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Jacquizz Rodgers propels Bucs with career night

If there was any doubt that Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers go as their run game goes, that should have been settled last night.

The Bucs edged the Carolina Panthers in an ugly 17-14 contest on Monday night behind a career-high performance from Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers carried the ball 30 carries for 101 yards and caught five passes for an additional 28 yards.

Tampa's only two wins of the season have come with their two highest rushing totals. A Week 1 victory over the Falcons featured 90 total rushing yards, including 62 (on 3.5 yards per carry) from bell cow Doug Martin.

"I think when you look back last year, we ran it like that," head coach Dirk Koetter said. "When we're making efficient runs, we keep running it. We did it last year with Doug (Martin). And I think we had a good run-game plan ... Jacquizz was making yards. When you're on the road and you're turning the ball over, we just felt like with them playing their backup quarterback, it was take the crowd [out] of it, slow the game down a little bit, and that was the best strategy tonight."

It was also no coincidence that Winston threw the fewest number of passes (30) that he's attempted in a game all season. The second-year signal-caller was averaging a league-high 44.25 attempts per game heading into Monday Night Football.

On one hand, this game was not played well enough by either team to truly deserve a win, and if Tampa Bay tried to replicate the same "formula" next weekend in San Francisco, they could easily lose to a bad 49ers team.

It's also obvious that a good running game helps a quarterback. This is true across the entire NFL. But Monday's game was a nice reset button for Winston, who posted a 40.1 passer rating the week before in a loss to the Denver Broncos. Monday night's passing totals would have been higher had it not been for a few untimely drops, which also seems to be coming into play for Winston more than he'd care for.

We're not suggesting Koetter take the ball out of Winston's hands if the Bucs want to succeed, but building up to a point where he can make 18 good throws out of 30 is a nice start.

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