It happens every year.
We talk about how strange the NFL season has been.
Then we get to November.
And it starts to feel ... normal.
Teams like the Patriots and Steelers at the top. Teams like the Browns and Dolphins at the bottom.
Sure, there are a couple of new teams in the mix this season, but for the most part, the standings look rather familiar.
Now that we've just passed the halfway point, it's time to assess the NFL landscape and separate the contenders from the pretenders....
Jameis Winston wanted to know where the line was.
"As far as doing too much, I want to have a good understanding of how much is doing too much," he told Dirk Koetter.
Koetter responded: "We have by far the best team since you've been playing in the NFL, and you are a guy that's able to win a game. But also we don't need you to lose a game for us."
Such scenes from HBO's Hard Knocks have aged quickly. They feel like old home videos now. Familiar and foreign all at the same time....
Here's a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 30-10 loss to the Saints on Sunday:
Drew Brees career completions.
Bucs completions since 1998.
Bucs players who have completed a pass since 1998.
Coaches and players preach it.
We've got to get off the field on third down.
The Bucs? They've been spending so much time on the field they could tell you all you ever wanted to know about the grass at Raymond James Stadium.
Tifway 419 Bermuda. Dense. Tough. Weed-resistant.
Last season, the defense allowed opponents to convert only one out of every three third downs. This season, it's allowing opponents to convert half of them. What has changed in a year?...
Everyone bought the hype.
Ten wins. Playoffs. A division title.
Maybe even something more.
You remember the buzz. The NFC South had produced Super Bowl teams in consecutive seasons. This season, it would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' turn.
They were a team on the rise....
TAMPA — The Bucs are a mess.
Where to start?
How about the beginning?
On Tampa Bay's first play Sunday, Doug Martin barely carried the ball beyond the line of scrimmage.
On the second, Jameis Winston's pass to DeSean Jackson along the right sideline fell incomplete.
On the third, Winston targeted Jackson again, this time over the middle. The pass was high, but you wonder whether Jackson, sensing that he was about to get popped by a Panthers defender, didn't fully extend for the ball....
TAMPA — The best and worst from the Bucs' 17-3 loss to Carolina on Sunday:
• How about that Tampa Bay defense? A week after allowing the Bills to score 30 points, the Bucs held the Panthers to 17. They also held them to about 200 fewer yards. The biggest difference? Fewer explosive plays....