TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally got the game they wanted — 10 contests into the season — in Sunday's 27-7 victory over the Washington Redskins.
The defense came up with six sacks and three takeaways and the offense found a major weapon in rookie Mike Evans.
"Once all of us are clicking on all cylinders, you see the potential, you see the things that we're capable of doing," said defensive end Jacquies Smith, who had two of the sacks. "It's just a matter of consistently doing it."
Their most complete game of the season left the Bucs with a modest 2-8 record, but even that doesn't look hopeless in the NFC South.
"Normally this time of year, when you're talking about that second win, you're not throwing a lot of parties," said coach Lovie Smith. "But for us, to be two wins out of first place in the win column, that is big. Hopefully we can build on this and see where we go from there."
The next place they will go is Chicago, where Smith coached from 2004-2012 and where quarterback Josh McCown started five games for the Bears last season before signing with the Bucs.
McCown posted his first win as the Bucs' starter Sunday, hooking up with Evans seven times for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Evans became the first NFL rookie since Anquan Boldin in 2003 to go for at least two touchdowns and 200 yards in a game, and his 209 receiving yards were just seven short of the franchise record. His big day was impressive enough for Evans to draw personal congratulations from his boyhood idol, Randy Moss.
"It's great being mentioned with one of my favorite receivers of all-time," said Evans. "His name, Moss, is a verb . . . You "Moss" somebody after you catch it; I always thought that was cool."
Evans said he was able to "Moss" the Redskins for touchdown passes of 36 and 56 yards because of their single coverage.
"We saw that early on so we exploited it," he said. "If they double anybody on our team, that's going to leave opportunities for the next guy, so I hope they double me or (Vincent Jackson) or somebody so we'll make plays."
McCown's two TD passes to Evans accounted for the only scoring of the second half, but the Buc defense was dominant throughout. Linebacker Danny Lansanah intercepted a pass on the first play of the game, and Johnthan Banks ran another early interception back for a touchdown.
In their first nine games, the Bucs had only 12 takeaways.
"The emphasis on takeaways has been there, but this week we really attacked. We played fast and furious up front and that causes turnovers," said defensive tackle Akeem Spence.
Eleven of the Bucs' 20 sacks have come in their two victories against Pittsburgh and Washington.
"It's funny how that works when you are able to get pressure," Smith said, "and it does set the tempo for just about everything."
NOTES: The departure of the Bucs' flight out of Washington was held up about 10 minutes by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Smith said he considered the investigation routine. "No distraction at all, at any level," he said. "I slept through a lot of it, like the rest of the team. It's not an issue with us. I'm sure they had their reasons for carrying out those searches throughout the league."