TAMPA, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – With starting quarterback Jameis Winston and defensive end William Gholston out with injuries and 2-6 on the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into Sunday’s game with the dire need for a victory against the New York Jets, who are currently 4-5 and equally needed a win. Ryan Fitzpatrick started in Winston’s place and Ryan Russell played for Gholston. Jets running back Matt Forte was also out with tight end Eric Tomlinson in his place.
Both the Buccaneers’ and the Jets’ defenses were stingy in the first half. Kicker Patrick Murray got the Buccaneers on the board with a 29-yard field goal after a 77-yard, 17-play scoring drive, bringing the score to 3-0.
An interesting exchange came late in the second quarter: Tampa’s Brent Grimes intercepted a touchdown pass with the Jets were in the red zone, and on the very next play, the Jets intercepted the ball in return. Neither team was able to capitalize on their respective interceptions with a score. One another Jets scoring series, Buccaneers safety Chris Conte broke up a key touchdown pass, keeping New York off the board.
With three seconds left in the half, New York leveled the score with 47-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro on a 51-yard, 16-play scoring drive.
At the half, the Jets defense had forced Fitzpatrick to only 6 for 12 on completed passes and 43% on third down conversions.
In the third quarter, both teams’ defenses remained steadfast, forcing the Buccaneers into another field goal drive to get more points up. Patrick Murray made it happen at 10:50 with a 49-yard field goal, making the score 6-3.
After a highly contested third quarter that included two challenged helmet plays, Murray closed it out with a third field goal (37 yards) for the Buccaneers, making the score 9-3.
By the fourth quarter Vernon Hargreaves was out with a hamstring injury. However, the Buccaneers offense finally appeared to awaken, and with 6:05 left in the game, they scored their first touchdown with Fitzpatrick’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Charles Sims III, making the score 15-3.
The 15-3 score was almost a guaranteed final score until the last minute. Literally. With less than 30 seconds left, the New York Jets eeked out a touchdown and extra point, making the final score 15-10 for Tampa Bay.
The Buccaneers next play in-state rival the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium next Sunday at 1pm. The New York Jets will next host the Carolina Panthers Sunday November 26 at 1pm.
Mellissa Thomas is Florida National News Editor. | firstname.lastname@example.org