Buccaneers stun Seahawks, climb in NFC South race

The Buccaneers (6-5) kept their playoff hopes afloat with a rock-solid defensive effort on Sunday against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks (7-3-1). Here's what we learned from Tampa Bay's surprising 14-5 win over Seattle:

  1. Largely ignored by the pigskin illuminati, Tampa Bay is alive and well in the NFC playoff picture after cooling off the white-hot Seahawks. Thank a suddenly frisky Bucs defense that badgered quarterback Russell Wilson with four sacks, three tackles for loss and six quarterback hits over Seattle's first 20 plays from scrimmage. Behind a line starting three rookies for the first time in team history, Wilson and the Seahawks accounted for just one yard passing in the first half and didn't convert a third down until their final drive of the game. Coming into Sunday with just one giveaway over their last five outings, Seattle turned the ball over three times and never found a way to get runner Thomas Rawls involved. Wilson ran for a season-high 80 yards, but his offense lacked balance and big-play ability behind a line that allowed an outrageous six sacks on the day.
  1. Mike Evans would be hailed as a full-fledged star if he played in New York. The Bucs wideout fried Seattle's Legion of Boom for a pair of early touchdowns, including one that came head-to-head against All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. Evans notched 104 yards off eight grabs to become just the fourth receiver in NFL history to top 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons (joining Randy Moss, A.J. Green and John Jefferson). Evans did so without Seahawks safety Earl Thomas on the field, but that doesn't take away from a pass-catcher with three 100-yard outings over his past four starts.
  1. Tampa's resurgence traces back to an improved defense and the promising leadership and play of Jameis Winston. The Bucs passer played a sterling first half before Tampa went scoreless over their final 10 possessions to keep Seattle in the mix. Winston's worst decision came on a fourth-quarter interception at the goal line, but he also showed courage whipping the ball into tight windows to complete 21 of 28 throws for 220 yards, two scores and the pick. With 14 touchdowns and three interceptions over his past seven games, Winston looms as one of football's brightest young stars.
  1. Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo continued his wayward rookie season with a missed 48-yard field goal near the end of the first half. That botched attempt along with a Tampa safety -- the result of a holding call in the end zone -- prevented an easier win for the drama-dipped Bucs.
  1. The Seahawks remain a shoo-in to win the NFC West, but will their makeshift O-line serve as a fatal flaw? They have plenty of work to do up front before taking on the Panthers next week. The Bucs, meanwhile, sit one game out of first in the NFC South with upcoming tilts against the Chargers, Saints, Cowboys, Saints and Panthers.
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