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Week 16 Game Recap: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20, Dallas Cowboys 27


What you need to know

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ryan Fitzpatrick was a curious scratch for week 16, with Ryan Griffin serving as Jameis Winston's backup. Desean Jackson returned from a hand injury, but was hobbled by a new foot/Achilles injury midway through the game. His availability for week 17 is in question. Winston lost two fumbles, with one being returned for a touchdown and the other recovered inside Tampa Bay's 10 yard line.

The Bucs made it a one score game with a late Mike Evans touchdown, but Dallas recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt with just over 2 minutes in the game. Kicker Santos was 2/3 on FG attempts, missing a 52 yard attempt in the 3rd.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys logged the much-needed home win over Tampa Bay, but their offensive output was muted as Tampa Bay controlled the ball with longer drives but turnovers and empty drives. Dallas also scored a defensive touchdown to limit the Cowboys offense to 50 combined passes and carries. Ezekiel Elliott limped off on one occasion but reentered the game shortly after and logged yet another game with more than 20 touches. In what projected as a bounce-back opportunity for Amari Cooper resulted in a lackluster 4-20-0 stat line as two highlight plays from Michael Gallup were the Dallas passing game notable plays this week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Jameis Winston, 80 offensive snaps, Pass: 34 - 48 - 336 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 14 - 0
Winston was backed up for the first time by Ryan Griffin, with Ryan Fitzpatrick a curious healthy scratch for week 16. Winston threw one touchdown whilst he committed a couple of back-breaking turnovers as well as contributing to a pile of offensive penalties. He looked sharp on the opening drive, hitting Humphries on two consecutive passes for a first down and then finding Evans down the left sideline with a beautiful over the shoulder throw that picked up 38 yards and set the Bucs up inside the Dallas red zone. The offense eventually settled for a field goal. Winston lost a fumble that was returned 69 yards for a touchdown at the end of the 1st quarter. He initially did a great job of avoiding pressure on the play by stepping up in the pocket, but as he rolled out to the right a defender punched the ball out from behind. Despite being knocked down on the play, Winston got up and nearly ran Jaylon Smith down on the fumble return touchdown. Winston led a scoring drive at the end of the 1st half, connecting with Humphries multiple times and nearly finding Evans in the back of the end zone. Winston scrambled down to the 2 yard line with less than a minute in the half and handed the ball off to Rodgers for a short touchdown on the next play. Winston fumbled again while attempting to hand the ball off to Bobo Wilson on a WR speed sweep in the 3rd quarter. Winston again showed good effort making the tackle, but Dallas recovered the ball inside Tampa Bay's 10 yard line. Winston's only touchdown was a late connection with Mike Evans. Winston scrambled right to extend the play while Evans worked his way open in the back of the end zone for a 7 yard touchdown, making it a one score game with just over two minutes left. Unfortunately, Dallas was able to recover the ensuing onside kick attempt.

Winston drew his fair share of penalties in week 16, including a blocking in the back penalty in the 2nd quarter and several delay of game penalties at the end of the 1st and 2nd half. Winston and the offense were called for delay of game TWICE on 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter. After being called for delay game on 4th and 1 from the Dallas 2, Winston made a heroic effort to scramble for the score on 4th and 6. Unfortunately, he was tackled about a foot short of the line of scrimmage, giving Dallas the ball back inside their own 5 yard line. Winston should have been intercepted on the next drive as he loaded up an underthrown deep ball for Jackson that bounced right off a receiver's hands.

RB Peyton Barber, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 43 - 0, Rec: 3 - 13 - 0 (3 targets)
Barber posted one of his signature underwhelming stat lines, averaging 2.5 yards on 17 carries. He broke an impressive run of 33 yards right up the middle of the defense in the 3rd quarter, but backup TE Auclair was called for holding on the play. Jacquizz Rodgers vultured a short touchdown run with the 2 minute offense at the end of the first half.

