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Buccaneers Rout Jaguars to Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

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Dec 25, 2023

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kept their playoff hopes alive with a decisive 30-12 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday. Led by veteran quarterback Baker Mayfield, the surging Bucs scored on five of their first seven drives to build a commanding 23-3 halftime lead.

Offense Clicks Under Mayfield’s Leadership

Since claiming Mayfield off waivers three weeks ago, the Bucs offense has taken off, averaging over 30 points per game. Against Jacksonville, Mayfield was highly efficient, completing 21-of-35 passes for 283 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Mayfield spread the ball around to his playmakers, with Mike Evans hauling in 6 catches for 91 yards. The duo connected for a big 30-yard completion early to set the tone. First round rookie Rachaad White continued his breakout campaign, rushing for 105 yards on 16 carries.

The Bucs offensive line also dominated, allowing no sacks and paving the way for 158 rushing yards. After recent struggles, the Bucs offense seems to have found its identity at the perfect time.

“Baker’s leadership has made a huge difference,” coach Todd Bowles said. “Guys are responding to him and playing with more confidence.”

Defense Stymies Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars Attack

On the other side, the Bucs defense flustered second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence all game long. Lawrence was under constant pressure, taking 4 sacks and throwing 1 interception. Rookie edge rusher Yaya Diaby had a standout performance with 2 sacks.

The Jags offense managed only 267 total yards and didn’t find the end zone until late in the fourth quarter with the game already decided. Star running back Travis Etienne Jr. was also bottled up, rushing for just 27 yards on six carries before leaving with an injury.

“Our defense played fast and physical today,” Bowles said. “We made the stops when we needed them.”

Bucs Keep Division Title Hopes Alive

At 7-8, Tampa Bay sits one game behind the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South standings with two weeks left. The teams meet next weekend in Atlanta, where the Bucs can clinch the division with a victory. After a six-game losing streak derailed their season, the Bucs have rallied to win four straight games.

NFC South Standings
Atlanta Falcons
8-7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7-8

“We still have a chance to accomplish our ultimate goal,” Bowles said about the division title. “The guys understand what’s at stake and are locked in.”

Meanwhile, the reeling Jaguars have now lost eight of their last nine games after starting the year 2-1. Owner Shad Khan recently stated that Lawrence’s job is not in jeopardy, but head coach Doug Pederson may be on the hot seat as Jacksonville limps to the finish.

What This Means Going Forward

The Bucs needed this win badly to keep their season alive and seem to be peaking at the right time. The offense has found its rhythm with Baker Mayfield at the helm, while the defense has regained its swagger from last year’s championship run.

With two games left, including a massive showdown for the NFC South crown next Sunday in Atlanta, the Bucs are positioning themselves for an improbable playoff berth. After today’s performance, the Bucs appear capable of making noise if they do qualify for the postseason.

The Jaguars, on the other hand, continue their late-season collapse after entering December in first place. While Lawrence will return in 2023, Pederson’s job security is suddenly uncertain after consecutive lackluster seasons. Jacksonville must address major holes on both sides of the ball this offseason if they hope to take the next step.

Overall, the Bucs dominated wire-to-wire in a game they had to have. The surging squad seems poised to ride their momentum into the playoffs, while the Jaguars have much soul searching to do after another campaign falls short of expectations.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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