Buccaneers ride strong defense to 14-5 upset victory over Seattle

William Gholston (92) stops Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls (34) on a run during the second quarter.
William Gholston (92) stops Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls (34) on a run during the second quarter.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Jameis Winston threw a pair of touchdown passes to Mike Evans and Tampa Bay’s rejuvenated defense shut down Russell Wilson and Seattle’s sputtering offense to beat the first-place Seahawks 14-5 on Sunday.

Evans scored on receptions of 3 and 23 yards in the opening quarter, a grieving Alterraun Verner had one of two interceptions off Wilson, and the Bucs sacked the Seattle quarterback six times.

The Bucs (6-5) have won three straight to climb back into contention for a playoff berth. In addition to stopping Seattle’s three-game winning streak, they remained one game behind first-place Atlanta in the NFC South.

Playing two days after the death of his father, Verner picked off Wilson to stop a promising drive in the final minute of the opening half. The reserve cornerback was embraced on the sideline by teammates, who continued to play inspired defense in the second half.

Bradley McDougal had the other interception off Wilson, who had thrown two in 335 attempts this season entering Sunday. Lavonte David returned a fumble 53 yards, ending another promising Seattle drive in the fourth quarter.

Winston completed 21 of 28 passes for 220 yards and one interception. Evans had eight receptions for 104 yards, and Doug Martin rushed for 87 yards on 23 attempts for the Bucs.

Wilson finished 17 of 33 for 151 yards. The Seahawks were held to 1-yard net passing in the first half, when Wilson was sacked four times for 19 yards in losses.

The Seahawks played without Earl Thomas, stopping a streak of 106 consecutive regular-season starts for the star safety, who had never missed an NFL game. Starting cornerback DeShawn Snead, who also suffered a hamstring injury during last week’s victory over Philadelphia, also sat out, leaving the Seattle secondary vulnerable.

Winston took advantage, leading TD drives of 78 and 62 yards on Tampa Bay’s first two possessions. Evans’ first TD catch finished a 7-minute, 26-second march. The second – over cornerback Richard Sherman – dumped the Seahawks into an early 14-0 hole.

Evans joined Joey Galloway and Vincent Jackson as the only receivers in Bucs history with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He has 73 receptions for 1,020 yards through 11 games. On his second TD pass, Sherman appeared to complain to officials that the 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver was holding him by the jersey while creating separation to make the catch in the end zone.

In addition to playing without Thomas and Shead, the Seahawks lost TE Luke Wilson (knee) in the opening quarter. DE Michael Bennett (knee) missed his fifth consecutive game.

Tampa Bay welcomed guard Kevin Pamphile back to lineup after missing two games with a concussion.

Next week Seattle hosts the Panthers while Tampa Bay travels to San Diego to play the Chargers.

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