Barber caught a short checkdown for 6 yards in the 1st quarter. Barber's second catch was screen pass that was well defended at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. Barber caught one more checkdown early in the 4th quarter and got blasted by Leighton Vander Esch near the line of scrimmage.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 2 - 1, Rec: 7 - 55 - 0 (7 targets)
Rodgers had a productive fantasy day with limited touches. He only carried the ball twice behind Peyton Barber, but he punched in a 2 yard touchdown with one of them and also hauled in all seven targets in the passing game. Rodgers' entered the game during the Bucs' second offensive drive of the first quarter, hauling in his first target for a short gain on a checkdown pass. Rodgers caught another checkdown pass in the 2nd that picked up good yardage on 3rd and 18, but not quite enough for the first down. Rodgers notched the touchdown at the end of the 1st half as the Bucs were running the 2 minute offense. Winston scrambled down to the two yard line with less than a minute in the 2nd quarter, and Rodgers plowed up the middle for the score on the next play. Rodgers converted 4th and 2 with another checkdown pass from Winston in the 3rd quarter. Rodgers nearly scored a second touchdown in the 4th quarter, when he caught a short pass in the Dallas red zone and barreled down to the two yard line. Rodgers piled up garbage time stats with three consecutive checkdown passes underneath Dallas' prevent coverage as the Bucs trailed by 14 with less than 3 minutes in the game.

WR Adam Humphries, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 79 - 0 (12 targets)
Humphries led the team with 12 targets, hauling in 10 total for 79 yards. He went to work on the first snap of the game, hauling in a curl route underneath zone coverage. Humphries lined up in the left slot on the next play and caught a quick pass behind the line of scrimmage, darting forward for an 8 yard gain and a first down. Humphries lined up in the left slot and shook his defender after catching a 2nd quarter curl route, running up the sideline for a nice gain after the catch. Winston found him again on a slant route near the end of the 1st half. Humphries got blasted while hauling in a crossing route on the next play and looked as if his day could be done at the half, but he returned in the 3rd quarter. Winston found him for another nice catch and run up the right sideline late in the 3rd. Humphries picked up yet another 1st down with a catch and run on a crossing route in the 4th quarter.

Humphries has often been said to have more "real life" football value than fantasy football value, but he has quietly developed into a dependable PPR play in the second half of the season, showing a nice rapport with Winston. Desean Jackson could miss next week with a new Achilles injury, meaning more targets for Humphries, Evans, and Godwin.

WR Mike Evans, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 90 - 1 (10 targets)
Evans had a challenging matchup with Byron Jones following him around for a significant portion of the matchup. Evans kickstarted his day with a 38 yard reception down the left sideline. He lined up wide left with two receivers on the opposite side of the formation, and beat his defender to haul in an over the shoulder throw from Winston before being pushed out of bounds. Evans had to come back for a low throw on a curl route later in the 1st, but secured the pass before being touched down by contact. Evans missed some snaps at the end of the 1st quarter for an "illness" but was not gone long. Evans made a strong catch on a contested curl route at the end of the 1st half. Winston nearly found him in the end zone on the next play, but he played the ball a bit too high. Evans hauled in a deep post route for a solid gain on the Bucs' first offensive play of the 2nd half. Evans had a step on his defender on a fly route late in the 3rd, but Winston missed the throw. Evans converted 3rd and long early in the 4th quarter with a deep comeback route. Evans scored a short touchdown at the end of the 4th quarter, working his way open in the back of the end zone while Winston scrambled to extend the play.

WR Chris Godwin, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (6 targets)
Godwin saw his opportunities dwindle as Desean Jackson returned from injury and Evans and Humphries drew 10 and 12 targets, respectively. Godwin caught a crossing route in the 1st quarter for first down yardage. He picked up 8 yards with a diving catch on the sideline later in the same drive. Godwin caught a deep curl route and broke a tackle for a nice run up the left sideline early in the 3rd quarter. Jackson could miss next week with a new foot injury.

