Tampa Bay Sports Day

BUCS: Tampa Bay Defense Stymies Seahawks

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got two first-quarter touchdown catches from Mike Evans, and their defense did the rest, stifling the Seattle Seahawks in a 14-5 upset win Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

Tampa Bay (6-5) forced a fumble from Jimmy Graham inside the Bucs’ 25, with Lavonte David returning the ball to Seattle’s 25 to burn off key minutes late in the game.

The Seahawks (7-3-1) missed on their first 10 third downs, unable to move the ball with any consistency against the Tampa Bay defense. Russell Wilson, who entered the game with two interceptions all season, was picked off twice, the latter by safety Bradley McDougald to seal the win in the final two minutes. Wilson finished 17 of 33 for 151 yards and was sacked six times.

The Bucs remain in the thick of the NFC wild-card chase as they go to San Diego next week.

Tampa Bay jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a pair of touchdown passes from Jameis Winston to Mike Evans. The Bucs marched 78 yards on 14 plays on the opening drive of the game, capped by Winston finding Evans for a 3-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Tampa Bay got 28 yards on six carries from Doug Martin as it worked to establish the run game.

“Mike Evans is elite. He’s a superstar,” said Winston, who has thrown 10 touchdown passes to Evans this season, tying him for the NFL lead. “It’s a testament to hard work paying off. He worked very hard in the offseason and it’s paying off. You can see how great he really is.”

Winston completed a 27-yard pass to Cameron Brate to set up a 23-yard touchdown to Evans — beating Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman — for a 14-0 lead with 2:53 left in the opening quarter. Evans would finish with 104 yards on eight catches, moving back into a tie for the NFL lead with 10 touchdown receptions.

Winston completed 21 of 28 passes for 220 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Seattle cut into the lead in the second quarter, first getting a safety as Bucs tight end Luke

Stocker was flagged for holding in the end zone. Steven Hauschka added a 43-yard field goal to cut the Bucs’ lead to 14-5 in the second quarter.

“We started off real slow. Their offense started fast,” Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said. “Throughout the whole game, we had a couple of moments where we looked good, where we looked normal, but overall we just have to play better.”

The Tampa Bay defense got a huge takeaway in the final minute of the first half as cornerback Alterraun Verner, who played just two days after his father Robert died, intercepted Wilson’s pass at the 15-yard line.

“I told the team ‘When we break it down on family, is it something we say, or do we really mean it?'” said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who had 1.5 sacks. “I said ‘When you have a family member down, what are you supposed to do? Everybody said ‘Pick them up.’ I told them: Don’t be selfish today. Play for the man next to you. You have a brother hurting. Play for him.”

Seattle managed 133 yards of total offense entering the fourth quarter — it had to convert a fourth-and-14 from its 16-yard line to keep a late drive alive in the final three minutes.

“They put us behind the eight ball,” Seahawks tackle Bradley Sowell said. “I don’t know if we were pressing or what we were doing, but it just didn’t feel the same.”

GAME NOTES: Bucs WR Mike Evans went over 1,000 yards for the season, just the second Bucs player ever to do so in the first 11 games of the season, following Joey Galloway. … The Bucs played without nickel DB Jude Adjei-Barimah, who began serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Alterraun Verner played outside corner in the nickel defense, with rookie Vernon Hargreaves sliding inside. … Seattle played without S Earl Thomas for the first time in his NFL career due to a hamstring injury. CB DeShawn Shead was also inactive with a hamstring injury and C Justin Britt didn’t play due to an ankle injury. … Wilson was held to just 20 passing yards in the first half on 3-for-8 passing