Winston rallies Buccaneers over struggling Cowboys
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) When Lovie Smith was asked a third time about the Jameis Winston fumble that wasn't, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' coach declared it time to move on.
The Bucs beat the Dallas Cowboys 10-6 on Sunday, benefiting from a defensive holding penalty that nullified a goal-line fumble that could have cost them the victory.
Winston scored on a 1-yard keeper on the next play, giving the Bucs (4-5) their third win in five games and extending the Cowboys' longest losing streak in 26 years to seven games.
''I'm answering a lot of questions on that fumble. What fumble? … There was a penalty called on that play, so why are we talking about that?'' Smith said.
''You know what we should talk about? How about that last run of Jameis Winston to get it in the end zone to win it,'' the coach added. ''That's what we should be talking about.''
The No. 1 overall draft pick also shrugged off two interceptions – the first he'd thrown in a month – to lead the second game-winning drive of his career.
The Cowboys (2-7) have lost seven in a row without injured quarterback Tony Romo, the team's longest skid since 1989. Five of those losses have been by a touchdown or less.
''Very disappointing. We had high expectations to say the very least this year,'' Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
''Ultimately, you have to do what's necessary to win the game,'' Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. ''You have to make the stops and make the plays. We all know that.''
Romo is eligible to return from a broken left collarbone next week at Miami. The question is whether it's too late to salvage the season.
''I haven't looked at what would have to happen for us to win the division, which looks like the logical way to look at it,'' Jones said.
Tampa Bay has doubled its victory total from last season, when the Bucs went 2-14 and earned the opportunity to select Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner.
''We're not the same old Bucs. We are trending this direction,'' Smith said, motioning upward. ''I'm just anxious to see what we can do the second half of the season.''
Winston completed 22 of 39 passes for 264 yards, including a 17-yard throw to Brandon Myers to help get the Bucs into position to win the game. On third down from the 5, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound rookie scrambled through an opening in the middle and dove for the end zone, losing the ball before crossing the goal line.
But safety Jeff Heath, who had two interceptions to stop Tampa Bay threats, was flagged for holding in the end zone, moving the ball inside the 1.
''We continue to talk about him moving into more of a leadership role, but to do that you need to have a drive like that, where we're behind and we need to score,'' Smith said. ''He's going to do that for a lot of games in our future.''
Things to know about the Cowboys and Bucs:
LAST CHANCE: The Cowboys drove to the Tampa Bay 44 after falling behind in the final minute. But Matt Cassel's throw to the end zone intended for Dez Bryant was intercepted by Bradley McDougald after the Bucs safety gave the receiver a slight push in the back. Bryant argued for a pass interference penalty, but later said he should have done more to try to make the catch. ''I'm not going to sit here and make a ton of excuses. I know the standard that I have for myself,'' Bryant said.
WINSTON'S STREAK: After throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble during a loss to Carolina on Oct. 4, Winston went four games without a turnover. Heath's first interception ended a stretch of 134 consecutive pass attempts without a pick.
DALLAS SKID: The Cowboys' losing streak is their longest since they also dropped seven straight while going 1-15 under Jimmy Johnson in 1989. Matt Cassel is 0-4 and Brandon Weeden 0-3 filling for Romo.
BIG DAY: Tampa Bay's Mike Evans had eight receptions for 126 yards. Meanwhile, the Bucs' defense had three sacks, held the Cowboys to 42 yards rushing, and limited Bryant to five receptions for 45 yards.
INJURIES: The Cowboys played without LB Sean Lee (concussion) and lost CB Morris Claiborne with a hamstring injury in the first half. Bucs DE George Johnson injured a calf muscle in the first half and did not return.
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- Bradley McDougald
- Brandon Myers
- Dallas Cowboys
- George Johnson
- Jameis Winston
- Mike Evans
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers