Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5 Players Who Stepped Up vs. Buffalo Bills
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5 Players Who Stepped Up Against Buffalo Bills
Despite having no chance at making the playoffs, Tampa Bay played with spirit, energy and passion while enjoying a rare blowout victory. Their ability to completely stifle the Bills in all three phases of the game was perhaps a sign of brighter things to come for both Bucs fans and members of the organization.
It also left many wondering why this type of performance has been missing all year long, as Tampa has rarely been able to play consistent this season despite having one of the more talented rosters in the NFL. How were they able to put it all on display against the Bills?
Well, a big reason why is the exceptional efforts by stars Lavonte David (two picks), Darrelle Revis (one sack, one forced fumble), Vincent Jackson (70 yards receiving, one touchdown) and Bobby Rainey (127 rushing yards, one touchdown). The veteran offensive line was a factor as well, as they allowed just one sack on the day despite Buffalo leading the league in that category.
However, all of those players are expected to do well each and every week, and the Bucs could not have dominated Buffalo without key contributions from lesser known players, many of them rookies with enormous potential. In addition, a good portion of those players also have an opportunity to get more playing time or even starting positions. Let's take a look at those unsung heroes:
5. William Gholston
Gholston, the rookie defensive end out of Michigan State, had a monster game with 1.5 sacks on the day. His pass rushing abilities are going to be needed for Tampa going forward, and if he keeps progressing, expect him to be a starter for the Bucs very soon.
4. Johnthan Banks
Another rookie who made his presence felt, Banks nabbed an interception off of E.J. Manual, and was key part of a Bucs secondary that absolutely shut Buffalo's receivers down.
3. Derek Landri
Landri got the most of his playing time this week, nabbing a sack. Keep an eye on the defensive tackle over the next couple of weeks, as it's likely that there will be an increased role for him in the defensive rotation.
2. Mason Foster
Despite being a good starting middle linebacker, Foster is not known by many. On Sunday, the Bills sure knew who he was as he had seven tackles and an interception. Foster has a great chance of making the leap from good to great, and it will be interesting to see if (and when) he will blossom into one of the best middle linebackers in the league.
1. Leonard Johnson
Johnson's name was not called often for all the right reasons. Despite frequently being picked on in coverage this season, he had a nice game against the Buffalo receivers. It's a step in the right direction, but it's tough to say whether the performance from the second-year player out of Rutgers was a fluke or a sign of things to come. The true test for Johnson will be against the New Orleans Saints in the final game of the season, where Drew Brees can spot a mismatch from a mile away.