WR DeSean Jackson, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 24 - 0 (4 targets)
Jackson returned after missing several weeks with a wrist/hand injury. He carried the ball for a short gain on a jet sweep in the 1st quarter. Winston looked for Jackson with a deep pass down the left sideline in the 2nd quarter, but Jackson's defender had him bracketed. Jackson had another deep crossing route broken up at the end of the quarter. Jackson and Winston finally connected up the seam for a 24 yard gain on the next play, but Jackson hobbled off holding his ankle after the catch. Jackson was able to return to the game, but was limited for the rest of the contest. He has not practiced yet this week.

WR Bobo Wilson
Wilson returned kicks and worked into the receiver rotation as Jackson, Humphries, and Evans all had to miss snaps for various ailments and injuries throughout the contest. Wilson lined up in the right slot and caught a WR bubble screen that was snuffed out behind the line of scrimmage in the 2nd quarter. He had a step on his defender on a corner route on the next play, but Winston overthrew him. Wilson lined up in the left slot and got open for a big gain up the seam at the end of the 4th. The 25 yard reception is the longest of his short career. Winston and Wilson fumbled a handoff on a jet sweep in the 3rd quarter.

TE Cameron Brate, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (3 targets)
Brate was not a factor in the passing game. He finally got on the board with a short gain on a crossing route that was hotly contested by linebacker Vander Esch in the 4th quarter. Winston found him for a short checkdown pass late in the 4th quarter. Brate did not get any looks in the end zone this week.


Dallas Cowboys

QB Dak Prescott, 52 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 25 - 161 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 2 - 1
While Prescott’s stat line looks like his efficient ball-controlling efforts of the past, he missed most of his best opportunities for a positive impact through the air. Prescott should have had an interception on an early-game throw, airmailed Michael Gallup on a wide open third down, and also missed Blake Jarwin on a wide open third down later in the game on the fringe of field goal range. Prescott did get back to being a running threat in the red zone, logging a keeper touchdown from short range, his first rushing score in a month. Prescott’s highlight throw was a deep sideline connection into a small window to Michael Gallup for more than 30 yards, a significant chuck of his otherwise muted passing performance.

RB Ezekiel Elliott, 49 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 85 - 0, Rec: 5 - 24 - 0 (6 targets)
Elliott logged his eighth straight game of at least 20 touches as the Dallas offensive centerpiece. Elliott had an up-and-down game, however, with a fumble and drop among his low-light moments. Fortunately, Dallas recovered his fumble. Elliott’s best runs were a combination of getting skinny through small interior holes, finding cutback lanes for 10 or more yards, and getting to the corner on slower developing plays including a run to ice the game in the closing minutes of the win. Elliott also had a seven-yard rush called back by penalty and his best touchdown opportunity was nearly scoring on a red zone reception to the perimeter. Elliott impressively surpassed 2,000 total yards on the season and his 77 catches more than double his previous career high.

WR Cole Beasley, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 50 - 0 (5 targets)
Beasley had his second straight quality game for Dallas. Four of Beasley’s five receptions came on a single drive in the second half, including a highlight slant catch at full extension. Beasley also converted two third downs in the game and added yards-after-catch on another reception. Beasley’s touchdown-less streak continues as the slot maven has not scored since Week 6, his only scores of the season.

WR Amari Cooper, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 20 - 0 (5 targets)
Cooper had his second down game in a row after his Week 14 210-yard explosion. Tampa Bay projected as a rebound game, but Cooper had a quizzical lack of involvement for much of the game. Cooper produced half of his 20 yards on an after-the-catch opportunity and was held in check on two other short targets. One under-the-radar impact of Cooper’s arrival in Dallas has been opening opportunities for Michael Gallup on the other side with better matchups. Gallup exceled with two quality plays in the otherwise tepid passing game performance by Dallas against the Buccaneers.

WR Michael Gallup, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 53 - 1 (4 targets)
While Gallup was fourth on the team in targets against Tampa Bay, he led Dallas in receiving yards and made the two highlight receiving plays of the game for the Cowboys. Gallup hauled in Dak Prescott’s best throw of the game, a long connection into a small window down the sideline. Gallup also converted a goal line fade target for his first touchdown since Week 7 and only the second score of his rookie season.